Visit the Atwood House & Museum
Step Back to Cape Cod of centuries past. Your journey begins with a tour of the dwelling built circa 1752 by Chatham sea captain Joseph Atwood, and occupied by his descendants for some five generations. Since 1927, this Cape Cod style home has been carefully preserved as an historical house museum offering the rare opportunity to experience Cape Cod life, art, and culture of the 18th and 19th centuries. Captain Atwood’s antique dwelling never had running water or central heating. It is fully furnished, as it would have been in the course of its history, with colonial and early American antiques, artwork, accessories, housewares, clothing and toys.
Explore the Museum grounds and outbuildings of unique historical interest:
- 18th century Herb Garden, planted and maintained by The Chatham Garden Club.
- Meneely Bell Chimes.
- The Nickerson North Beach Camp on the museum grounds. A dune shack built in 1947 and moved here in 1991 because of the danger of erosion and washover, the camp was saved by bringing it to the mainland for an exhibit. It demonstrates the unique Chatham experience of camping out on the barrier beach. Learn about the current washover and learn more about the “breaks” that have occurred during the past 50 years.
- Rare working lantern house from one of the historic Chatham Twin Lights. The housing dates to 1877, and the Fresnel lens, manufactured in France, was installed in 1923. Both were donated to the Society in 1969 when the Coast Guard updated the lighthouse.
Discover Cape Cod’s captivating history, art, and culture at the Chatham Historical Society’s expanded and upgraded Atwood House & Museum. In addition to the 18th century Atwood House at its core, Museum highlights include:
- The Joseph A. Nickerson, Jr. Portrait Gallery, displaying Chatham-born local sea captains, painted by Frederick Wight.
- The Mural Barn, housing the nationally-renowned paintings of local residents by Alice Stallknecht Wight.
- The Fishing Gallery, dedicated to the history, personalities, and various techniques of Chatham’s commercial fishing industry – the first of its kind.
- Special and multi-media exhibits on regional history, art, and culture.
- The Historic Tools and Industry Room, including a scale model of Chatham salt works, once a thriving Cape Cod industry in the early 1800’s.
- The Durand Gallery, featuring the collections of the Durand family — Sandwich threaded glass; Parian Ware; a prized collection of carved birds by A.E. Crowell; and seashells from around the world.
- The Joseph C. Lincoln Gallery containing manuscripts, first editions, illustrations and ephemera related to the Cape Cod author. Lincoln’s plumed pen weathervane that graced his former home on Shore Road, Crosstrees, is a new addition to the gallery. Also featured is an exhibit of stills from the movie “Chatham”, based on his book “Cap’n Eri” and photographed on location here on Cape Cod.
Planning Your Visit
Start here to plan your visit to the Atwood Museum.
Follow links to pages with more detailed information.
When to Visit:
- The Atwood Museum is open for visitors on a regular schedule from Memorial Day weekend in May through October.
- In June, July, August, and September, the Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday. In October the Museum is open Friday and Saturday. See the detailed schedule here.
- You can make a reservation for your visit by clicking here or stop by the museum and we will take walk-ins as our capacity allows.
- While visitors are welcome to enjoy the Museum on their own, docents are available whenever the Museum is open to answer questions or guide you through the galleries. Visits to the 1750’s Atwood House are offered during regular hours by well trained guides.
- The Atwood Museum welcomes group tours and on occasion can accommodate them when the Museum is otherwise closed. For information about scheduling a group visit please see below.
- Coming to do research in the Archives or Library? See the Research Procedures page. You need not come when the Museum is open to visitors; in fact, the best time to come for research purposes is off-season.
- Read about accessibility at the museum here.
Getting to the Museum:
- The street address is 347 Stage Harbor Rd, Chatham, MA 02633.
- By car: Put the above address into your GPS, or get more detailed driving directions on our Location & Directions page.
- Walk or bike from town or surrounding area: The Museum is one-half mile south of the Chatham town center. Take Stage Harbor Road from the traffic circle at the top of Main Street; follow it past Oyster Pond; just stay on Stage Harbor Rd. until you arrive at the Atwood Museum on your left. There are sidewalks for the first 4/10 mile, then you need to walk on the grass shoulder of Stage Harbor Rd.
Alternatively, come out of town on Cross Street; at the end of Cross Street take a left on Stage Harbor Rd, and the Atwood Museum is a quarter-mile further down Stage Harbor Rd on your left.
View a local map of this section of Chatham.
Biking this area is easy.
- The GPS location of the Museum is: N 41° 40.396 W 069° 57.914
(Latitude: 41.673274 Longitude: -69.965237)
At the Museum:
- Visiting Time: Plan to spend an hour or two in the Museum; of course it is fascinating enough to spend twice that amount of time, but most visitors spend an hour or more inside the Museum. Spend another half-hour on the grounds exploring the North Beach Camp, and Chatham’s Twin Light.
- Tour the Old Atwood House. Tours are with a docent, and are included with admission to the Museum.
- Spend some time in the Gift Shop.
Spend Time in Chatham:
- The Chatham Chamber of Commerce has a great list of links for Historic Places in Chatham.
Become a Member
Location & Hours
347 Stage Harbor Road
Chatham, MA 02633
Group Tours at the Atwood Museum
The Atwood Museum welcomes group tours. Visits can be designed to give a general introduction to the museum or to focus on a topic of special interest to a group. During the summer and autumn months when the museum is open to the public, the scheduling of tours is coordinated with the regular museum hours to insure that both tour participants and regular visitors have enjoyable experiences. It is also possible to schedule visits for tour groups during the months when the museum is closed to the public. For information about group tour scheduling, fees, and program options please call or email the museum. Contact details can be found on the Connect page.