Sandwich was settled in 1637 and incorporated two years later – marked by the building of a Town House at the corner of River and Main Street. Both Town Meetings and religious services were held there for almost two hundred years until legislation was passed to separate church and state in 1833. Sandwich immediately began plans to build a new Town Hall and used Greek Revival architecture to represent the community commitment to democratic values.
Another very significant dynamic in the Town’s early days was the rise of Quakerism. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) challenged the regional government who at the time mandated attendance and contributions to the Pilgrim Church. Christopher Holder, a Quaker from England, preached in Sandwich and converted many. Plymouth Colony authorities fined and persecuted the Sandwich Quakers who often had to meet in secret. Sandwich’s leaders by and large felt they should let the Quakers worship as they wished unharassed, and thus the Sandwich Quaker Meetings are the oldest continuously kept Friends Meetings in the United States.
During the Revolutionary War, Sandwich residents generally supported the Patriot cause but there were some with strong Tory beliefs which led to several episodes of conflict. In 1775 a Liberty Pole was erected in the Village and a large group rallied to march to the Barnstable County Courthouse to demand the Court no longer act in the name of the King. While they were away, a group of Tories cut down the Liberty Pole but were apprehended and punished. A few days later, a prominent Patriot, Doctor Nathaniel Freeman was accosted and beaten while walking through town. The Tories involved were apprehended and punished. A sizable group of Sandwich residences were forced to leave for Nova Scotia when their support of Britain made them unwelcome in Sandwich.
Until 1825 Sandwich was a small close-knit community of farmers and fishermen. At that time it underwent it’s most dramatic change when Boston businessman Deming Jarves built a glass factory by the site of the current Boardwalk. The factory grew rapidly into one of the largest producers of glassware in the country. Over 500 workers produced over five million pieces of glass annually by the 1850s. Many of the skilled workers were imported, some from Ireland, creating the Cape’s first Catholic population and establishing its first Catholic Church. Workers housing was built by the company and clustered near the factory in the part of town still known as Jarvesville. Managers and the highest skilled craftsmen lived in the Village area where many of their homes stand today.
The glass factory produced a huge range of items – at this time glass became affordable for extensive use by the middle class. By the 1880s however, the glass factory was closed due to the labor strikes, an economic depression, the loss of Jarves’ leadership, and new factories being built further west which were closer to natural gas fuel sources.
This significant event was remarkably almost 300 years in coming. In 1623 the Pilgrims scouted the land between the Manomet and Scusset rivers, a traditional Native American portage, and determined this would be the best route for a canal. In 1697 the General Court of Massachusetts considered a formal proposal to build a canal, but no action was taken. In 1776 George Washington, concerned about its military implications, had the location examined. Attempts were made later to actually dig the canal, but soon failed. Finally, in 1909 work was begun on what is now the longest sea-level canal in the world.
After the glass factory closed, the town slumbered for almost 75 years until national prosperity and improved roads brought tourists and an increasing number of residents. From 1950 to 2000 the population expanded rapidly from approximately 1,500 residents to about 20,000. Startled by its rapid growth, the community made a commitment to historic preservation and land conservation beginning in the 1960s, recognizing that the protection of historic sites and unspoiled lands was vital to Sandwich’s heritage tourism, unique environment, and quality of life.
Sandwich plays host to many pristine sandy beaches, with their spectacular view of the sunset, and create the stage for fun and excitement for the whole family…
In addition to being a haven for endangered bird and wildlife, this 6 mile long coastal barrier beach known as Sandy Neck also shares a unique ecology and rich cultural history. This is one of the most beautiful beaches on the cape. There are dunes and a long stretch of sandy beaches. There is an off-road beach, a public beach and miles of trails here.
East Sandwich Beach, located on North Shore Road, is situated behind the grass-covered dunes beyond a row of gray-shingle beach cottages. It’s a long stretch of sand.
At Town Neck Beach, you can watch boats pass through the Cape Cod Canal. Nice, large rocky beach with great inlet. Long, dune-backed bay beach with a mix of sand and pebbles. Nice view. Calm water. Family beach. Large parking. Attendant on duty. Rock jetties. Short walk to beach. Here the Sandwich Boardwalk spans the saltwater marsh taking visitors right to Cape Cod Bay.
