Fun facts about the town of Chatham…

  • According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of Chatham is 6,125.
  • In 1658, William Nickerson purchased the land we call Chatham today from Native Americans in the area for a shallop, or boat. In 1664, Nickerson and his wife, Anne Busby, were the first European settlers in the area.
  • Originally known by different names including Manamoyik, Monomoit, Port Fortune, and Sutcliffe’s Inlets, Chatham was incorporated as a town in 1712; the town was named after a town in the southeast of England.
  • At Town Meeting in 1962, Chatham residents approved the expenditure of $1.3 million to construct a new middle school/high school on Crowell Road. In 2010, Chatham and Harwich residents together approved the creation of the Monomoy Regional School District, the centerpiece of which is a new $64.7 million high school to be built in Harwich.
  • Construction of the high school is slated for completion this year, and the first class of Monomoy High Sharks is scheduled to graduate in 2015.
  • Chatham’s town seal reads: “Incorporated June 11, 1712.” According to a study by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2011, the seal population in and around Chatham and the Cape is 15,700.
  • Established in 1944, Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge features 7,604 acres between its two islands—North Monomoy and South Monomoy. As of 2013, it is the only area designated as ‘wilderness’ in Southern New England.
  • Foxes are abundant in this region of the Cape. Visitors might spot one around town, perhaps at Fox Pond, or on Fox Hill Road.
  • Chatham Light was built in 1808 and featured two ‘twin’ lights, so sailors could easily distinguish it from Highland Light in Truro, which had one. In 1923, the north of the two towers—Twin Light’—was moved to Eastham.
  • In 1871, Congress established the U.S. Life Saving Service, and stations were built in Chatham and Monomoy the following year.
  • In November 1887, the Old Colony Railroad line extended to Chatham. Prior to that, visitors to town took the train to Harwich, disembarked there, and continued on by stagecoach.
  • In 1902, the barge, Wadena, beached itself and wrecked off Chatham; the owner, William Mack, and all crew members perished. Further, seven of the eight U.S. Lifesavers from Monomoy Station who attempted to rescue those on board drowned. Seth Ellis was the lone survivor. In 1903, Mack’s family built the Mack Monument next to Chatham Light to memorialize those lost in the tragedy.
  • In January of 1918, the Chatham Naval Air Station was commissioned. In July of that year, a German U-boat attacked a tugboat and four empty barges off the Orleans coast and planes were sent from the air station to fight off the sub. The planes’ bombs were unsuccessful and the sub departed the area.
  • In 1919, Chatham Town Hall burned down; The Orpheum Theatre was subsequently used to host town meetings and other community events.
  • During World War II, dirigibles and seaplanes stationed at Monomoy Island kept watch over the Cape’s waters for Nazi submarines.
  • In 1931, Chatham resident Alice Stallknecht painted a version of Christ Preaching to the Multitudes, featuring her fellow parishioners at the Congregational Church as models. The murals were hung originally at the church; today, the artwork can be viewed at Atwood House Museum on Stage Harbor Road.
  • Webster Whitney “Whit” Tileston led the Chatham band during summer concerts at Kate Gould Park for nearly 50 years, from 1946-1994.
  • To celebrate Chatham’s bicentennial in 1912, a town luncheon was held at The Rockwell Grounds above Mill Pond; the day’s menu featured cold roast turkey, cold boiled ham, and cold boiled tongue—as well as olives, frozen pudding, and coffee.
  • To commemorate Chatham’s 250th birthday in 1962, the mayor of Chatham, England, Mrs. Bertha Grieveson, came to town for a celebration hosted by the Chatham Women’s Club.
  • Chatham occupies about 24.4 square miles, making it comparable in size to Dearborn, Michigan.
  • In 2012, Chatham turned 300; Festivities that year included a tea at the Atwood House Museum, a dinner at the VFW featuring Native American foods, and the Tercentennial Ball at Chatham Bars Inn.
  • Coinciding with the tercentennial, The Chatham Historical Society published Three Centuries in A Cape Cod Village; The Story of Chatham.
  • When it opened in 1914, the Chatham Bars Inn offered both fresh and saltwater showers, in addition to other amenities. The inn celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2014.
  • In 1935, the fee for a night’s stay at The Chatham Bars and Cottages was $7-12.
  • The Orpheum Theater opened on Main Street in 1916 with seating for 400. The theater underwent many changes over the years, including adapting for sound films in the late 1920s. In 1985, the building that housed the theater was sold, and in 1990, CVS leased the space, operating a pharmacy there until 2011.
  • Following a concerted effort from volunteers and supporters—and more than $1 million in fundraising—a new Orpheum Theater opened to the public on July 26, 2013.
  • The Chatham Drama Guild was founded in 1932. This year, the community theater, located on Crowell Road, will perform The Sound of Music and other shows.
  • Still Alice, a 2007 New York Times bestseller by Cape resident Lisa Genova, is set in Chatham.
  • In 2013, the Chatham Anglers finished with the Cape league’s best regular season record (26-17-1), John Schiffer was named manager of the year, and Lukas Schiraldi of Texas was named the league’s best pitcher. Unfortunately, the A’s lost in the championship to the Orleans Firebirds.
  • Starring Freddie Prince, Jr. and Jessica Biel, the 2001 film, Summer Catch, is set in Chatham; the movie centers on a baseball player on the Chatham A’s.
  • Thurmon Munson played for the Chatham A’s in 1967 and won the league’s MVP trophy. He later won Rookie of the Year, MVP, and two World Series with the New York Yankees. In 1979, Munson, 32, died tragically in an airplane crash in Ohio.
  • Great spots to chat in Chatham include the Chatham Coffee Company, Monomoy Coffee Company, The Corner Store, Where the Sidewalk Ends bookstore, the Wild Goose, Chatham Village Cafe, and The Squire.
  • Chatham’s art galleries include the Bartholomew Gallery, Gallery Antonia, the Hearle Gallery, J. Todd Galleries, Nickerson Art Gallery, Odell’s Studio & Gallery, and the Struna Galleries. Photography galleries include Focus Gallery and Yankee Ingenuity.
  • The Cape Cod Daily Deal was founded by Stephen Williams (of Chatham) and Brett Tendler in 2011. The company’s first ‘deal’ featured $20 of food and drinks for $10 at The Red Nun in Chatham. The most popular deal in the company’s history featured Scargo Café in Dennis, when 588 customers bought $20 worth of food for just $6.
  • The Chatham Fiddle Company rents and sells various stringed instruments including banjos, guitars, and fiddles; prior to opening in 2011, shop owner Rose Clancy completed a three-year violin-making course at the North Bennett Street School in Boston.

Facebook Comments

Historic Photos

We've collected historic photos from around Cape Cod & the Islands

Share your own photos!

The board walk at Chatham Bars Inn