The monument and museum in Provincetown, Cape Cod, MA is literally a piece of history. Guests who choose to visit will be able to step back in time, learn more about the history of the area and the pilgrims who landed here, and get a bit of exercise in the process.
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Founded in the 1890s and currently Cape Cod’s oldest not for profit group, the monument was built in 1907 on the site that the pilgrims landed and where the Mayflower Compact was written and signed (way back in the 1600s). The museum opened slightly after that, in 1910, to teach visitors about the history. Millions of people have visited since it was built, over 100 years ago and it continues to be one of the top tourist spots in the area.
The Monument - The most obvious attraction at this site is the monument itself. Standing 252 feet high, it will take visitors roughly 10 minutes to climb to the top. It is currently the tallest structure in the US that is made entirely out of granite and was designed by Willard Sears, with over 100 stairs and 60 ramps. The inside has many stones that have been donated from cities and groups all over the country and the outside features the very first cornerstone laid when the monument was built, put there by none other but President Teddy Roosevelt himself! The view from the top is absolutely stunning. There is even a viewfinder at the top that visitors can use to look out across the water to where the Mayflower could have landed so many years ago. While at the top, visitors will be a whopping 350 feet above sea level!
The Museum - Outside of the monument is the museum. The permanent exhibits inside focus on the story of the Mayflower Pilgrims and their arrival, the history of the maritime industry in the area, how theater has had an impact locally, and more information on how the monument was built. Visitors can also walk through a sea captain’s home parlor and sea quarters from the 19th century, a diorama that shows the Mayflower Compact being signed and a model built to scale of the Provincetown Players’ first theater.
While inside the museum, visitors should also be sure to check out the artifacts that were brought back by Donald MacMillan, a Provincetown native who toured the Arctic with explorer Robert Peary. Among some of the most exciting are the musk ox, polar bear, and Inuit items. Provincetown’s first (built in the 1830s) fire engine, which was made by a man who apprenticed with Paul Revere himself, is also on display, as well as many artifacts from the original Wampanoag natives of the region (featuring arrowheads, tools/implements, and images). Rounding out the collection is a selection of photographs, furniture, postcards, carvings, holiday cards, and playbills that help visitors step back into time and see Provincetown as it was many years ago.
The grounds are available for rent for special events from May through October. Perfect for outdoor weddings, private and corporate events and even fundraising opportunities, the lawns and the views that come with them will stun guests. The lawn on the east side of the premises is slightly more secluded, with beautiful landscaping. Tents can be used, but only those that seat less than 100 people. The lawn on the west side is more open and allows for larger tents, if desired. Events can run from 9am to 11pm, lasting no more than three hours. Costs vary, so contact the facility for an estimate. There is also an option for smaller events with no more than 25 guests, held only on the East lawn. These events must be finished by no later than 5pm.
The Annual Lighting ceremony, held in November, celebrates the landing of the first pilgrims and is one of the most noteworthy events held here. With more than 3000 landing lights that will shine from November through the beginning of January, this event is free, with light refreshments and some entertainment.
While there is not much to purchase while at the monument and museum, visitors should make sure to check out the selection of apparel (hats and t-shirts in all sizes and a variety of colors), coffee mugs (with a charming reminder for visitors who climbed to the top) and a few other souvenirs (books, ornaments, cookie cutters, etc.). Every purchase helps support the site.
Pilgrim Monument Provincetown Museum, 1 High Pole Hill Road, Provincetown, MA, 02657, Phone: 508-487-1310