Chatham Honors The Past With History Weekend

By: Tim Wood

Topics: Historic , Chatham , Eldredge Public Library

The Chatham Historical Society is seeking community preservation funds to restore the foundation of the antique Atwood House is FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM – The town's museums will throw open their doors Friday, Saturday and Sunday to celebrate Chatham History Weekend.

Sponsored by Historic Chatham, a cooperative group of the town's museums and history organizations, Chatham History Weekend aims to acquaint locals and visitors alike with the rich historical assets Chatham has to offer.

The event includes a mix of new exhibits, demonstrations, book signings and talks that range from an intimate look at the town's sea captains to Colonial corn grinding. All museums are open for free and both youngsters and adults are encouraged to attend.

Historic Chatham grew out of the town's 300th anniversary celebration in 2012. That event renewed appreciation of the town's history and highlights its unique museums, natural history and architecture. Its website,, is a gateway connecting all aspects of Chatham history.

Events begin Thursday with a talk on the “Oral Lineage of Old Chatham” by Todd Kelley, held at the Eldredge Public Library at 7 p.m. On Friday, Don Edge will be at the library from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to help local homeowners research the history of their house and apply for an historic house sign.

The Chatham Historical Society's Atwood House Museum opens for the season on Friday, debuting a new exhibit, “Masters of the Sea,” which focuses on the stories of nine Chatham sea captains (see separate story). Also featured this summer is an expanded exhibit on the Pendleton rescue, including a life-size reproduction of a section of the famous rescue boat CG36500. On Friday and Saturday between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Stage Harbor Road museum will also host a series of “spotlight talks” on various historical topics, including question and answer sessions.

Friday also marks the season opening of the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center's Marconi-RCA Wireless Museum, located at 847 Orleans Rd. (Route 28). This year the museum commemorates the 95th anniversary of Chatham radio, for many years the country's busiest ship-to-shore station located at the site and operated by Radio Corporation of America under the call letters WCC. This season the museum offers new and refreshed exhibits in three galleries on the former station campus overlooking Ryder's Cove. They include interactive exhibits about Morse code, the World War II Enigma machine and the station's ship-to-shore activities in the former operations center. In what once served as the station's “hotel” are exhibits linking early communications and radio to today's wireless communication, as well as the museum's education center. The third gallery is the antenna field trail located behind the operations center.

On Saturday, the museum will host Chronicle reporter and author Alan Pollock signing copies of his book “Chatham.” Published by Arcadia Publishing's Images of Modern America, the book documents the changes in the town over the past 50 years through color photographs, many never seen before. Pollock will be on the porch of the museum's education center from noon to 2 p.m.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, the Caleb Nickerson House will host artisans from its Forgotten Arts programs giving demonstrations of various Colonial crafts. There will also be an ongoing archaeological dig on the groups in a search for the precise location of William and Ann Busby Nickerson's original homestead (see separate story).

The Benjamin Godfrey grist mill in Chase Park will be grinding corn on Saturday, weather permitting. And at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Chronicle Editor Tim Wood will lead a historic walk of downtown Chatham.

Chatham Lighthouse will be open for tours on Friday from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. The Chatham Railroad Museum will be open Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Mayo House will open for tours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, and the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge visitors center will open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday, the Atwood Lecture Series will feature a presentation on “The Attack on Orleans” at the Atwood House at 2 p.m.

For more details about these and other History Weekend events, visit