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Chatham, Cape Cod Massachusetts

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Chatham Information:
Chatham Information : Geography : History : Weather : Information Booths : Chatham Airport : Bus Service : Beaches : Landings : Parking : Restrooms : Town Government : Schools : Library : Seaside Links Golf Course : Chamber of Commerce : Churches : Organizations : Telephone Numbers

Welcome to Chatham . . . The Chatham Chamber of Commerce is pleased to provide you with this informational resource of Chatham. If you do not find all the answers to your questions on this site, the dedicated staff in our Information Booth on Main Street and our Visitor Information Center, the David T. Bassett House in South Chatham, positioned at the intersection of Routes 28 and 137 is ready to assist you from May through October.

When our information centers are closed, or in order to get our free Information Packet, please call us at 1-508-945-5199 or 1-800-715-5567. Of course, you may always contact us by email: [email protected].
Thank you for your interest in our community.

Scott D. Hamilton, President
Chatham Chamber of Commerce

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Chatham, Massachusetts is located at the southeast tip of Cape Cod. If the Cape is viewed as a bent arm, Chatham is at the elbow. To the east is the Atlantic Ocean, to the South is Nantucket Sound, and to the north is Pleasant Bay. The only adjacent town (located at both the north and west town line boundaries) is Harwich.

Major geographical features of the Town are hilly, wooded uplands, extensive barrier beaches and spits, harbors, numerous small estuaries, and salt and freshwater ponds.

Mainland features are the result of glacial action during the last Ice Age and consist of ridges, knobs (hills), outwash plains, and kettles (depressions and ponds). Several ponds formed by melting glacial ice have become salt ponds because of rising sea levels. The Town’s coastal dunes and beaches have been formed through thousands of years of erosion of scarps (cliffs) and movement of the material from the north and west.

Strong Island in Pleasant Bay marks the Town’s northern boundary. Morris and Stage Islands mark the extent of developed area on the south. The Red River is the boundary on the west and the Muddy Creek (or Monomoy River) on the northwest. The highest point (131 feet) in Chatham is “Great Hill”, long a landmark for vessels offshore.

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In 1606, Samuel de Champlain, the first European known to have explored the area, encountered the Monomoyicks, a Native American tribe of about 500-600 members. The topography he mapped and described is still recognizable, as are the varieties of plants, fish, shellfish, and game birds. The Monomoyicks sustained themselves with well-established farms, hunting and fishing.

The arrival of English colonists began about 1656 when William Nickerson, an English emigrant working as a land surveyor and weaver in Yarmouth on Cape Cod made the first land purchase from Sachem Mattaquason of the Monomoyicks. Nickerson failed to get permission for the purchase (a requirement at that time) from the Plymouth General Court. As a result, the Court confiscated his land except for a 100-acre Homestead. But, after 10-12 years of litigation, he regained ownership. With additional purchases he ultimately owned all of what is now Chatham with the exception of some land east of Old Harbor Road, which had been reserved for the Monomoyicks. In 1664 Nickerson settled his family on the west side of Ryder’s Cove.

By the 1690’s, 17 families lived in Chatham, and that number slowly grew to 50 families in the early 1700’s while the native population dwindled to 50-70. Before being established as a Constablewick in 1696 known as “Monamoy”, the settlement had belonged to Yarmouth and then Eastham. Chatham was incorporated in 1712 and quickly organized school districts and church leadership.

(In the early 1700s) “…the outlook for the place was not considered bright. It was small in area and the General Court had refused to increase its territory. According to the ideas and mode of life at that time, it could never accommodate many settlers. Moreover, its location was thought to be unfavorable, in those times when England was almost constantly at war with France, as it was considered to be peculiarly exposed on two sides to attacks from French privateers who occasionally hovered around the coast and threw the people into a panic.”
-William C. Smith, A History of Chatham, Massachusetts, 1947
Chatham’s early prospects were not promising. The first 100 years of recorded history reveal a struggle to establish an economy and a stable population. Situated at the end of a primitive road from Yarmouth and surrounded by open ocean, Chatham was vulnerable. Farming yielded little beyond the needs of the residents, and fishing, the mainstay of the early economy, was often disrupted by war ships, first the French and later the British. The 1750 natural closing of the entrance to Pleasant Bay forced maritime activities farther south. The French and Indian Wars and the 1760 smallpox epidemic took both men and money. By 1765 the census listed only 678 persons in 105 families.

