Tour 1: Descriptions

130 Main St.: Town Hall (1834)

At the 1834 Town Meeting, Sandwich citizens voted to erect a new Town Hall at the northern end of Lower Shawme Lake at the intersection of Main and Grove Streets (130 Main Street) on bog land donated by the Newcomb family at 8 Grove Street. Construction was preceded by extensive filling of the marshy land with gravel. The large building included an upper hall capable of seating 500 people.
In 1914, a fouteeen-foot addition was made at the south end, to contain, among other things, a stage and dressing rooms, indicating the upper hall’s use for theatrical productions and, later, movies.
Town Hall has recently been restored to its original condition and movies and shows are again presented on the 2nd floor. Of special note is the beautifully restored ceiling decoration.

Architectural Description

Built by Ellis Howland, the two-story, Greek Revival, temple-front building is sited close to the street at the intersection of Grove and Main Streets. It rests on a cut granite and fieldstone foundation, is sheathed in wood clapboards, has corner pilasters and a wide frieze. The monumental recessed center entrance has wide channeled pilasters and two fluted Doric columns. The five-bay side elevations have tall windows with 12/12 sash on the first floor and 16/16 sash on the second. In the rear is a short full-width addition with a flat roof.

136 Main St.: Congregational Church (1848)

Sandwich had long been home to the early Protestant church of many of its settlers. The First Parish Meetinghouse (143 Main Street) continued to grow and expand but when in the early 1800s the clergyman, Jonathan Burr, began to preach hard Calvinistic doctrines contrary to his wide liberal background, the people rebelled. Many stayed away from church, and one nailed his pew shut and boarded over the top. In July of 1811 Burr was prevented from occupying his pulpit by an organized group of outsiders and could not make himself heard due to outsiders chanting in the gallery. He accordingly marched out with his followers and held service at another place (most likely at a room in Fessenden’s Tavern).

In 1813, the conservative Burr supporters split off and built a chapel on land (at today’s 136 Main St.) bought for $200 from James Dillingham, who lived next door at 1 Water St. (see below). The Calvinistic Congregational Society in Sandwich was legally incorporated in February of 1814. Town legend has it that the Treasurer of the First Parish Church, Melatiah Bourne, who lived just north of  the new Calvinistic Church, had a small barn near the property line and made it a point to stir up the animals when services were going on. This accordingly became known as “The Spite Barn.”

The First Parish liberals stayed at the Meetinghouse and aligned themselves with the Unitarians. The American Unitarian Association was founded in 1825, and in 1833, the Meetinghouse was replaced with the Unitarian First Parish Church (see 143 Main St.)

In 1848 the chapel at 136 Main Street was replaced with a new Calvinistic Congregational Church. The building's graceful design was in stark contrast to the former plain square or rectangular meeting houses built up until then. Its spire design is often spoken of as reminiscent of the London spires designed by Christopher Wren. At its dedication the Sandwich Observer reported, "We can only say that the house is thoroughly built of the best materials and after a beautiful plan; and that it is fitted up in as good style as any house in the country. The cost is $6,000.00." In 1861 an excellent organ, built by & G.G. Hook, was installed for the sum of $675.00. A photo of the church was used as a backdrop for Elvis Presley's 1960's album, "How Great Thou Art."

By World War I the Sandwich population had shrunk drastically and the three central Protestant Churches had combined. In 1918 the Methodists, Unitarians and Congregationalists formed the Sandwich Federated Church. For several years services were held for three-month periods in each structure. It was then decided to use the Unitarian Church for worship since it was the easiest to heat. A few summer services were held at the Congregational Church; however, each of the three parent churches maintained its own legal identity. The Methodist Church was sold in 1927 to the Masonic Lodge. Meetings of the Federated Church were shifted over to the Congregational building (new United Church of Christ) in 1960 following installation of a new heating facility. The Unitarian First Parish Church at 143 Main Street was sold in 1965, was operated as “Yesterday’s Doll Museum" for a period and today is a private residence. The Calvinist Congregational Church is today known as "First Church, An Open and Affirming Congregation of The United Church of Christ."

