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Town of Sandwich

One of the oldest towns in the United States and bordering both sides of Cape Cod Canal, Sandwich is rich in history. It was one of the few towns on Cape Cod to lean more towards industrialization rather than whaling and fishing due to its lack of a protected, deepwater port (until the Sandwich Marina was created within the canal). Sandwich Glass Company was a perfect example of this adaptation and Sandwich Glass Museum is a great place to witness some of the fine glass art that was created.


Villages: Sandwich, East Sandwich, South Sandwich, Forestdale

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Sandwich History and Information

The oldest town on Cape Cod and among the oldest in the United States, Sandwich was settled in 1637 and incorporated soon after in 1639. It is located on both sides of the Cape Cod Canal with the majority of its population and landmass on the southerly side of the canal. Sandwich is a mostly residential community with a winter population considerably smaller than the population during the warm summer. Residents feel that its charm and uniqueness combined with its ideal location make Sandwich a very attractive place both to live and visit. Sandwich’s beaches along Cape Cod Bay stretch for miles and provide a wonderful view on a clear day of the many vessels that pass through on their way to or from the Boston area.

Commercial fishermen and lobstermen can be seen daily from the docks at the Sandwich Marina, the only harbor along the canal. Because Sandwich did not have any deepwater harbors similar to other towns, it never developed into a whaling or shipping port, but did become more industrialized than other towns. The Boston and Sandwich Glass Company provided the tables of New England, and the world, with glassware and tableware – at the rate of one hundred thousand pounds a week, turned out by some 500 craftsmen. The guiding spirit behind the glass company, Deming Jarves, was enamored of beautiful glass creations…and spared no expense in bringing some of the finest glassblowers of the world to Sandwich. The town became world-famous for its artglass: some opalescent, other pieces laced with strands of brilliant color, still others so delicate as to rival the finest Venetian examples. Jarves’ insistence on quality and beauty even influenced the making of the company’s main product, pressed glass. The so-called lace glass has a sheen like silver, and appears to be covered with frosty stars. The Boston and Sandwich was to have another 20 years of life. But by the 1880’s the railroads enabled glass companies in the Midwest to ship their goods east. These companies were able to produce glass more cheaply, having all their raw materials at hand. B & G not only had to import fuel, it also, incredibly, had to import sand. The local stuff just wasn’t good for making glass. The factory closed in 1888. The oldest glassworks in America, Pairpoint Crystal (est.1837), is open to the public on Route 6A in nearby Sagamore.

Other historical sites in town center include the Dexter Grist Mill, built in 1654 and restored in 1961. Fresh mill-ground corn is usually for sale in season. Also close by is the Yesteryears Doll and Miniature Museum. It houses antique dolls from Germany, France, China and other countries. The museum also has a collector’s shop. Of special interest to children is the Thornton W. Burgess Museum. It was founded to honor the famous Sandwich author whose storybook characters included Peter Cottontail and Mother West Wind. One mile from the center of town is Sandwich’s largest and best-known attraction, Heritage Plantation. The museum houses a number of diverse collections including 35 antique automobiles from before World War II, antique firearms, military miniatures, and Currier & Ives prints. In May, the grounds blossom into a sea of flowering rhododendrons that are an attraction unto themselves. To explore the town’s true natural beauty, take the Sandwich Boardwalk, which crosses a creek and marsh through low dunes to Town Neck Beach. Other local beaches include Spring Hill and East Sandwich Beach. Nearby Shawme-Crowell State Forest offers clean, comfortable campsites and RV facilities on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Points of Interest

1 Thornton W. Burgess Museum – This museum, dedicated to the Sandwich-born author of the children’s literary classic ‘Peter Rabbit and the Briar Patch,’ features memorabilia of his life and legacy. There is also a gift shop on the premises. Located on Water Street.

2 Heritage Plantation – An extensive representation of early Cape Cod life, there are exhibits here to please all ages. Many of them decorate the meticulously manicured grounds including a 1912 carousel, an 1800s windmill that still grinds corn and a stone-built Shaker Round Barn housing Gary Cooper’s 1931 Duesenburg. Nature trails and a picnic area also accent the property. Other exhibits include a collection of 34 pre-WWII automobiles; and military museum with war miniatures, period firearms and replica flags. Located on the corner of Pine and Grove Streets.

3 Hoxie House – This landmark is the oldest home in Sandwich and has been restored to its 17th Century appearance. Built in 1675 for Rev. John Smith, it still uses 20 percent of the original timber structure. Located on Water Street off Route 130.

4 Sandwich Glass Museum – Showcasing glass from around the world, this collection includes over 6,000 examples of 19th Century Boston and Sandwich Glass Company glassware. Everything from vintage jars to vases to blown glass are represented here. The building’s windows themselves are also decorative examples and give off kaleidoscope colors on bright days. Located on Main Street in Town Hall Square.

5 Yesteryears Doll Museum – The First Parish Meetinghouse houses this international collection of children’s dolls. The structure, built in 1638, also features a collector’s gift shop offering antique dollhouses, toys and miniatures. Located on the corner of Main and River Streets.

6 Green Briar Nature Center & Jam Kitchen – This conservation center offers nature trails and natural history exhibits, the old-fashioned kitchen still produces jams, jellies and relishes using traditional 19th Century methods. Located on Discovery Hill Road at Route 6A.

7 Shawme-Crowell State Forest – 280 campsites dot this wooded park featuring a variety of trees and wildlife. Sites are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Most include picnic tables, grills and all have nearby bathroom facilities. Open in the summertime. Winter self-contained units are allowed. Located on Route 130.

Beaches– Beach stickers are sold at the Sandwich Town Hall, Ph# (508) 888-4910.

  • East Sandwich Beach
  • Sandy Neck Beach- Towering sand dunes and beautiful scenery define much of this year round beach. Great place to go 4wheelin. For more information call the Sandy Neck gatehouse at 508-362-8306.
  • Scorton Neck Beach
  • Scusset Beach
  • Snake pond Beach
  • Springhill Beach
  • Town Neck Beach- Can be found at the entrance to Sandwich Harbor. Take a swim or check out the Sandwich boardwalk that crosses Mill Creek.
  • Wakeby Pond Beach
  • Wing Park Beach

Golf Courses
Holly ridge Golf Club 508-428-5577
Otis Golf Club (Military) 508-563-2150
Ridge Club 508-428-6800
Round Hill Country Club 508-888-3384