History of Plymouth, Ma: Oldest Town in Massachusetts

Plymouth is the oldest town in Massachusetts and one of the oldest towns in America. It was originally inhabited by a tribe of Wampanoag Indians before being settled by English Puritan Separatists in the 17th century.

The following is a timeline of the history of Plymouth:

1580-1600:

  • It is estimated that Squanto is born sometime between 1580 and 1600 in the village of Patuxet in Plymouth, Mass.

1614:

  • In April, Squanto and 26 other Native-Americans are captured in Plymouth by Captain Thomas Hunt, a lieutenant for Captain John Smith who is on an expedition to New England, and taken to Spain to be sold as slaves.

1616-1619:

  • An epidemic breaks out among the Native American population in coastal New England and Patuxet Village in Plymouth is wiped out by the disease.

1619:

  • Squanto returns to Patuxet Village as an interpreter on Captain Dermer’s expedition and finds the village deserted with skeletons littering the ground. The expedition continues on to Maine.

1620:

  • In the summer, Squanto and his expedition are attacked by the Wampanoag in Martha’s Vineyard, Dermer and his crew are killed and Squanto is captured and is later transferred to the village of Pokanoket near Plymouth that fall where he remains a prisoner of the Wampanoag.
  • In December, the Mayflower ship arrives and anchors in Plymouth Harbor.
  • The Wampanoag watch the Mayflower pilgrims from a distance during the winter out of fear they are there to avenge Dermer’s death.
  • Cole’s Hill is established as the first burial ground in Plymouth. The Mayflower pilgrims who died during the first winter are buried here.

1621:

  • On March 16, local native Samoset befriends the Mayflower pilgrims and later introduces them to the rest of the tribe including sachem Massassoit as well as Squanto.
  • On April 1, Plymouth colonists form an alliance with the Wampanoag and sign the Pilgrim-Wampanoag treaty. Massasoit frees Squanto so he can serve as the pilgrim’s guide.
  • On April 5, the Mayflower departs Plymouth and returns to England.
  • Sometime between late September and early October, the First Thanksgiving takes place in Plymouth.
The seal of the Plymouth Colony, designed in 1629

1630:

  • On September 30, 1630, Plymouth colonist John Billington is hanged for murdering a fellow colonist John Newcomen. It is the first official execution in the North American colonies.

1636:

  • The Jenny Grist Mill is constructed by John Jenney on what is now Spring Lane.

1640:

  • The Samuel Lucas – Thomas Howland House, a Colonial-style house, is built on North Street.
  • The Richard Sparrow House, a First Period house, is built on Summer Street.

1657:

1666:

  • Old Sandwich Road is constructed.

1667:

  • The Jabez Howland House, a First Period house, is built on Sandwich Street.

1680:

  • The Joseph Churchill House, a First Period house, is built on Sandwich Street.

1681:

  • The Old Burial Hill is established on what is now School Street.

1684:

  • The Nathaniel Church House, a First Period house, is built on Summer Street.

1695:

  • The Clifford – Warren House, a Colonial-style house, is built on Clifford Road.

1700:

  • The Harlow Old Fort House, a Colonial-style house, is built on Sandwich Street.
  • The Thomas Dotey House, a Colonial-style house, is built on Sandwich Street.

1711:

  • The Plymouth Training Green is established on Sandwich Street.

1717:

  • The White Horse Cemetery is established on Cedar Road.

1729:

  • The Chiltonville Cemetery is established behind the Chiltonville Congregational Church on River Street.

1760:

  • The Sergeant William Harlow Family Homestead, a Colonial-style house, is built on Winter Street.

1768:

  • The Plymouth Light Station, a 20-foot-tall lighthouse, is constructed on Gurnet Point.
Plymouth Light, Gurnet Point, Plymouth, Mass

1790:

  • The population of Plymouth is 2,995.

1792:

  • A rye field is established on Old Sandwich Road.

1793:

  • The South Pond Cemetery is established on Cemetery Hill Road.

1800:

  • The population of Plymouth is 3,524.

1801:

  • On July 2, the Plymouth Light Station is destroyed in a fire and a temporary beacon is erected.

