Historic Center

jonathan-bourne-bldg2Jonathan Bourne Historical Center

30 Keene Street
Bourne, MA 02532
Phone: 508-759-8167
Open: Mondays and Tuesdays from 9:00am to 2:30pm,
2nd & 4th Wednesdays from 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

The Jonathan Bourne Historical Center was built in 1897 by Emily Howland Bourne as a town library and as a memorial to her father, Jonathan Bourne for whom the town was named. She chose this location as his birthplace could be seen on the northeast side of the Manomet River; the house was destroyed during the digging of the canal in 1913. Jonathan was one of 10 children and at the age of 17 left home for New Bedford. He prospered and became the town’s most successful owner of whaling ships. In 1884 he was a state legislator, and when the western half of Sandwich petitioned the Commonwealth for separation as a town, he was helpful on their behalf. The leaders showed their appreciation by naming the new town in his honor. Thus in 1884 the newest town on Cape Cod came from the oldest town, Sandwich. Jonathan’s ancestor was the Rev. Richard Bourne, the first preacher to the Indians.

The Jonathan Bourne Historical Center is a notable example of the skill of the Boston architect Henry Vaughn. The 1897 structure originally served as the Bourne Town Library and overlooks the Cape Cod Canal. It is a fine example of American Colonial English Renaissance) style featuring yellow tapestry brick and red slate roof construction along with large Palladian windows. A handsome stained glass window depicting “St. Michael and the Dragon” by Clayton & Bell of London, England graces the reading room.

The Bourne Historical Society and two town committees, the Bourne Historical Commission and the Bourne Archives are housed in the Jonathan Bourne Historical Center.

The Bourne Archives houses town records, family collections, photographs, slides, books, maps, oral histories, and other documentary resources. These are available to any visitors interested in researching the history of Bourne, its buildings, and its families. It also gives a tantalizing picture of life in the earlier days of Bourne for anyone who just wants to browse through the various collections. In addition, visitors are always welcome during the above hours, or by appointment, to come have a tour of this outstanding building.

The Bourne Historical Commission is responsible for historic preservation planning for the entire town, as well as for identifying local historic resources, advising the town on historic preservation matters, and preparing the survey of historic places for the Massachusetts Historical Commission. This group also has published a series of histories of some of the villages of Bourne and a pictorial history album.


The Bourne Historical Society was incorporated as a non-profit organization on December 29, 1921 for the purpose of acquiring the site of the first trade house built in 1627 by Plymouth Colony, located on the south bank of the Manomet (Monument) River which is now part of the Cape Cod Canal. The Pilgrims traded with the Indians and the Dutch from New Amsterdam (New York City), thus having a source of income by which their debt to the London backers of their expedition to the New World could be repaid. The Bourne Historical Society’s Mission Statement is “As a bridge from the past to the future, the Bourne Historical Society is committed to preserve, protect, present and promote the history of Bourne.” The Society’s office is on the ground floor, as well as their large collection of artifacts pertaining to the history of Bourne and southeastern Massachusetts. These are used in the exhibits in the museum rooms on the main floor as well as at the Aptucxet Trading Post Museum Complex on Aptucxet Road, Bourne Village.

The Bourne Society for Historic Preservation owner of the Briggs-McDermott House on Sandwich Road, Bourne Village, uses the Center for permanent record storage.


From the Bourne Bridge – Trowbridge Road (1st right at foot of bridge), right onto Vertern’s Way (just after Police Station), left onto Sandwich Road, right onto Keene Street, the Historical Center is the large yellow brick building set back from the road.

From Sagamore Bridge- first right at foot of bridge, left at light on to Sandwich Road, just after Gallo Skating Rink bear right under the Bourne Bridge, right onto Keene Street, the Historical Center is the large yellow brick buiding set back from the road.