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Welcome to Main Street Chatham

Main Street Chatham

Photo by Charles Sternaimolo

For two days last summer, photographer Charles Sternaimolo and I explored Chatham’s lovely Main Street. We traveled from end to end, from the Chatham Lighthouse in the east to Main Street’s western culmination at the Harwich line. Naturally, we spent the majority of our time downtown, interviewing and photographing business owners, tourists, and locals—and lots of dog walkers. It was early September, it was warm, and the colorful skies were worthy of a postcard.

During our time in town, we stopped in a number of Main Street’s fun shops and art galleries, and enjoyed great meals at local restaurants. We marveled at Fleurcita’s Clock, an attractive German time-teller outside In the Pink. We met an English couple that was excited to take a whale-watching trip and chatted with Lina Watson of Bulgaria who was selling Chatham gear at Soft as a Grape. We met travelers from Switzerland dining at Wild Goose Tavern, and then a woman from Oklahoma who was checking out the varieties at Chatham Cheese Company. What brings all these far-flung folks to Chatham? I’ll let summer resident Joan Casabian provide the answer. “It’s our passion—this place,” she says. “We come as often as we can. We cross the bridge, and it’s like . . . ahhhh!”

Head west for historic homes, Baker’s Hardware

Laura and Guy Mangs live on the west end of Main Street—almost in Harwich. They own a “half cape”—the style of home features a door with two windows on one side—and Laura says the neighborhood is the only place on Cape Cod where there are three “half-capes” in a row. The house was built in 1712 and the couple has been told the kitchen came from Nantucket, where it had served as a fishing shack. What do the Mangs think of Main Street? “It’s absolutely beautiful,” Laura says.

“It’s busy, but in a good way.”

We also met Bob Baker whose father, Cyrus, founded Baker’s Hardware in 1950. A stylish 1929 Model A Ford pickup greets visitors in the front yard. “It’s a nice walking town,” Baker says of Chatham. And what about this area, in particular? “You’re in South Chatham now,” he says. “It’s a big difference.”

The Candy Manor—and two Cooks in a coffee kitchen

At Chatham Candy Manor, we spoke with Kimberly Marsh who was busy dipping Oreos into milk chocolate. “These are one of the most popular things in the summer,” she says. “We can’t keep up with them.” Later, we met Susan Carroll who has been with the company for nearly 40 years. “I’m very happy with my job,” Carroll says, whilst making vanilla butter creams. “It’s a really fun place to work.” Her next assignment: non-pareils!

At Monomoy Coffee Company we met Pierrette and Rachel Cook, the mother-daughter ownership team. The café serves breakfast sandwiches, muffins, and more, and offers outdoor patio seating. “It’s fabulous,” Pierrette says of the location. “You get to see everybody.” Sip on this: the staff prepares “ice-coffee ice cubes” to serve in customer’s ice coffees. As the cubes melt, the drink dilutes not—and the extra caffeine comes free of charge.

Pleasant sights, signs, and memories

The view from the bluff overlooking Chatham Lighthouse Beach is breathtaking. During our visit, the sky was light blue, the clouds were moving above, and seals could be spied at a distance. Residences nearby—including many that had been captain’s homes in the 1800s—were attractive, too, with white picket fences, flowers, and porches. Many of the homes also sported clapboard signs with mood-setting phrases like “Ocean View” and

“Dawning Day,” and don’t forget “Time Out.”

By Chatham Light we met Robert and Julie Westergard of Pleasant Valley, New York. They were walking their rescue dog, Molly. It was very windy that morning—and they nearly needed to make another rescue. The couple had stayed in Eastham and their Cape Cod vacation was coming to a close.

“We’re going home,” Rob says, “but we don’t want to leave.”

Beautiful work and in abundance

The number of art galleries on Main Street—especially downtown—is stunning, and we browsed in a few of the galleries. Inside Chatham Fine Art we met a family from Long Island that was reviewing the collection, including a colorful rendition of the Chatham Bandstand.

Up the road apiece, we stopped in Forest Beach Designer-Goldsmiths, where company co-owner Steve Wardle says customers don’t need to worry about finding “SOS” at his shop—same old stuff, that is. A native of New York, Wardle owns the company with his wife Barb Knowlton, who hails from New Jersey. The couple showed us their inspired jewelry creations, and to further spark our interest, Steve fired up his welding torch so we could watch him work on a gold ring mount.

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