East Sandwich Beach, Sandy Neck Beach, and Town Neck Beach are all conveniently located one hour from Boston, Providence and Provincetown with easy access from Route 6A. Sandwich beaches makes a great way for you to spend the afternoon by soaking up some cape cod sun…
As the first town settled on the Cape and with its proximity to the Sagamore Bridge, Sandwich is the place where Cape Cod’s legendary beauty and hospitality begin.
For those who love fresh air and moving freely outdoors, Sandwich has miles of coastal marsh providing hiking and kayaking experiences like no other. Ride your bike along the Cape Cod Canal, the widest sea-level canal in the world, and enjoy the view of boats, ships and an active and colorful fishing community. Kayak the meandering salt marshes or hike to the top of the ridge in Maple Swamp. Visit the picturesque and historic Sandwich Boardwalk which stretches plank by plank out to the Bay.
Then there are the beaches and marina. Boating on Cape Cod Bay is exhilarating – face-to-face with the Atlantic Ocean is sure to leave you rosy-cheeked and invigorated. Or, shift gears towards a leisurely day at one of our beaches – low tide offers warm accessible tidal pools perfect for younger children to explore. All these ways to get out and play are family-friendly and make Sandwich a great destination for the nature-loving and active visitor.
This seaside community has retained its small town New England charm with a historic center. The heart of the Village is the 1834 Town Hall where residents still go to access town services. Next door is a working grist mill grinding corn since 1654 and nearby is the Hoxie House, a museum house showing what family life was like in the 1600s. A short stroll down Main and Jarves Streets leads to beautiful boutiques, gourmet food and wine, art galleries or a cup of tea in a quaint tea room or a meal in a one-of-a-kind restaurant.
Sandwich is rich with historical and working museums. Heritage Museums & Gardens offers lush and inspiring gardens, an antique car museum and an antique working carousel. The Wing Fort House and the Nye House pay tribute to the tenacity and hard work of our forbearers. The Green Briar Nature Center and Jam Kitchen take visitors back to the experience the simple pleasures of a life lived with reverence to nature (and a kitchen bubbling with wonderful smells!).
In 1825 Sandwich underwent it’s most dramatic change when Deming Jarves built a glass factory down by the site of the current Boardwalk. The factory grew rapidly to be one of the largest producers in the country with over 500 workers producing over five million pieces of glass annually by the 1850s. By the 1880s however, the glass factory was closed due to the labor strikes, an economic depression, and new factories being built further closer to natural gas fuel sources.
Glass is still of great cultural significance to Sandwich and there are several opportunities to witness the drama and color of live glass blowing. The Sandwich Glass Museum houses original pieces created during the 1800’s and provides demonstrations of glass blowing techniques. The museum’s theater shows a great documentary of the history of Sandwich. Throughout the village there are several glass blowers and artists with open studios to visit, creating a dynamic center for contemporary glass art.
Sandwich’s local, independent businesses have created a thriving and unique shopping environment. From custom jewelry, to gifts, books and treasures for the home, you are guaranteed a relaxing day in the shops with friendly and personal attention. Because Sandwich has avoided strip-mall style development, it has retained its unique character, charm and sense of community. Shops and restaurants reflect the styles and passions of their owners and customers, not a corporate branding campaign. The Shop Sandwich First campaign is a good way to find the special places where the locals go by looking for the Shop Sandwich First logo.
Historic homes with their own stories to tell populate the Village area. Notice the white oval plaques on many charming old homes in Sandwich, both grand and humble? These markers are part of a program by the Sandwich Historic Commission to highlight the depth of history in Sandwich and to recognize the original owners who built Sandwich and are an interwoven part of its history.
A few years ago Sandwich was declared one of Coastal Magazine’s best places to live – and that is saying a lot for a magazine that covers both coasts! While you can tour Sandwich in a few days – like other places with that inexplicable thing called “soul” – the longer you stay, the more layers of rich history you uncover, the more people you meet and hear their stories, the more you will appreciate the flavor of Sandwich as the place where Cape Cod magic begins.