Historical Scavenger Hunt: 25 Artifacts and Attractions that Honor Plymouth’s Past

What better place to search for unique historical artifacts than Plymouth? If you’re local, you can use this list to test your knowledge or share it with your out-of-state friends the next time they visit and ask, “So what’s there to see in Plymouth?” Most items on the list can be viewed for little or no money. Here’s your chance to see the stuff that history is made of.

By David Kindy | Photography by Kris Hughes

1. Click Clack

Before smartphones, there w as the typewriter. Kids will gawk when they view this original piece of equipment at the Plymouth Cordage Rope Factory Museum, which is filled with artifacts from the rope-making era. Open weekends. 10 Cordage Park Circle, plymouthcordageco.org


2. Rock Me Gently

Peregrine White, the first European baby born in New England in 1620, was rocked in this cradle onboard the Mayflower. You can view a variety of Pilgrim possessions at Pilgrim Hall Museum, the nation’s oldest continuously operated museum. Open daily. 75 Court St., Plymouth, 508-746-1620, pilgrimhall.org


3. Take a Seat

This chair inside the 1749 Spooner House is believed to have been owned by John Hancock, the man who famously scrawled his large signature on the Declaration of Independence. The house also houses a collection of china and paintings. Open Thursday and Sunday, June through August. 27 North St., Plymouth, 508-746-0012, plymouthantiquariansociety.org


4. Sew What

This antique carved (ivory or whale bone) sewing box is one of the interesting antiques you can see at the 1809 Hedge House, which also houses a collection of china and paintings. Open Wednesday through Sunday, June through August. 126 Water St., Plymouth, 508-746-0012, plymouthantiquariansociety.org


5. We’re Out of Beer

It is said that one of the reasons the Pilgrims dropped anchor in Plymouth was that they ran out of beer. See this handmade beer barrel in the 1677 Harlow Old Fort House, one of the town’s oldest homes. Open Tuesdays, June through August. 119 Sandwich St., 508-746-0012, plymouthantiquariansociety.org


6. Page Turner

This 1599 Geneva Bible, similar to the one the Pilgrims prayed from, is displayed at the Mayflower Society House, a home built by the great grandson of the Pilgrim Edward Winslow. Open daily, May 13-October 30. Closed Memorial Day and Independence Day. 4 Winslow St., Plymouth, 508-746-3188, themayflowersociety.org


7. Still Standing

Take a tour of the oldest house in Plymouth. Built in 1640, the Richard Sparrow House is now a popular gift shop selling American made crafts like pottery and jewelry. Open daily. 42 Summer St., Plymouth, 508-747-1240, sparrowhouse.com


8. The Pilgrims Slept Here

The Jabez Howland House is the only remaining house in Plymouth where the first Pilgrims actually lived. On display are pieces of 17th-century furniture, artifacts, letters and documents. Open daily from Memorial Day weekend through October 31. 33 Sandwich St., Plymouth, 508-746-9590, pilgrimjohnhowlandsociety.org/The_Jabez_Howland_House


9. Fire Engine

Take a gander at the 1828 fire engine at the 1749 Court House and Museum, America’s oldest wooden courthouse. You can also catch a glimpse of the old town hearse and a display of gifts from Plymouth’s sister city in Schigahama, Japan. Open daily from mid-June through mid-October. Town Square, Plymouth, 508-830-4075, facebook.com/1749CourtHouseMuseum


10. Final Resting Place

In 1778, 75 sailors aboard the General Arnold died in Plymouth Harbor during a winter storm. They are interred in Burial Hill Cemetery, which is the same place many Pilgrims are buried. Open daily. School St., Plymouth, 508-830-4078, plymouth-ma.gov/cemetery-and-crematory-management/pages/burial-hill-cemetery


11. Famous Foothold

It’s no surprise that Plymouth’s most famous attraction is Plymouth Rock. Housed beneath a granite portico at Pilgrim Memorial State Park, this is the stepping-off point for almost all tours of America’s Hometown. Open daily. Water St., Plymouth, 508-747-5360, mass.gov/locations/pilgrim-memorial-state-park


12. Hidden Gem

Centuries before the English arrived, Native Americans would place small branches or stones atop Sacrifice Rock as offerings in hopes of receiving safe passage. Owned by the Plymouth Antiquarian Society and situated within The Pinehills, there’s a small pocket park that makes it easier for visitors to pay their respects at this largely unknown site. Open daily. 394 Old Sandwich Road, Plymouth, 508-746-0012, plymouthantiquariansociety.org/historic.htm#sacrifice


