Village LIFE: The Magic of Mashpee

Cape Cod Life  /  November/December 2018 / , , , ,

Writer: Blair Miller / Photographer: Josh Shortsleeve 

Village LIFE: The Magic of Mashpee


Cape Cod Life  /  November/December 2018 / , , , ,

Writer: Blair Miller / Photographer: Josh Shortsleeve 

Mashpee Commons

The clock tower on Steeple Street in Mashpee Commons at dusk

A hidden treasure no more

The true essence of any classic village is found at its center, or trademark downtown. In the dynamic hub of Mashpee, community spirit is on full display, since it is the people of Mashpee who have transformed this town into a vibrant hotbed of activity. Once a pass through for those looking to recharge away from city life, Mashpee now stands on its own, despite being the second-to-last area on the Cape to go through the progression of becoming its own town.

Like its neighbors, the layers of history stretch far and wide from one edge of Mashpee to the next. Members of the Wampanoag Tribe were the first to settle in this area near Sandwich, but eventually they lost control of the land. Despite that, even today, many generations later still call Mashpee home. Lifetime residents haven’t forgotten that deep history, and neither do visitors who drop by the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum. The Museum is proud to be the “geographic core of the Mashpee Wampanoag people,” since most of them live within just 20 miles of it. Mashpee’s Wampanoag roots are ever-present in the Old Indian Meeting House, which remains the oldest church on Cape Cod and the oldest Native American church in the United States. Built in 1684, it’s now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the town attracts more than just the mainstays who’ve developed this town into what it is. Tourists, shoppers and food enthusiasts who discovered their way here via Massachusetts Route 28 are often pleasantly surprised by what they find. In a place where there’s no central downtown, the unofficial occupier of that role has been the gem that is Mashpee Commons. But it hasn’t always been that way. Fifty years ago, the Commons was living out its existence as an inconspicuous shopping location. That changed in 1986, when a new buyer came in and redeveloped everything about Mashpee Commons, setting the foundation for what it is today. Currently boasting 60 businesses, the Commons’ open-air shopping yields all types of customers, from traditional shoppers to those hoping to get lost in the quaint boutiques that have come to define this unique destination.

Central Square in Mashpee Commons

Central Square in Mashpee Commons

“Our vision is just now coming to fruition,” says Mary Derr, marketing director for Mashpee Commons. “When Buff Chace (founder and managing partner of Cornish Associates) took the reigns in the 1980s, it looked like any other strip mall around the country. The goal was to make it more walkable, less car dependent, and have more hustle and bustle 24 hours a day.” In the last 13 years, the Commons has turned that goal into a reality by concentrating more on how people live and incorporating that into a true mixed-use community. Mashpee Commons went beyond just appealing to those looking to spend money to obtain a piece of the Cape Cod experience. They noticed a need for alternative residential options. Perched high above the storefronts, 67 units are sprinkled throughout the property, and there’s rarely a single unit sitting open. “We have a running waiting list for units,” says Derr, “and there’s a high demand for these apartments,” so much so that there are plans to add more units in early 2019.

Perhaps the aroma of the neighboring restaurants is what lures some people here to stay longer. Siena, a popular Italian restaurant in the Commons, has become a go-to for moviegoers looking for a bite before catching a show next door at the Regal Cinema. Generous portions of pizza and other Italian favorites make this an ideal spot for those that don’t want to break the bank for lunch or dinner. Another affordable, and family-friendly, option that’s serving up classic fare is Bobby Byrne’s, a Mashpee Commons staple, as it first opened here in 1973.

At the corner of Franklin and Market, you see why business has soared for the local boutiques. At Verde Floral Design, it’s about much more than just organizing a beautiful arrangement. The shop’s reputation has evolved so much so that it now includes summer classes for people to learn how to arrange flowers at home, just like the professionals. It’s wildly popular and has expanded to include more workshops beyond just the summer months.

The Nantucket-esque storefronts throughout the Commons are some of the most picturesque you’ll ever see. Cape Kids is jam-packed with distinct clothes and gifts for kids, much of it made locally by hand. Among the shops and restaurants, visitors will find the town’s post office and library—another sign that the Commons is truly the heart of the village.

Elfstone Silver & Gold

Elfstone Silver & Gold offers not only beautiful jewelry, but, in the spirit of Mashpee, amazing service as well.

As you work up an appetite strolling up and down the tucked away side streets, you’ll want to make a pit stop at Washashore Bakery. The cinnamon buns don’t disappoint, and from the sticky buns to the lemon squares to the whoopie pies, it’s hard not to be impressed by this local bakery full of sensational sweets.

While Mashpee Commons has become the heart and soul of this community, the effort to be part of the town is only growing through all aspects of business spread out across Mashpee. Around the corner in Deer Crossing, Soprano’s has become a favorite for locals with its combination of indoor and outdoor seating. The Italian fare is authentic and matches the intimacy of the cozy bar. New businesses, like Au Coeur Mind-Body Center, have brought their niche to Deer Crossing. Located in the upper level, the Au Coeur Center, run by Douglas and Sheryll Reichwein, offers a wide variety of classes and programs to help people better manage their stress.

The common thread in Mashpee is the camaraderie among the people who live here, crossing cultures and decades of historic significance. “The people here define Mashpee,” says Mary Lou Palumbo, executive director at the Mashpee Chamber of Commerce. “It’s amazing how everyone comes together when something happens. People love this town, and they go all out to help each other.” The growth of Mashpee is on the radars of many local leaders, whose visions for the town’s future are big. In addition to more residential options to better accommodate a population that has doubled in size since 1990, the Mashpee Chamber of Commerce hopes to eventually have a hotel and conference center to host the area’s many visitors.    