1803:

  • The Oak Grove and Vine Hill Cemeteries is established on Summer Street.
  • The Plymouth Light Station is rebuilt on Gurnet Point.
  • Bank House, a Federal-style commercial building, is constructed on Court Street and serves as a bank.
  • The Bartlett-Russell-Hedge House, a Federal-style house, is built on Court Street.

1806:

  • The Harlow Cemetery – Savery Cemetery is established on Old Sandwich Road.
  • The Manomet Cemetery is established on State Road.

1809:

  • The Plymouth Antiquarian House, a Federal-style house, is built on Court Street

1810:

  • The Plymouth Cotton Company Spinning Mill is constructed by owners William Davis, Nathaniel Russell, and William Spear on Billington Street.
  • The population of Plymouth is 4,228.

1812:

  • Hayden Mill Double Worker Housing, a Federal-style double house, is built on Sadnwich Road.

1818:

  • Old Indian Burying Ground is established on Bartlett Road. It contains the graves of settlers as well as Wampanoags who lived on a nearby reservation.
  • The Lucas Cemetery is established on Carver Road.

1820:

  • The Figure of Justice monument is erected on Court Street.
  • The Pilgrim Society is founded to celebrate the Pilgrim’s legacy.
  • The Plymouth County Court House, a Federal / Italaniate-style building, is constructed on Russell Street.
  • The population of Plymouth is 4,348.

1824:

  • Pilgrim Hall, a Greek Revival-style building is constructed on Court Street and serves as a museum for the Pilgrim Society. It was built on land originally granted to colonist Myles Standish, later owned by William Bradford before being sold to the Pilgrim Society in 1824.
Pilgrim Hall, Plymouth, Mass, circa 1860 – 1930

1825:

  • The Lower Herring Pond Cemetery is established on Herring Pond Road.
  • The Russell Mills Cemetery is established on Joardan Road.
  • The Congregation Beth Jacob Synagogue is built on Pleasant Street.

1826:

  • The Plymouth Universalist Church Parsonage, a Federal-style house, is built on Carver Street.
  • The Second Church of Plymouth, a Greek Revival-style building, is constructed on State Road.

1828:

  • The Douglas Burying Lot is established on Halfway Pond Road.

1830:

  • The Cedarville Schoolhouse is constructed on Long Pond Road.
  • Two Hayden Mill Double Worker Housing buildings, a Greek Revival-style house and a Federal-style house, are constructed on Sandwich Road.
  • The Eleazer Holmes Store, a Greek Revival / Italianate-style house, is built on Sandwich Road.
  • The Manomet Public School – Manomet Public Library, a Colonial Revival / Greek Revival-style building, is built on State Road.
  • The population of Plymouth is 4,758.

1831:

  • The Lakewood Cemetery is established on Long Pond Road.

1833:

  • The Cedarville Cemetery is established on Herring Pond Road.

1835:

  • The Bassett Cemetery is established on Herring Way.
  • Plymouth Masonic Lodge, a Colonial Revival-style building, is constructed on Court Street.

1838:

  • The King Cemetery is established on West Long Pond Road.

1840:

  • The Third Church of Plymouth, a Colonial Revival / Greek Revival-style building, is constructed on Town Square.
  • The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and Parsonage, an Italianate-style house, is built on Sever Street.
  • The population of Plymouth is 5,281.

1841:

  • The Chiltonville Congregational Church, a Greek Revival-style building, is constructed on River Street.

1843:

  • The Plymouth Light Station is rebuilt on Gurnet Point due to damage from exposure to the elements.
  • The South Pond Schoolhouse, a Greek Revival-style building, is constructed on Long Pond Road.

1845:

  • The Valler Cemetery is established on Hay Road.
  • Hillside, a Gothic Revival-style house, is built on Summer Street.

1847:

  • ‘The Jenny Grist Mill is destroyed in a fire.

1849:

  • The Indian Cemetery is established for the Herring Pond Reservation on Sandy Point Road.

