See Main Street Cape Cod at the Atwood Museum!

One of the great joys of visiting Cape Cod is traveling to each of its villages, from Falmouth to Provincetown, and seeing their iconic structures, preserved from days gone by. This summer, you can visit the historical versions of many of those Main Streets, all in one place!

The Main Gallery exhibit at the Atwood Museum is “Main Street Cape Cod,” the result of a collaboration of the Chatham Historical Society with many other museums and historic societies across the Cape. Some historical organizations which worked with the Atwood Museum are the Falmouth Museums on the Green, the Wellfleet Historical Society, the Sandwich Glass Museum, the Historic Society of Old Yarmouth and many more! The “Main Street Cape Cod” exhibit explores how the central street running through each community defined and shaped their heritage.

For Chatham, there are displays and relics from the Orpheum Theater and Eldredge Library. From other parts of the Cape, images and articles are on loan from historical societies and museums highlighting unique stories and unusual aspects of each town.

Aside from being the principal thoroughfare road through an area, Main Street USA usually shaped and located the town center, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was the focal point where commerce took place and people gathered to share news, forming the central core of a community. Cape Cod was no different. And while town centers and main streets may have moved over time, the central roads left landmarks and stories shaping local history.

Main streets on Cape Cod developed in the late 1800s, when the population grew rapidly and communities were thriving. They usually included a post office, town hall, meetinghouse, churches, and stores. As technology and transportation progressed, town centers and industries changed. Remnants of these centers remain today and define many unique aspects of each town and village across the Cape.

Come and walk down Main Street, Cape Cod at the Atwood Museum.

Take Home a Piece of History!

The latest publication from the Chatham Historical Society, Inc. features images from Main Streets all around Cape Cod, along with stories of how these towns have changed over time. Flip through some sample pages here, and come visit the exhibition to purchase a copy of your own from our gift shop and other locations around the Cape! The price is $22, or $19.80 for members and you can reserve a copy to pick up by emailing [email protected]

Become a Member

Location & Hours


Atwood Museum
347 Stage Harbor Road
Chatham, MA 02633