Welcome to Chatham
With a robust fishing and agricultural history, the town of Chatham has morphed into one of the most pleasing destinations on the Cape for visitors and homeowners. Chatham was settled by the English in 1664 and incorporated in 1712. In addition to fishing and farming, Chatham locals also labored at building ships and making salt, before the town eventually became a sought-after vacation destination. Popular for retirement and second-home ownership, Chatham retains a charming vibrancy, especially at its historic fish pier, where an active, small boat fleet brings in their catch under the curious observation of dozens of visitors each day. The Main Street shopping district is busy throughout the year, with many fine restaurants, clothing boutiques, bookstores, candy, and ice cream shops, a renovated cinema, and several historic churches. The downtown area has many treelined residential streets that lead off of Main Street, making those neighborhoods conveniently walkable.
There are several pleasant beaches in town: Hardings, Ridgevale, and Cockle Cove are on Nantucket Sound, you can swim in the calm waters of Oyster Pond and Pleasant Bay, and the town’s largest beach, Lighthouse, has opportunities for long walks and amazing views of boats entering the harbor. With many interesting residential districts, Chatham can offer choices that range from smaller inland cottages to epically luxurious shorefront estates.
Main Street Chatham is home to more than a dozen fine art and photography galleries and studios. The Creative Arts Center is a nonprofit organization with year-round classes and workshops in painting, drawing, pottery, and jewelry. The Chatham Drama Guild on Crowell Road presents live performances of dramas, musicals, concerts, and children’s events. The restored and rehabilitated 1916 Chatham Orpheum Theater reopened in 2013 as a modern cinema featuring first-run major motion pictures, art house films, documentaries, and work from local filmmakers. Every summer, the Chatham Merchants Association presents “Chatham Art in the Park” at Kate Gould Park, a display and auction of uniquely shaped wooden pieces painted by local artists.
Chatham has numerous museums and historic sites, including the Atwood Museum, a historic home with art, artifacts, and decorative arts portraying life on Cape Cod since the seventeenth century. Residents will also find the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center, the Chatham Railroad museum, and the Josiah Mayo House on Main Street, a beautifully preserved 1820 home, which serves as the headquarters for the Chatham Conservation Foundation. Also on Main Street is the Renaissance/Romanesque Revivalstyle Eldredge Public Library, a 1894 gift to the people of Chatham from one of its natives, Marcellus Eldredge. The Godfrey Windmill is a historic 1797 windmill located in Chase Park and the iconic Chatham Lighthouse is an active Coast Guard Station, whose beacon continues to guide mariners over the Chatham Bar.
Chatham and its neighboring town of Harwich are both part of the Monomoy Regional School District. Chatham has its own elementary school, Chatham Elementary School on Depot Road for students in pre-kindergarten through fourth grade. Chatham children grades five through twelve attend Monomoy Regional Middle School, located in Chatham, and Monomoy Regional high School in Harwich. Also in Harwich is Cape Cod Regional Technical School, another public school option for Chatham teens.
Chatham is located at the elbow of Cape Cod on the southeastern corner of the peninsula. With the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Nantucket Sound to the south, and Pleasant Bay on its northeastern edge, Chatham has only one land neighbor, the town of Harwich, which wraps around its western and northern borders. The eight-mile-long spit of land that is Monomoy Island extends southwest from Chatham and is home to the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. Shifting sandbars and eroding barrier beaches are a regular feature of the entrances to Chatham Harbor, and the town is also home to rivers, creeks, and salt and freshwater ponds.
Points of Interest
Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Shark Center, Atwood House Museum, Chatham Fish Pier, Chatham Lighthouse Beach, Chatham Railroad Museum, Cockle Cove Beach, Eldredge Public Library, Godfrey Windmill, Harding’s Beach, Kate Gould Park, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, Oyster Pond, Ridgevale Beach, Veterans Field.