The Mashpee of today is a far cry from the days when people simply used the village as a means to get to another destination down the road. It’s now the destination for so many. What was a hidden treasure is now a diamond shining bright.

Click to the next page to discover some great spots and services around Mashpee!

Naukabout Brewery

Naukabout Brewery

Around Mashpee:

Cape Kids

Kids, Clothes, Gifts & More! Owner Amanda Frisone wants you to fully enjoy your shopping experience. She bought Cape Kids last winter, and her love for her daughters and the Cape inspires the lines she chooses. You will find the softest organic fabrics, locally made surprises and sought-after designers! Visit Amanda and her team at 28 North Street, Mashpee Commons (across from Starbuck’s). 508-477-0169. CapeKids.com

Elfstone Silver and Gold

Since 1984, this family-owned jewelry store has been a must-visit spot in the Mashpee Commons. Elfstone’s jewelers can help return special pieces to their original beauty or assist in the creation of a new heirloom. Featuring a curated collection of unique sterling and gold pieces, there is always something special to find!

19 Central Square, Mashpee Commons. 508-477-1888

innerglow yoga

innerglow yoga offers a space to practice yoga, shop and learn. Whether you are new to yoga or an advanced practitioner, their mission is to help you ignite your own innerglow. Cape Cod Yoga School is the continuing education and training division of innerglow yoga. Dive deeper into your practice, or learn how to teach others.

Main location: 30 Steeple Street, Mashpee Commons. 508-477-9642. innerglowyogacapecod.com. ccyogaschool.com

Susan Chadwick, GRI,
Kinlin Grover Real Estate

Susan offers home sellers and buyers expertise, excellent service and professionalism throughout the entire sales and search process. With nearly 20 years experience, Susan prides herself on the care she takes to assist her clients in finding their dream Cape Cod home, in downsizing, or simply moving. Call Susan for your real estate needs:

508-274-7771. Email: schadwick@kinlingrover.com

The Chocolate Rose

The Chocolate Rose offers an intimate client experience paired with fresh, premium cakes and confections for all of your special occasions. Visit their retail shoppe for a fine selection of breakfast pastries, cakes, individual desserts, and coffee drinks.

Follow The Chocolate Rose on Facebook or check their website to keep up with current events and their winter baking class schedule. Gift certificates available.

628 Main Street (Route 130), Suite A, Mashpee. 774-238-7020. ChocolateRoseCakes.com

Verde Floral Design

Studies show that upon receiving flowers one’s mood is elevated for up to three days. Visit Verde’s two showrooms and be prepared to feel better instantly. Custom floral arrangements, plants, permanent botanicals, terrariums, unique vessels and services will be sure to uplift… one, two, three… well, at least your weekend!

19 and 23 Fountain Street, Mashpee Commons. 508-681-8169. verdeflorals.com

Washashore Bakery

The theme at Owner Sandy McPherson’s Washashore Bakery is “Baked from Scratch,” and you’ll be enthralled by the variety of fresh, delicious delights available, including the popular cinnamon buns, cheesecakes, fruit pies, pecan pies, coffee cakes, apple streusel, cornbread, zucchini, banana and pumpkin tea breads, and so much more. Ask about custom orders for special occasions.

14 Central Square, Mashpee Commons. 508-419-6835. washashorebakery.com

Wish Gift Co.

Have you wished for a gift shop that makes it easy to find something for life’s special occasions? Your wish is a dream come true in this specialty gift shop, offering a variety of handcrafted goods and custom gift boxes. At Wish Gift Co., their unique selection includes home accents, bath & body products, gourmet treats, and more.

Two locations: Mashpee Commons and Merchant’s Square, Sandwich. 888-978-9474

Devon West Fitness

Find your prescription for a healthy life! You’ll want to listen to what Devon has to say. Devon works with all age groups, specializing in what works best for each individual. He has worked on various up-and-coming techniques that can greatly improve one’s overall well-being. Devon offers flexible, personal or buddy training appointments. Call for your first complimentary orientation:

508-364-8503. DevonWestFit.com


With a focus on quality and versatility, One21 brings to the Cape a curated selection of Italian-made apparel and accessories. From fashion-forward clothing to handmade leather bags and jackets, all items are hand-selected and imported from Bologna to provide customers “Made in Italy” excellence you don’t need a passport for! Follow One21 on Instagram & Facebook!

7 Central Square, Mashpee Commons. 508-477-7777. One21mashpee.com

Naukabout Beer Company

What is Naukabout? Mashpee’s newest craft brewery. For the cofounders of the Naukabout Beer Company, the name means doing things you love to do after doing the things you have to do. Where would you be if you want to Naukabout?

13 Lake Avenue (off Route 130), Mashpee. naukabout.com


Siena, at 17 Steeple Street in Mashpee Commons, is a place where everyone can live well, eat well, and be social. The menu includes both familiar favorites and exceptional specials. The handpicked wine list is sure to impress, while Siena’s grill brings the taste of a Cape summer to your table year-round.


Blair Miller

An Emmy Award-winning journalist, Blair Miller can be seen at the anchor desk weekdays at 4 p.m. on Boston 25 News. He lives in Scituate with his husband and their two children.