Sandwich was named for the seaport of Sandwich, Kent, England by European settlers from Saugus in 1637. Two years later, the town was incorporated in 1639, making it the oldest town on Cape Cod. Originally, Sandwich included the town of Bourne, which was separated and so named in 1884. Sandwich’s marshes were appealing to early settlers, as they provided salt hay for livestock without cultivation. The area also had cultural appeal, as the land belonged to Plymouth Colony, whose Pilgrims were more liberal than the religiously stringent Puritans who settled the Massachusetts Bay Colony around what is now Boston and Salem.
Sandwich has a total area of 44.2 square miles, 3.32 percent of which is water. The town is situated in the Upper Cape area and encompasses the Cape Cod Bay entrance to the Cape Cod Canal. The Shawme-Crowell State Forest is located in Sandwich and covers 740 acres of land. Old Harbor Creek, which is fed by a number of smaller creeks and once served as a harbor for ships, is located inland from Sandwich Harbor. Sandwich’s northern tip is separated from the rest of the town by the canal and is home to Sagamore Hill and Scusset Beach State Reservation.
At over 375 years of age, Sandwich enjoys the reputation of being Cape Cod’s oldest town. Historic homes and structures, like the Benjamin Nye Homestead and Dexter’s Grist Mill, dot the landscape. Besides historic charm, Sandwich features natural seaside beauty and an ideal location near the Cape’s entrance. The town offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the scenery: walking and biking trails, beautiful seashores, salt water estuaries, fresh water ponds, bird sanctuaries and more.
The Sandwich public school system includes Forestdale School and Oak Ridge School. Sandwich High School serves students in grades nine through 12. Upper Cape Cod Technical High School in Bourne serves students pursuing vocational- technical studies. Alternative education options are provided by Sturgis Charter School in Hyannis as well private schools in neighboring towns on the Cape, as well as off-Cape schools, such as Tabor Academy and Sacred Heart High School.
Sandwich has a rich history and this is reflected by the town’s cultural attractions. Heritage Museums and Gardens is a public garden and museum featuring a collection of classic American cars, folk art, a functional 1919 carousel, and a renowned collection of flowers, namely rhododendrons. The Thornton Burgess Museum celebrates the children’s author. The Hoxie House is the oldest house on Cape Cod and one of the oldest in the state, built in the mid-1600s. Studios along Route 6A in Sandwich continue the town’s tradition of glassblowing as well as producing other forms of local artwork.