It wasn’t until after the Revolutionary War that Chatham stabilized and grew. Industries such as fish export, ship building and salt production brought life to the economy. Agriculture, fishing, whaling and maritime enterprises flourished. In 1830, during the height of salt works production, the population was 2130.

In 1851 a breach of North Beach occurred affecting the stability of the fishing trade, but fishing, shipbuilding and salt making still occupied most of the Town’s population. Some greater diversity of religious and cultural groups appeared in the years prior to the Civil War, and government services including post offices were upgraded. The population peaked in 1860 at 2710, but dropped to only 1300 following the Civil War.
Change to a Resort Area

In the late 1800s the growing popularity of seaside summers and the development of resorts attractive to a wealthy clientele provided a new basis for economic growth, especially after the railroad was built in 1887. The Life Saving Station, Stage Harbor Light, a local newspaper, telegraph and telephone service were added, and the first auto license was issued during this period. Coastal erosion forced the moving of the Twin Lights at James Head to the site where the Lighthouse Overlook is now located. Two new schools were needed, and the first public library was established in 1875 in South Chatham. In 1896 Marcellus Eldredge, a native son, donated Eldredge Public Library to the townspeople.

The airport was built in 1930, road service was upgraded, and automobile travel soon became common. In 1950 the summer population of 5,000 greatly outnumbered 2,457 year-round residents.

Since World War II, Chatham has experienced rapid growth and has become a popular place for retirement. Housing construction has continued steadily since the war with about 1,000 new houses built per decade. Many are second homes. Currently only about one-half of the Town’s 6300 housing units are occupied year-round; the other half is occupied seasonally. The 1990 federal census lists a population of 6,579.
Chatham Today

Despite precarious beginnings, Chatham has developed over the years into a highly desirable place to live in or visit. Today its small-town qualities are well suited for families and retired residents. A spectacular coastline and out-of-the-way location have kept generations of summer residents coming back each year. With its old Cape Cod quaintness relieved by the vast pristine beaches and surrounding ocean, Chatham has great appeal. Visitors in July and August now number 20-25,000 annually.

The Town’s development as a high quality mecca for retirees, summer residents and tourists depended on two factors which in the early days of European settlement had been liabilities: its isolation and its exposure to the ocean. Today, Chatham prospers because of these factors and struggles to maintain its character in the face of its economic success. Cool summers, beautiful warm Indian summers and relatively mild winters make Chatham a comfortable place in which to vacation or live year-round. We are proud of our community, and hope that you will enjoy your stay with us and return often.

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SUMMER: Chatham lies far out at sea on the “elbow” of the Cape, at Latitude 41.40 North and Longitude 69.58 West. We are fortunate in having navigable waters on almost three sides, and, as a result, the average summer temperature is close to 70 degrees. We do have fogs but rarely cold in summer. They are a boon to our gardens and usually yield to the sun by noon. Chatham fogs are just another “conversation piece.”

AUTUMN & INDIAN SUMMER: This is one of our finest seasons, growing more popular each year. The water is never bluer than in October, the air is bracing and dry, the scenery at its best with the sharpest colors of the year. Swimming in September and early October is not too cold for some hardy folk.
Indian Summer lingers through September, October and well into November – a succession of glorious days and cool evenings. It’s an uncrowded time for tennis and golf, bicycling and hiking, beach exploring, sailing and fishing. It’s all part of Chatham’s Indian Summer. Come savor it with us!

