Known as “America’s Hometown” Plymouth, Massachusetts is home to some unique historical sites. Established in 1620, the original Mayflower immigrants were believed to have landed in Plymouth and formed the historic Plymouth colony.
In this article, we will look at some of the historic sites in Plymouth that can still be seen today from this unique period in US history and throughout its colorful past.
Address: 79 Water Street, Plymouth, MA
One of the more notable spots in Plymouth is Plymouth Rock. Legend has it that the rock marks the spot where the Mayflower Pilgrims first landed in 1620.
Interestingly, the rock was not mentioned in any written record until 1741. A man named Thomas Faunce claimed that his father and several other immigrants noted it as the original point of disembarkation.
The stone has gone through many changes since 1620. It’s been broken in half and cemented back together. The “1620” carving was added in the 1880s and the structure you see surrounding it today was added in the 1920s.
Address: School Street, Plymouth, MA
Burial Hill is the second oldest cemetery in Plymouth, making it one of the oldest in the country.
The burial ground sits in the location of the original colonist’s stone fort that doubled as a meeting house. The fort was abandoned in 1676 after the end of King Phillip’s War ended.
Some of America’s founding fathers can be found buried here. Additionally, the site offers some beautiful views of the ocean below.
Address: Carver St, Plymouth, Mass
If you are wondering what Plymouth’s oldest cemetery is, this is it! The colonists didn’t place any headstones here, so it wasn’t exactly obvious to the uninformed observer the significance of the location.
The construction of a military fort and heavy rains lead to erosion and the exposure of human remains in the 18th century. Additional remains were found in the 19th century during a public works project.
Address: 394 Old Sandwich Road, Plymouth, MA
Not to be lost in the history of Plymouth is the role of Native Americans in the area. While the exact meaning of sacrifice rock isn’t known for sure, it is believed the members of the Wampanoag tribe would place sticks or stones on the rock while passing as a sacrifice or to request safe passage.
Richard Sparrow House
Address: 42 Summer Street, Plymouth, MA
Now operating as a museum and gallery, the Richard Sparrow House is the oldest surviving house in Plymouth. The house was constructed in 1640 by the English surveyor, Richard Sparrow.
It’s important to note that Richard Sparrow was not one of the original Mayflower pilgrims. He didn’t arrive in Plymouth until about 1636.
Jabez Howland House
Address: 33 Sandwich Street, Plymouth, MA
While the Richard Sparrow House may be the oldest surviving house in Plymouth, the Jabez Howland House has the unique privilege of being the only existing house where Mayflower pilgrims lived.
This two-story timber-framed house was built in 1667 by Jacob Mitchell. The house was later purchased by Jabez Howland, son of the Mayflower pilgrims John and Elizabeth Howland. John and Elizabeth both spent winters here and Elizabeth lived in the house full time after her husband died.
The house was privately owned until the early 1900s. In 1940, it was refurbished and restored to its original 17th-century appearance.
1749 Court House
Address: 1 Town Square, Plymouth, MA
This is a real treat for all of you government workers. The 1749 Court House is the oldest wooden courthouse in all of the US and the longest used municipal building in America.
The first courthouse was built in 1640 and then re-built in 1670. The 1749 courthouse is believed to have incorporated elements from the 1670 building.
A new courthouse was built in 1820, but the town of Plymouth purchased the courthouse and opened it as a museum in 1970.
The Plimouth Grist Mill
Address: 6 Spring Lane, Plymouth, MA
The Plimouth Grist Mill is a 1970s recreation of the original Jenny Grist Mill that was located on the same spot in 1636.
While it’s not the original grist mill, it’s still an exactly accurate recreation of a water-powered corn grinding mill. Corn was an essential crop for the Plymouth colonists, who would’ve relied on the grill to make cornmeal.
1809 Hedge House Museum
Address: 126 Water Street, Plymouth, MA
If you are looking to see what life was like about 150 years after the Mayflower pilgrims landed in Plymouth head over to the Hedge House Museum. This unique federal-period home was built by sea captain William Hammatt and later purchased by merchant Thomas Hedge.
The house has octagonal rooms and an intact carriage house, which is a rare find nowadays. The house underwent extensive renovations from 2002-2007 and was re-opened to the public in 2007.
Mayflower Society House
Address: 4 Winslow Street, Plymouth, MA
This building has a unique history. It was originally built by Edward Winslow, a loyalist during the revolutionary war, in 1754. After he fled, the house was sold and changed ownership several times.
The house was then purchased by the Jackson family and played host to the wedding of famed writer Ralph Waldo Emerson and Lidian Jackson’s wedding.
If that wasn’t enough history, during World War II the house also served as the Red Cross Headquarters. In 1941, the house was purchased by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants and is now a museum open to the public.
Plymouth Cordage Company Museum
Address: 36 Cordage Park Circle, Plymouth, MA
The Plymouth Cordage Company was established in 1824 and became one of the largest rope manufactures in the United States during the industrial revolution.
The company was founded by Bruce Spooner who was famed for wanting his company to be worked with free labor (i.e., no slaves). In 1965 the company was sold, and the building has since been converted into a museum.
First Parish Church in Plymouth
Address: 19 Town Square, Plymouth, Massachusetts
While the building itself was not built until 1899, the congregation it houses was founded in 1620 and is said to be the oldest congregation in the US in continuous operation.
National Monument to the Forefathers
Address: 72 Allerton Street, Plymouth, MA
While the monument was built in remembrance of the historical landing of the Mayflower pilgrims, the monument itself is actually a historical landmark.
The monument is 81 feet tall and made entirely out of granite. This makes it the largest granite status in the World.
It was commissioned by the Pilgrim Society in the 1850s and completed by Hammatt Billings in 1899.
Pilgrim Hall Museum
Address: 75 Court Street, Plymouth, MA
This is yet another building that was built to highlight an important part of America’s history but has since become a part of history in itself. Constructed in 1824, the Pilgrim Hall Museum is known as the oldest continuously operating public museum in the United States.
The museum does a good job featuring artifacts from the Mayflower pilgrims, while also paying respect to the Wampanoag Indians who lived in the area long before the pilgrims arrived.
For more activities please check out our “Plymouth Must See & Do“.