Did you know?
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.