The Mashpee Historic District [†] is the traditional center of the Town of Mashpee, remarkable for its unique history, in which the culture and heritage of the Native American Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and European settlers have forged a vibrant and deeply connected community for several hundred years. The area, at the south end of Mashpee Pond and convenient to the spring herring run in the Mashpee River, but sheltered from cold winter winds, had been the site of the Mashpee Wampanoag's main traditional winter village, while in summer families moved to temporary homes closer to the shellfish resources of Popponesset and Waquoit Bays. The Mashpee Historic District, located around the intersection of Main Street (State Route 130) and Great Neck Road North in the northern section of town, now includes a mixture of modest 19th and 20th century buildings, sites of important former buildings, the herring run and natural open space in a semi-rural landscape. Together these irreplaceable resources represent the town's evolution from a 17th century Indian Plantation, to to a District still reserved for Indians, and finally to a Town in 1870 in which all residents had citizenship. A historic map of 1910 by the Walker Publishing & Lithograph Co. records how turn of the century development concentrated in north Mashpee, with a few houses scattered around Popponesset Bay. Coastal tourism began about 1917, but differed from other Cape Cod towns in that few businesses were owned by Mashpee residents. Mashpee's traditional town center, located inland, grew into a loose collection of public, commercial, residential, and institutional buildings by the middle of the 19th century and continued to develop at a modest rate throughout the 20th century. Today the district captures the essence of Mashpee's heritage despite new development along Main Street.
The Mashpee Historic District rural town center arrangement is atypical of the more common densely settled Cape Cod or New England town center that often has buildings organized along a main street commercial area or around a town common. The spine of the district is the T- shaped intersection of Route130 / Main Street and Great Neck Road North, which serve as the east-west, and north-south connectors of the town. Both are two-lanes with berm edges and few sidewalks. Green space, including sites of former historic buildings, is a significant historic and visual characteristic of the setting of the district and is expressed in the spaciousness between buildings and the designated open space lands woven throughout the district and along its edges. Distinctive green areas along Main Street include the natural and cranberry bog wetland landscapes of the Bessie Bog and Noisy Hole (Als Property) Conservation Areas and the Mills bogs on the Mashpee River, as well as the woodlands of Attaquin Park and the State's Fisherman's Landing. The Herring Run and Mill Pond on the Mashpee River has a concrete fish run and several ripple falls at the site of an 18th and 19th century grist mill, which flows from Mashpee Pond and crosses under Main Street. At the principal intersection, the carefully laid out Community Park and Veterans Garden, also known as the "Collins Lot", introduces a formal landscape design quality to the district.
† Mashpee Historic District Commission, Mashpee Historic District Manual, 2008, www.mashpeema.gov, accessed August, 2023.<[?