Architectural Description

The Calvinist Congregational Church, now First Church of Christ, was designed by Isaac Melvin of Cambridgeport based upon designs from English architectural pattern books, and is sited on a rise above Main Street. This Greek Revival building sits on a granite foundation and has a main gabled block with four broad pilasters supporting Ionic capitals and a broad entablature with modillion blocks. The center pavilion with a pedimented and denticulated entrance echoes the pavilion pediment above. The spire often spoken of as reminiscent of the London spires designed by Christopher Wren) is broken into three stages, with a lower square section with pediments and dentils, an open fluted columned belfry on an octagonal base, and an eight-sided spire. The fa├žade of the church entrance and tower is sheathed in wood flushboard, and the body of the church is sheathed in wood clapboards. Windows are located on the side walls of the entrance tower and along the side elevations, and have 16/16 replacement sash with paneled shutters and pedimented lintels.

138 Main St.: The Melatiah Bourne House (ca.1711)

Melatiah Bourne (1674-1742) came to Sandwich from Falmouth in 1710 and purchased a house and land from John Dexter, the former miller. According to historian Russell Lovell, this house was located on the millstream between the old meetinghouse and the grist mill which places it at about the present town comfort station. About 1711 Bourne built a new saltbox house on the bank across Main Street (at the present day #138 location). The house was originally on 6 acres of land. Melatiah became a distinguished and wealthy judge. His grandfather Richard was the missionary after whom the town of Bourne is named. When Melatiah died in 1742 the home passed to his son, Colonel Silas Bourne. In 1813 a descendent, also named Melatiah, was Treasurer of the First Parish Church (see 143 Main Street). There was a split in the church and conservative parishioners were voted out. They formed a new Calvinistic Society and built a chapel on land which just happened to be right next door to the Bourne property. There is a story that Bourne had a small barn near the chapel and made it a point to stir the animals when services were going on. This became known as “The Spite Barn” and part of town legend. This barn building was later moved across Main Street and over the millstream and is incorporated into today’s Sandwich Glass Museum.    

The house at 138 Main Street was occupied by Bourne descendants until 1862 when it was purchased by Ebenezer Stowell Whittemore who quickly became a central figure in town as speaker, lawyer, Trial Justice and founder of the Board of Health. He was a “Special Contributor” to Simeon L. Deyo’s History of Barnstable County which was published in 1890.

143 Main St.: First Parish (Unitarian) Church (1833) (now, private residence)

In addition to Sandwich Village becoming the center of early town government, it had long been home to the early Protestant church of many of its settlers. The First Parish Meetinghouse continued to grow and was again expanded in 1804. In 1812, the parish split, with liberals keeping the meetinghouse and aligning themselves with the Unitarians. The American Unitarian Association was founded in 1825, and the meetinghouse became the First Parish Church (Unitarian). In 1833, the meetinghouse was replaced with the present First Parish (Unitarian) Church building at 143 Main Street. The church was sold in 1965 to private owners and for many years operated as Yesteryears Doll Museum. It is now a private residence. The building originally had a two-faced clock which was donated by a slave named Titus Winchester “so that it would ring for many years to come in memory of his former master.” Read more about the "Old Titus Clock." A side note: when the Unitarian Society tried to pass title in 1965 they found there was no deed available since it was the direct inheritor of the meeting house that had occupied that site since the first settlement in 1637.

