The society was incorporated as a non-profit organization 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 Natives 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.
To stimulate interest, a historical exhibition was held and donations were received, enabling the Society to purchase the lot of land on which two cellar holes were located, marking the site of the trade house. In 1926, President Percival Lombard and Vice President Nathan Bourne Hartford uncovered the complete foundations and many interesting relics. Additional lots were purchased, bringing the total to about 12 acres. The structure existing today is a replica erected on the original foundation.
With the signing of the first private commercial contract in English-speaking North America, Aptucxet became the first private commercial enterprise using a local currency known as wampum, and launched what is now the world’s leading economic force: the American Free Enterprise System.
Wampum is a polished fragment of a hard-shell clam usually containing a purple color, and shaped in a cylindrical form. The local Native Americans called these clams quahogs (pronounced kwo-hogs), and making the wampum required a great amount of effort and skill.
The Jonathan Bourne Historic Center is now open to the public by appointment. Please call (508) 759-8167 or email BourneHistoricalSociety@comcast.net prior to arrival.
Aptucxet Trading Post Museum Complex is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 10am - 4pm Memorial Day Weekend through Columbus Day Weekend.
Special rates are available for students and pre-arranged group tours 508-759-9487. We have a turnaround for buses to drop visitors off at the Trading Post, with a parking area near the Trading Post Gift Shop.