WINTER: Our average winter temperature is about ten degrees warmer than on the mainland. We do get an occasional fall of snow, but most New England storms pass us by or just dust the landscape with the white stuff. We who live here in the winter find our paved roads fully plowed and sanded.

SPRING: March to May is just spring and we expect the thermometer to read in the upper thirties to the low fifties most of the time. But when June comes, it “Busts Out All Over.” The waters of Pleasant Bay sparkle and soon our famous roses and early flowers are in bloom everywhere.

On November 16, 1970 the National Weather Service opened an observatory on Morris Island to provide surface and upper air data to the National Forecast Centers. While the new observatory will not be able to provide public service to the area, it will provide local data to the forecast centers, thereby improving the accuracy of forecasts for this area. Weather Surveillance Radar was installed in 1971. Latitude 41.40 North, Longitude 69.58 West.

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Information Booths
The Information Booth, 533 Main Street, next to the Town Office, is under the supervision of the Chamber of Commerce and is maintained by the Town of Chatham. During the vacation season more than 25,000 visitors take advantage of its facilities. Telephone (508) 945-5199. A Visitor Information Center is located in the Town-owned David T. Bassett House, at the intersection of Routes 28 and 137 in South Chatham.

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Chatham Airport
The Chatham Municipal Airport, located on George Ryder Road, just northwest of Chatham Center, welcomes thousands of airborne travelers to Chatham each year. The airport’s proximity to beaches, recreation areas and resort facilities makes it a New England attraction. It offers sightseeing flights over beautiful Cape Cod, rental aircraft for pilots, and professional flight instruction, as well as charter flights to the Islands, Boston and any other city in the U.S. A full overhaul and repair maintenance service and adjacent seaplane base, unicom frequency, operating beacon and runway lights for night flights, combine to make Chatham Airport a full service facility.

The airport also offers a cafe type restaurant during the summer months. For information, transportation and services, contact (508) 945-9000.

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Bus Service
Bus service directly from Boston Logan International Airport to Hyannis and Harwich is provided by Plymouth & Brockton Bus Line, phone (508) 775-5524 or (508) 746-0378. Taxi service is available from Hyannis to Chatham. In Chatham call 945-0068. The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority provides daily bus service from Hyannis to Orleans with stops in North Chatham, near the Chatham Rotary, and in South Chatham. The “H2O” schedule is available at Chatham’s Information Centers.

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Cockle Cove Beach* South Chatham
Forest Beach* South Chatham
Harding’s Beach* West Chatham
Oyster Pond Beach* Chatham
Pleasant Bay (Jackknife) North Chatham
Pleasant Street Beach South Chatham
Ridgevale Beach* West Chatham
Schoolhouse Pond* ** West Chatham
South Beach Chatham
*Restrooms available in summer ** Chatham resident permit parking only
Open Friday, June 27, through Sunday, September 7
Swimming lessons and Red Cross instruction are provided by the Park Department. Call (508) 945-5158 for fees and schedule information.

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Andrew Harding’s Lane (temporarily closed), Chatham
Barn Hill (paved ramp), West Chatham
Bridge Street (paved ramp), Chatham
Claflin Landing (temporarily closed), Chatham
Cockle Cove Road, South Chatham
Crows Pond (paved ramp), Chatham
Oyster Pond Furlong, Chatham
Ryder’s Cove (paved ramp), North Chatham
Scatteree Road, North Chatham
Stage Harbor (paved ramp), Chatham
Taylors Pond, South Chatham

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The Town of Chatham provides Free Parking for our
residents and visitors at the following locations in town:

  1. Colonial Building Parking Lot (behind the Colonial Building near the rotary) off Stage Harbor Road
  2. Town Hall (Main Street)
  3. Chatham Bars Avenue (behind the Impudent Oyster)
  4. Chatham Elementary School and Veterans Field
    (1 block west of rotary off Route 28)
  5. Behind Community Center (Depot Road)
  6. Chatham Light and Overlook (30 min. limit)
  7. Oyster Pond (Stage Harbor Road)
    Daily rate paid parking is available at Eldredge Taxi parking lot at 365 Main Street. Shuttle service to South Beach (Lighthouse) offered.