1850:

  • Dunham Farm is established on Federal Furnace Road.
  • The Spring Street Bridge is built on Spring Street.
  • Spooks Pond Windmill is built on Victoria Avenue.
  • Multiple Plymouth Cordage Company Worker Housing row houses are constructed on Bourne Street, Court Street, Ropewalk Court and North Spooner Street.
  • The Pondville Baptist Church is built on Herring Pond Road.
  • Two Hayden Mill Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Sandwich Road.
  • The Plymouth Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a Greek Revival-style building, is constructed on Sever Street.
  • The population of Plymouth is 6,024.

1851:

  • The Redding Cemetery is established on Long Pond Road.

1852:

  • Union Hall, a Greek Revival-style building, is constructed on Main Street.

1855:

  • Two Rope Walk Mill Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Rowland Court.

1860:

  • The population of Plymouth is 6,272.

1863:

  • The Saint Joseph’s Cemetery is established on Summer Street.

1867:

  • The Plymouth Iron Foundry, a Colonial Revival / Italianate-style building, is constructed on Union Street.

1869:

  • The Plymouth Civil War Monument, a limestone 30-foot-tall column with an eagle statue on top, is erected on Sandwich Street.

1870:

  • Dr. J. B. Brewster House and Doctor’s Office, a Greek Revival-style construction building, is constructed on Court Street.
  • The Bartlett Garrity Funeral Home is built on Court Street.
  • The Union Chapel – South Pond Chapel, an Italianate-style building, is constructed on Long Pond Road.
  • The Colonial Restaurant is built on Main Street.
  • Multiple Plymouth – American Woolen Mills Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Murray Street.
  • The population of Plymouth is 6,238.

1871:

  • The Duxbury Pier Light is constructed on Duxbury Bay.

1874:

  • The Nightingale Cemetery is established on Lakewood Drive.
  • The Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, a Victorian Gothic-style building, is constructed on Court Street.

1880:

  • The Round Pond Cranberry Bog is established on Cornish Field Road.
  • Mabbett Woolen Mills Building is built on Howland Street.
  • The Chiltonville Fifth Congregational Church Parsonage, a Greek Revival-style building, is constructed on River Street.
  • The Bethel A. M. E. Church Sunday School is built on Sever Street.
  • The population of Plymouth is 7,093.

1884:

  • The Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, a Victorian Gothic-style building, is constructed on Court Street.
  • Plymouth County Jail, a Queen Anne-style building, is constructed on Russell Street.

1887:

  • The Plymouth Odd Fellows Block, a Classical Revival-style building, is constructed on Main Street.

1888:

  • The R. Sampson Cranberry Bog Complex is established on Long Pond Road.
  • Long Pond Chapel – Church in the Wildwood is constructed on Halfway Pond Road.

1889:

  • The National Monument to the Forefathers, a granite monument dedicated to the Mayflower pilgrims, is erected on Allerton Street.
Monument to the Forefathers, Plymouth, Mass circa 1900
  • The Nathaniel Morton Park, a 400-acre park, is established on Summer Street.

1890:

  • The Fred J. Mahler House and Market is built on Court Street and serves as a grocery store.
  • The Plymouth Cordage Company Worker Housing building is constructed on Ropewalk Court.
  • The Plymouth – American Woolen Mills Worker Housing building is constructed on Sawyer Place.
  • Arthur’s Restaurant is built on Court Street.
  • The Guy Cooper General Store, a Colonial Revival-style building, is constructed on Sandwich Street.
  • The population of Plymouth is 7,314.

1892:

  • The Standish Avenue Bridge over Old Colony Railroad, an iron and steel bridge, is built on Standish Avenue.
  • Gurnet United States Life Saving Station, a Shingle-style building, is constructed on Herbert Street.
  • Plymouth High School, a Colonial Revival-style building, is constructed on Lincoln Street.

1894:

  • Camp Sunnyside is established on Mast Road.

1895:

  • The Cold Spring School, a Neo Classical Revival-style building, is constructed on Court Street.
  • The Plymouth Central Fire Station, a Classical Revival-style building, is constructed on Main Street.

1898:

  • The Knapp Public School, a Colonial Revival-style building, is constructed on Court Street.

1899:

  • The Forges – Eel River Bridge, a granite arch bridge, is built on Old Sandwich Road.
  • The First Parish Church of Plymouth, a Romanesque Revival-style, is constructed on Town Square.
  • Two Plymouth Cordage Company Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Cherry Street.