13. Patriot Plot

Four African-American soldiers, including three former slaves, were gifted land near the Kingston border in an area known as Parting Ways. for their service in the Revolutionary War. Visit their graves at the Parting Ways Cemetery. Open daily. Plympton Road (Route 80), 508-830-4078, seeplymouth.com/things-to-do/parting-ways-cemetery


14. The Daily Grind

Situated along Town Brook, The Plimoth Grist Mill is a re-creation of the original water-powered grist mill built by the Pilgrims on the site in 1636. Visitors can watch the 200-year-old French Buhr millstones grind organic corn into cornmeal. Open daily mid-March through November. Summer St., Plymouth, 508-746-1622, plimoth.org/mill


15. 1620 Sanctuary

Visit the birthplace of religious and civic freedom in America. The First Parish Church is the oldest church congregation in the United States in continuous operation. Open daily. 19 Town Square, Plymouth, 508-747-1606, firstparishplymouth.org


16. Tomb with a View

The remains of the Pilgrims who died during their first years in the Plymouth settlement are contained within the Pilgrim Sarcophagus. The large stone coffin is perched atop Cole’s Hill, overlooking Plymouth Rock and the harbor. Open daily. Carver Street, Plymouth, 508-830-4078, seeplymouth.com/things-to-do/pilgrim-sarcophagus


17. The Great Sachem

Although inauthentically portrayed, the Massasoit Statue is dedicated to the leader of the Wampanoag tribe that befriended the Pilgrims in 1620. The iconic statue is located on Cole’s Hill, near the Pilgrim Sarcophagus. Open daily. Carver Street, Plymouth, 508-830-4078, seeplymouth.com/things-to-do/massasoit-statue


18. Remember the Ladies

Located in Brewster Gardens, the Pilgrim Maiden Statue honors the intrepid English women whose courage and devotion brought a new nation into being. Open daily. Water Street, Plymouth, 508-830-4078, seeplymouth.com/things-to-do/pilgrim-maiden-statue


19. Pillar of Greatness

High on a hilltop, the 81-foot-tall National Monument to the Forefathers is the tallest structure in Plymouth. The granite statue features several allegorical figures and is believed to have inspired the design for the Statue of Liberty. Open daily. Allerton Street, Plymouth, 617-626-1250, mass.gov/service-details/national-monument-to-the-forefathers-resource-management-plan


20. Hall of Flags

Get in a patriotic mood with a visit to Plymouth Memorial Hall’s Hall of Flags and American Legion Museum. Flags are hung inside the hallway that leads to the concert venue and display cases showcase memorabilia from various American wars. Call for appointment. 83 Court St., Plymouth, 508-685-5464, memorialhall.com/hall-of-flags.html


21. Never Forget

The events of Sept. 11, 2001 shook the whole country. Plymouth responded to the terrorist attack by creating a 9/11 Memorial to the fallen, including one of its own: Jennifer Kane. Open daily. 1 South Spooner St., Plymouth, 508-747-7525, seeplymouth.com/things-to-do/911-memorial


22. Living History

Learn how the Pilgrims and Native Americans lived in 1627 at Plimoth Plantation. Visit the recreated 17th-century English Village and Wampanoag Homesite. Open daily from late March through Thanksgiving. 137 Warren Avenue, Plymouth, 508-746-1622, plimoth.org


23. Creative Center

Local artists display their paintings, photography and fine craft work at the Plymouth Center for the Arts, housed in the restored 1902 Russell Library and the 18th century Lindens Building. Open daily. 11 North St., Plymouth, 508-746-7222, plymouthguild.org


24. New Beginnings

America is a nation of immigrants. The Plymouth Immigrant Memorial located in beautiful Brewster Gardens honors their contributions and sacrifices while building this country. Open daily. Water Street, Plymouth, 508-830-4081, seeplymouth.com/things-to-do/plymouth-immigrant-memorial


25. One Small Candle

William Bradford was the longtime governor of the Plymouth Colony and signatory of the Mayflower Compact. The William Bradford Statue is a stone’s throw from Plymouth Rock. Open daily. Water St., Plymouth, 508-747-7525, seeplymouth.com/things-to-do/william-bradford-statue

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