Architectural Description

The church was designed by Whittemore Peterson of Duxbury, Massachusetts, and contains both Greek Revival and Gothic Revival elements. The building consists of a large, front-gabled rectangular block with a tower integrated into the front gable end. It rests on a granite foundation, is sheathed in vinyl clapboard siding, and the roof is covered with asphalt shingles. The front elevation has three large pointed-arch windows, and a center entrance with a monumental entablature carried by Greek key pilasters. Three pointed-arch windows are also found on each side elevation. The low square tower has an elongated hipped-roof clock spire. The partially exposed basement level, between the beltcourse demarcating the first floor and the foundation, is sheathed in wood made to appear as rusticated stone blocks. Windows have 9/9 and 6/6 sash, and there are two entrances along River Street with open gabled hoods supported by simple braces. The church was converted to a private residence in the late 20th century.

148-150 Main Street: The W. E. Boyden House (1857)

William Ellis Boyden was born in 1806. He ran the Plymouth/Sandwich Stage coach operation starting in 1822. When the Cape Cod Branch Railroad came to town in the mid 1800s, he formed the Cape Cod Express Company for handling, packing, picking up and delivering local freight and for moving the mail between post offices and trains. Boyden was a chief supporter of a Universalist religious society which built a church in 1845 on the corner of Main and Summer Streets. Membership soon declined and the church was closed in 1869. 

Boyden served as President of the new Sandwich Savings Bank which was founded in 1856 by glass factory owner Deming Jarves and other local merchants and landowners.In 1857 he built what became known as the "Boyden Block" on Main Street between the Unitarian Church and the Central House. It consisted of a long building of several shops and a meeting hall upstairs. He also built a large livery stable adjoining where he kept his old Plymouth stage coaches. The Boyden Block was destroyed by fire in 1913.

Architectural Description

By the 1850s, architectural ornamentation and form began to transition from the Greek Revival to the Italianate and other styles popular at the time. A few large mid-century Italianate houses are found on Main Street, one is located on Water Street. Other transitional houses display both Greek Revival and Italianate ornamentation.

The W. E. Boyden House is a large 2½ story house built with both Greek Revival and Italianate features. The house consists of a four-bay, gable-front main block, and a five-bay, two-story wing extending from the rear of the right side elevation. The house rests on a granite foundation, is sheathed in wood clapboards, and has windows with 6/6 sash set in molded surrounds and wood shutters. Centered in the five-bay wing is an Italianate door with denticulated entablature. A second entrance on the right side elevation of the main block has similar detailing. A one-story porch supported by paired posts encloses the right side elevation of the main block and the full width of the wing. The main block has two chimneys rising from the ridge, and the wing has one interior chimney. The roof eaves have decorative paired brackets. In addition to the wing, there is a 1½-story end-gable ell extending from the rear of the house. There is also a one-bay garage set in the back of the property, and the street edge of the property has a granite and wood fence.

1 Water St.: John Dillingham House (1740)

The John Dillingham House is a large Georgian house set across Lower Shawme Lake from the Grist Mill. John Dillingham (1710-1797) built the house in 1740, and it remained in the Dillingham family until the mid 19th century when it was bought by Anthony Chapouil Jr. (1804-1892). Chapouil came to Sandwich to work for the Boston & Sandwich Glass Company. Abigail Russell Gifford Bicknell (1839-1922), a descendant of Chapouil by marriage, inherited the property in 1900 and operated a tea room in the house. After her death in 1922, the house was purchased by Colonel H. P. Dunbar who renovated the house and constructed the three-bay carriage house. The house was purchased by the town in 1974 and sold, with a preservation restriction, to a private owner in 1993. The carriage house is now used as a tea room.

Architectural Description

1 Water Street is an example of a 2½ story, five-bay Georgian Colonial. This house is set back on a rise above the original portion of Water Street. The house rests on a brick foundation, is sheathed in wood clapboards, and the roof is covered with wood shingles and has a center chimney. The center entrance has a Colonial Revival, broken-pedimented, denticulated entablature with sidelights and fluted pilasters on both sides of the sidelights, installed after the house was bought by Colonel H. P. Dunbar in 1925. Windows have 12/12 sash set in molded surrounds. There is a one-story, side-gabled wing extending from the right elevation, and a smaller end-gable wing extending from the left elevation.