1900:

  • The Billington Street Cranberry Bog is established on Billington Street.
  • The Robert B. Symington Cranberry Bog is established on Old Sandwich Road.
  • The Priscilla Hotel is built on Court Street.
  • Multiple Plymouth Cordage Company Worker Housing row houses are constructed on Forest Ave, South Spooner Street and Hedge Road.

The Puritan Clothing Company building is built on Main Street.

  • The Plymouth Fire Station No. 2, a Colonial Revival-style building, is constructed on South Street.
  • The Bradford and Kyle Mill is constructed on Spring Lane.
  • Multiple Plymouth – American Woolen Mills Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Water Street.
  • The population of Plymouth is 9,592.

1902:

  • The Morton Park Road Bridge over Town Brook, a stone bridge, is built on Morton Park Road.
  • The Plymouth Public Library – Russell Library, a Classical Revival-style building, is constructed on North Street.
  • The Oak Street Primary School, a Colonial Revival-style building, is constructed on Oak Street.

1903:

  • The LeBaron A. Barker Cranberry Bog is established on Mast Road.
  • The Rocky Hill Road Cranberry Bog is established on Rocky Hill Road.
  • The Charles A. Stone Blacksmith Shop is built on Gate Road.
  • The President Cleveland Grover Hunting Lodge is built on Gunning Point Road.
  • More Plymouth Cordage Company Double Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Holmes Terrace, Standish Ave and Puritan Court.
  • More Plymouth – American Woolen Mills Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Murray Street, Water Street and Sawyer Place.

1904:

  • The Plymouth Registry of Deeds, a Classical Revival-style building, is constructed on Russell Street.

1905:

  • The Plymouth German Lutheran Church, a Victorian Eclectic-style building, is constructed on Court Street.
  • Mount Pleasant School, a Classical Revival-style building, is constructed on Whiting Street.

1906:

  • The Armory of the Standish Guards, an English Revival-style building, is constructed on Court Street.
  • More Plymouth – American Woolen Mills Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Murray Street and Shaw Court.

1908:

  • The Main Street Bridge over Town Brook is built on Main Street.
  • Camp Kimball is established on Morgan Road.
  • The Plymouth County House of Correction, a Renaissance Revival-style building, is constructed on Obery Street.

1909:

  • The North Plymouth Theater, a Colonial Revival-style building, is constructed on Court Street.

1910:

  • The Water Street Seawall is established on Water Street.
  • More Plymouth Cordage Company Double Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Court Street, Spooner Street and North Plymouth Square.
  • The Plymouth County Sheriff’s House is constructed on Obery Street.
  • The Hedge Elementary School, a Classical Revival-style building, is constructed on Standish Ave.
  • The population of Plymouth is 12,141.

1911:

  • The Plymouth Country Club Golf Course is established on Country Club Drive.

1912:

  • Multiple Plymouth Cordage Company Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Cordage Terrace.

1913:

  • The Nathaniel Morton Elementary School, a Colonial Revival-style building, is constructed on Lincoln Street.

1914:

  • The Plymouth Post Office Building, a Colonial Revival-style building, is constructed on Main Street extension.
  • The Collinwood Post 7 – G. A. R. Hall, a Classical Revival-style building, is constructed on Middle Street.

1915:

  • More Plymouth Cordage Company Double Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Court Street and Forest Ave extension.
  • The Ferdinand Morning Theater – Old Colony Theater is built on Main Street.
  • Jordan Hospital, a Colonial Revival-style building, is constructed on Sandwich Street.

1916:

  • TK’s Eating and Drinking Saloon is constructed on Main Street Extension.

1917:

  • Pinewoods Camp is established on Cornish Field Road.
  • Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, a Colonial Revival / Victorian Gothic-style building, is constructed on Court Street.

1919:

  • The Plymouth Antiquarian House is moved from Court Street to Water Street where it opens as a historic house museum for the Antiquarian Society.

1920:

  • The Howland Davis Water Tower is erected on Long Pond Road.
  • The Richard Morgan Estate Outdoor Theater is built on Morgan Road.
  • The Plymouth State Park is established on Water Street.
  • Multiple Plymouth Cordage Company Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Cherry Street.
  • More Plymouth Cordage Company Double Worker Housing buildings are constructed on Court Street, Seaview Street and Park Road.
  • The population of Plymouth is 13,045.