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Available All Year
Barn Hill Road – Town Landing*
Eldredge Taxi – 365 Main Street*
End of Town Office Building – 549 Main Street (accessible)
Fish Pier – Shore Road (accessible)
Old Mill Boatyard – behind Harbormaster’s Office, Stage Harbor*
Ryder’s Cove – Town Landing*
Basset House Visitor Information – Routes 137 & 28 (accessible)
Behind Kate Gould Park – Main Street (accessible)
Cockle Cove Beach* (accessible)
Harding’s Beach (accessible)
Oyster Pond Beach (accessible)
Parking Lot – 637 Main Street, behind CVS (accessible)
Rear of Colonial Building*
Ridgevale Beach* (accessible)
Scatteree* (accessible)
Schoolhouse Pond Beach* (accessible)
Sears Point*
Veterans Field* (accessible)
Volunteer Park*

  • Port-O-Lets

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Town Government
Chatham operates under the town meeting form of government. The executive officers are a board of five part-time Selectmen and a Town Manager. The citizens of Chatham enjoy the special benefits of forward-looking zoning and planning, and of both public and private conservation efforts.

Board of Selectmen:
William G. Hinchey, Town Manager
David R. Whitcomb, Chairman
Deborah W. Connors, Vice-Chairman
Sean Summers, Clerk
Douglas Ann Bohman, Selectman
Ronald Bergstrom, Selectman

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Chatham High School
425 Crowell Road
Chatham, MA 02633

Tel. (508) 945 5140

Chatham Middle School
425 Crowell Road
Chatham, MA 02633

Tel. (508) 945 5148

Chatham Elementary School
147 Depot Road
Chatham, MA 02633

Tel. (508) 945 5135

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The Eldredge Public Library, at 564 Main Street, is one of the most beautiful library buildings on Cape Cod. Within its three levels, visitors will find a generous selection of modern literature, local historical materials, a genealogy department, newspapers, magazines, videos and DVDs, music CDs, audio books and 10 public computers available with high speed Internet connections and Microsoft Office. The Library offers borrowing privileges to visitors, and invites them to participate in programs of interest for adults and children of all ages.

The Friends of the Eldredge Public Library sponsor a variety of events such as lectures, performances, fundraisers and classes all year long. There is a Children’s Room full of games, puppets, computers and toys for any imagination to go wild. There is a Children’s Drop-In Storyhour from September through June on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. for children 3 to 5 years. In the summer, there is a Family Storytime for school-aged children as well on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. that everyone can enjoy! Each hour is filled with stories, songs and theme-based activities. In the summer, all children are encouraged to participate in the statewide Summer Reading Program. This year ‘s Summer Library Adventure theme is Going Places @ your library. Stop by the library for a calendar of events or log on to our website: for the latest information. For further information, please call us at 508-945-5170.

Library Hours

Monday: 10 am – 5 pm
Tuesday: 1 pm – 9 pm
Wednesday: 10 am – 5 pm
Thursday: 1 pm – 9 pm
Friday: 10 am – 5 pm
Saturday: 10 am – 5 pm
Tuesday, Thursday & Sat. 1 – 5 pm

Tel. (508) 945 5170

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Seaside Links Golf Course
“Chatham Seaside Links” – Seaview Street, Chatham. This town-owned course, within walking distance of downtown Chatham, provides nine holes of challenges in the midst of seaside beauty. Carts available.
Tel. (508) 945 4774

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Chamber of Commerce
President, Scott D. Hamilton, Chatham Jewelers
Vice President, George J. Tamer, Social Member Treasurer
Treasurer, Audrey E. Gray, Marley’s of Chatham
Secretary, Thomas R Patton, III, Kinlin Grover GMAC Real Estate
Executive Director, Amy Gorrigan Levine

