Chatham Honors The Past With History Weekend, June 16-18

By: Tim Wood

Topics: History , Local History , Historic preservation

Chatham's historic railroad depot, now the Chatham Railroad Museum, will be open Friday and Saturday, June 16 and 17, for Chatham History Weekend. The town's museums and historic sites will be open for free during the weekend to highlight the town's history. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM – The town has long honored its history, and for the past several years has highlighted its past and the institutions that celebrate it with the annual History Weekend.

Sponsored by Historic Chatham, a coalition of the town's museums and history organizations, this year's History Weekend takes place June 16, 17 and 18. Local museums will be open with free admission, highlighting new exhibits for the season, and there will be lectures, concerts, a movie, walking tour and an archaeology dig to celebrate the event.

WHAT: Chatham History Weekend

WHEN: June 16-18

WHERE: Local museums and historic sites


According to Historic Chatham, the purpose of History Weekend is to raise awareness among both residents and visitors of Chatham's historic richness. Its website,, contains links to all of the participating organizations as well as detailed information about History Weekend programs, events and exhibits.

Events actually begin prior to the weekend on Tuesday, June 13, with a presentation by Chronicle columnist John Whelan of “Chatham at the Time of the Great War.” The talk takes place at the Eldredge Public Library at 7 p.m.

On Thursday, June 15, the Chatham Orpheum Theater will present a “get in the mood” reception at 6 p.m. followed by a screening of the historic epic “Lawrence of Arabia” at 7 p.m.

The weekend's events begin on Friday, June 16. At 10:30 a.m., the Marconi-RCA Wireless Museum will hold the grand opening of its 2017 exhibit “Breaking Barriers: The Women Air Force Service Pilots of WWII.” The exhibit highlights the more than 1,000 young women who served as military pilots during the war. Though they were classified as civilians, the WASPs carried out many dangerous missions and flew some of the country's most advanced military aircraft. The museum will be open through 4:30 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday with free admission.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., local homeowners can find out about the history of their property and apply for an historic house sign at the Eldredge Public Library.

Also on Friday, the Atwood House and Museum will be open with two new exhibits: “Chatham in the Military,” looking at the town's relationship to the armed services from the Revolutionary War through World War I, and “Windows Into Time – Clothing and Artifacts,” which explores the development of clothing and other handmade goods in rural Northeast American from the 1600s to the early 1900s. The museum is open with free admission from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The Chatham Railroad Museum will also be open on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is located on Depot Road and features exhibits related to the golden days of railroads in Chatham and beyond.

On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Caleb Nickerson Homestead will host archaeologist Craig Chartier who will be conducting test pits at the 1664 Nickerson homestead. At 2 p.m. Chartier will give a talk on his findings. Costumed tours and woodworking artisans will be at the Nickerson compound, located on Route 28 in Chathamport, throughout the day.

Enjoy a historic walk of downtown Chatham on Saturday with tour guide Tim Wood, editor of The Cape Cod Chronicle. This special free “Chatham Walks” tour begins at 3 p.m. at the community center.

On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Benjamin Godfrey/Chatham Windmill will be grinding corn, weather permitting, with “Colonel Godfrey” speaking at 11 and 1. Edmund Robinson will provide Colonial fiddle music at noon.

The Chatham Lighthouse will be open for tours on Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

On Sunday at 2 p.m., the Atwood House and Museum will host “The Winged Cell Phone of Yesteryear,” presented by Phil Kyle, about the use of carrier pigeons in communications.

At 4 p.m. on Sunday, the Atwood House and the First United Methodist Church will present “Voyage to the Colonies,” a benefit concert by the American Baroque Orchestra featuring the music of early America.

Take a guided boat and island tour of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Reservations are required. See for more details or contact Refuge Manager Matt Hillman at

Historic Chatham members include the Atwood House and Museum, Marconi-RCA Wireless Museum, Chatham Railroad Museum, Chatham Lighthouse, Chatham Windmill, Eldredge Public Library, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Caleb Nickerson House and the Mayo House.