1921:

  • The Massasoit Statue, a bronze statue of Wampanoag sachem Massassoit, is erected at Cole Hill on Carver Street.
Statue to Massasoit, Plymouth, Mass circa 1921 1930
  • The Pilgrim Mother Fountain and Statue, a granite statue of a Puritan woman, is erected on Water Street.
  • The Cole’s Hill Sarcophagus is constructed on Carver Street to house the bones of the pilgrims who died during the first winter in Plymouth.
  • The Brewster Gardens – Brewster Park is built on Water Street.

1924:

  • The Pilgrim Maiden Statue, a bronze statue, is erected on Water Street.
  • Plymouth Memorial Hall, a Colonial Revival-style building, is constructed on Court Street.
  • Saint Catherine’s Chapel is constructed on White Horse Road.

1925:

  • The Newfield Street Bridge is constructed on Newfield Street.

1928:

  • The Life-Saving Monument is erected on Manomet Point Road.

1930:

  • The Water Street Bridge is established on Water Street.
  • The population of Plymouth is 13,042.

1935:

  • The Symington – Talcott Stone Arch Bridge is built on Old Sandwich Road.
  • Stephens Park is established on Sandwich Street.

1937:

  • The Cedarville Cranberry Bog is established on Herring Pond Road.

1940:

  • The Holmes Playground is constructed on Newfield Street.
  • The population of Plymouth is 13,100.

1943:

  • The Gurnet Point Observation Station, a reinforced concrete tower, is constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer on Gurnet Point as part of the Boston Harbor Defense System.

1948:

  • The Route 3 Bridge over Route 44, a reinforced concrete bridge, is built on Route 3.

1950:

  • The Market Street Bridge is constructed on Market Street.
  • The Plymouth Park Department Office is built on Sandwich Street.
  • The population of Plymouth is 13,608.

1955:

  • The Ship Pond Road Bridge over Route 3 is built on Ship Pond Road.

1956:

  • The Route 3 Bridge over Herring Pond Road and the Route 3 Bridge over Hedges Pond Road are built on Route 3.

1957:

  • The Mayflower II, a replica of the original Mayflower ship, docks at the State Pier.
  • The New England Telephone and Telegraph Company building, a Postwar Traditional Building, is constructed on Court Street.

1959:

  • The Faunce Memorial Burial Park is erected on Halway Pond Road.

1960:

  • Samoset Square is built on South Park Ave.
  • The population of Plymouth is 14,445.

1965:

  • The Governor Bradford Inn is built on Water Street overlooking the harbor and Pilgrim Memorial State Park. The inn is built on land that is part of the original land granted to Governor William Bradford.

1967:

  • Plymouth Police Station and Jail is built on South Russell Street.

1968:

  • The Jenny Grist Mill Museum, a reproduction of the original Jenny Grist Mill, is built on the site of the original grist mill on Spring Lane.

1970:

  • The population of Plymouth is 18,606.

1976:

  • The Governor William Bradford monument, a bronze statue of Governor Bradford with a granite base, is erected on Water Street.

1977:

  • The Plymouth Fire Station is built on Sandwich Street.

1980:

  • The population of Plymouth is 35,913.

1983:

  • Enisketomp, a 36-foot-tall wooden sculpture of a Native American, is erected on Long Pond Road as a tribute the Native Americans of Massachusetts.

1986:

  • The Plymouth County Sheriff Office is constructed on Obery Street.

1990:

  • The population of Plymouth is 45,608.

2000:

  • The population of Plymouth is 51,701.

2010:

  • The population of Plymouth is 56,468.

202:

  • The population of Plymouth is 61,217.

Sources:
Tucker, Aimee. “The Plimoth Grist Mill | Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA.” NewEngland.com, 16 Oct. 2018, newengland.com/travel/massachusetts/plimoth-grist-mill/
MACRIS, Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System, mhc-macris.net

About Rebecca Beatrice Brooks

Rebecca Beatrice Brooks is the author and publisher of Historic Sites USA. Rebecca is a freelance journalist and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in New England after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism.

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