Directors 2005-2006:
Marie E. Williams, Watermark Office Services
Andrew J. Neal, AJN Property Management
Frank Facchetti, Outermost Harbor Marine
William DeFord Jr., Cranberry Inn
Danielle Jeanloz, Chatham Antiques Guest Rooms
Susan Williams, Barn Hill Pottery
Alice Duthie, Interiors By Decorating Den
Heather Brown, TD Banknorth
Edward McDonald Jr., Social Member
Ray Braz, Old Harbor Inn(Lodging Association Rep.)
David Nadeau, Kinlin Grover GMAC Real Estate (Merchants’ Association Rep.)
Past Chamber President:
Roberta K. Schultz, Social Member

Chatham Merchants Association
The Chatham Merchants Association, a branch of the Chamber of Commerce, is an active group of retailers and other business managers who direct certain special programs in Chatham. Among the key accomplishments of the CMA are the Chatham Maritime Festival, December’s Christmas by the Sea and the charitable Angel Fund.

Chatham Lodging Association
The Chatham Lodging Association, a branch of the Chamber of Commerce, is an active group of Chatham’s accommodation providers dedicated to ensure our guests a wide spectrum of quality accommodation options. The Association participates in a variety of town betterment programs and sponsors a popular Inn Tour during Christmas-By-The-Sea.

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Baptist – First Light Church of Cape Cod, Non-denominational
195 Meetinghouse Road (Route 137), South Chatham.
Rev. David L. Otis, Pastor. Sunday Worship Service 10:00 am; Classes for all ages; Childcare provided. Women’s Bible study 9:00 am Tuesday. Men’s meeting 7:00 pm Tuesday. Family dinner 6:00 pm Wednesday, 7:00 pm worship and teaching.
Phone: 508-432-8022. Contact us by Email : : :Visit our Website

Catholic – Holy Redeemer – Highland Avenue, Chatham.
Sunday Masses 8:00am, 10:00am, and 11:30am, Saturday Vigil 4:00pm.
Daily Mass 8:00am Confession 3:00-3:30pm Saturday.
Rectory-(508) 945-0677. Mass schedule line (508) 432-2279.

Catholic – Our Lady of Grace – South Chatham,
Route 28 & 137 (Meeting House Road).
2005 Summer Schedule – June 25th – September 4th
Sunday Masses 8:00am, 9:30am and 11:00am. Saturday Vigil 4:30 pm
Rectory – (508) 945-0677. Mass schedule line – (508) 432-2279

Congregational – (United Church of Christ)-Main Street at the rotary, Chatham. Sunday Service 10:00 am. Rev. Dr. David Michael Erickson, Pastor, Rev. Matt Mees, Pastor of Visitation. Childcare and church school provided. Holy Communion celebrated first Sunday of each month. Wheelchair accessible with elevator. Office hours 9:00 am to 2:00 pm Monday through Friday. Church Office 945-0800.

Episcopal – St. Christopher’s – 625 Main Street, Chatham. Sunday 8:00 am Holy Communion; 10:00 am Holy Communion and Sermon (Morning Prayer-4th Sunday). Church School 9:30 am, September-May. Pre-school childcare available. Wednesday 8:30 am Holy Communion and Healing Service. Saturday 5:00 pm, Holy Communion. Tel. 945-2832 and 945-1033. Gift and Consignment Shop Monday thru Saturday 10:00 am-3:30 pm. Tel. 945-2211. Free employment service, 945-2832, Monday and Wednesday 10:00 am-noon, also Friday June-September. The Rev. Whitney H. Burr, Rector; The Rev. Matthew R. Lincoln, Assistant. Fax 945-2832.

