What You Need To Know About The Falmouth Museums on the Green

Just past Main Street in Falmouth is an old pale yellow house. It’s easy not to notice, there are a lot of old houses in that area of Falmouth and on Cape Cod in general, but this one is special.

The house was built in 1790 for Doctor Francis Wicks and his family, and while the world around the Wicks house has changed immeasurably in the last 237 years, the same can certainly not be said for within the four walls of the historic home.

Step inside and be greeted by a friendly woman in period dress and she’ll show you the 18th century furniture, explain to you why there is a wash basin by the fire place, why the bed requires regular tightening (that’s where “sleep tight” comes from by the way), why the stairs are so narrow, and why there’s a loaded shotgun in her kitchen. She can teach you how to create butter or soap, how to make a candle or salt a fish to preserve for later.

Outside, a man is likewise dressed as if it’s the late 1700’s he shows off his garden, tells how some plants keep away bugs, some are used in paint, or for cooking, and others in medicines. He has a collection of tools as well, some recognizable and some not so.

He’ll show you some of the tools Doctor Wicks would have used in his medical practice, primitive, almost barbaric looking things; he explains that a doctor of that era was as likely to be the cause of your untimely death as he would be to extend your life. He tells you the surprising, but completely true, story of how Dr. Wicks earned his fortune in the first place, not through medicine, but rather in his first career as a privateer (which, as it turns out, is just a nice way of saying that the guy was a pirate).

The house is one of several properties on the Falmouth Village Green operated by the town’s Historical society, the properties contain a treasure trove of stories and artifacts that tell the history of the town of Falmouth and of life on cape hundreds of years ago. The museums overlook the Village Green where members of the Colonial militia practiced in the 1700’s and sea captains built their homes. The two 18th-century houses display period furniture, fine art, textiles and rotating exhibits that provide a glimpse into the town’s rich historic past.

In addition to the Wicks house, there is the 1730 Conant House, which currently houses the offices of the Historical Society as well as some of their rotating exhibitions and artifacts. Restored and remodeled in 2016, it contains the research library and archives as well as an exhibit and timeline of Falmouth’s past.

The Falmouth Garden Club building includes three meticulously maintained gardens on the Museum grounds — a Colonial-style flower garden, an herb garden and a Memorial Park. Visitors are welcome to picnic in the gazebo or stroll the gardens during daylight hours year-round.

The Museum Visitor Center is located in the rustic Hallett Barn, which is wheelchair-accessible. Tour tickets are available there; guests are welcome to stop by and pick up activities which introduce the town and the museums, illustrating the connection between the past and the present.

The most recent addition to the property came in 2012 with the construction of the spacious Cultural Center. The facility includes meeting spaces, bathrooms and a kitchen and is used for Falmouth Historical Society events, or is rented out to the public for conferences, business meetings, lectures, and retreats.

The historical society itself was founded more than a century ago had has relied on fundraising and donations to amass their impressive portfolio. Additionally, they maintain an extensive and growing archival collection of letters, journals, photographs, genealogies, oral history tapes and videos, business records. Volunteers with the group offer five dollar tours to the public, a service they provide at no cost for all of students making their way through elementary school in town.

The Falmouth Historical Society’s Museums on the Green is open Monday through Friday, from 10 AM to 3 PM and on Saturdays from 10 AM until 1 PM, with the research library open with appointment.

By CapeCod.com Staff

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