Lutheran – St. Peter’s Lutheran Church – Route 137, Harwich, (south of Exit 11 on Route 6). Holy Communion: Summer 8:00 am and 10:00 am; Winter 9:00 and 11:00 am. Educational Hour 10:00 am. For more info 432-5172. Rev. Dr. Jane O’Hara Shields, Pastor.

Methodist – First United-Main at Cross Street. Sunday Service 10:00 am. Communion first Sunday of month. Nursery care, hearing aids, elevator available. Fellowship coffee follows service. Phone 945-0474. the Rev. Henrietta D. Aiello

South Chatham Community – South Chatham Community Church,
an inter-denominational evangelical church. Located at the corner of
Rt. 28 and Mill Creek Road South Chatham. Sunday Worship 9:00 a.m.,
child care and Sunday School for children during the service.
The church is fully accessible. Revs. Robert and Sue Baker co-pastors.
The church Benefit Shop is open year round Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during summer. Call for winter hours. Church phone 508-432-4248

Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, 819 Main Street.
Sunday services at 10:30am. Childcare during worship services all year.
Religious Education Program, “Children’s Circle”, September through
early June, 10:30am-11:45am. Coffee served after the service.
Ed Hardy, Minister; President of the Board of Trustees, John Taft.
For more information, call 945-2075.

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Masonic Lodge – St. Martin’s Lodge A.F. & A.M., 52 Old Harbor Rd., 945-2853. Meetings third Monday, except July and August. Chowder suppers during summer.

Newcomers Club – 3rd Monday of September, November, January, March and May. Hospitality Coffee at 9:30 am and Meeting at 10:00 am. St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church. Social Events in October, December, February and April. Dates and places to be announced. Barbara Iarrobino, President, Jeff Hahner, Membership Director. Email: [email protected]. Website:

Rotary Club – Wednesdays, 6:15 pm, 400 East Restaurant, Rtes 137 & 39, HARWICH; Mailing Address: PO Box 436, Chatham, MA 02633; Tel: 1-800-Rotarian or 508-790-7888 click for meeting schedule

S.P.E.B.S.Q.S.A. Inc. – Mondays, 7:30 pm at Unitarian Church, Route 6A in Barnstable. Call 432-1620 or 432-5391 for info.

Employment Service – St. Christopher’s Church, 625 Main Street. 10:00 am-noon, Monday & Wednesday (Friday, June-September) 945-2832.

Chatham Youth Services – 549 Main Street. (774) 353-7079.
Chatham Youth Services is a wellness based program serving Chatham youth 12 to 18 through counseling, activities, education, and advocacy –

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Telephone Numbers
Area Code (508)
Police EMERGENCY 911
Routine Calls 945-1213
Fire & Ambulance EMERGENCY 911
Routine Calls 945-2324
Permits: Beach, Dump, Shellfish & Mooring 945-5180
Building Inspector 945-5160
Chatham Airport 945-9000
Chatham Drama Guild 945-0510
Coast Guard 945-0164
Council on Aging 945-5190
Creative Arts Center 945-3583
Disposal Area (Waste Transfer Station) 945-5156
Elder Affairs Hotline 1-800-882-2003
Eldredge Public Library 945-5170
Fish Pier 945-5186
Harbormaster 945-5185
Health Inspector 945-5165
Highway Department 945-5155
Bassett House Information Center 945-5199
Liberty Commons of Chatham (Nursing Home) 945-4611
Medicenter Five Inc. 432-4100
Monomoy Community Services Inc. 945-1501
Monomoy Theatre 945-1589
Monomoy Youth and Family Center 945-1117
Post Offices – All Chatham Branches 800-275-8777
Parks Department 945-5158
Planning Director 945-5168
Recreation Center 945-5175
School Administration 945-5130
Selectmen 945-5107
Shellfish Warden 945-5181
Social Security 1-800-772-1213
Taxi 945-0068
Town Administrator 945-5106
Town Clerk 945-5101
United Parcel Service 800-742-5877
Visiting Nurse Association 945-2869
Water Department 945-5150
Western Union 945-2612

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