The Sandwich Glass Museum: A History of Glass Making on Cape Cod

Sandwich Glass Museum

A small town on Cape Cod, located just 50 miles from Boston, rich in fuel and having easy access to major waterways for the shipment of goods and supplies, Sandwich, Massachusetts seemed the perfect spot for a glass factory, or so thought Deming Jarvis when he started the Boston and Sandwich Glass Factory there in 1825. Along with the land for the factory, he bought 20,000 acres of forest to fuel the furnaces. Ironically, one thing Sandwich didn’t have to offer Deming was the fine sand required for glass making. This he imported from New Jersey and Western Massachusetts.

At the height of its success, approximately 1830-1860, the factory employed around 500 men, and produced over 6,000 tons of glass daily. Known as one of the better glass houses, the Boston and Sandwich Glass Factory produced tumblers, whale oil lamps, cruets, glass hats, jugs and bottles among other items, using free-blown, hand-cut, and mold pressed techniques. After the Civil War, however, glassmaking became more competitive, and the company struggled to compete. The furnaces that fired the now famous Sandwich glass were finally extinguished in January of 1888.

The Sandwich Glass Museum, under the auspices of the Sandwich Historical Society, celebrates the rich history of Sandwich and its intimate link to the production of American-made glass. Located at the corner of Route 130 and Tupper Road and across from the Town Hall at 129 Main Street, the Museum houses an extensive collection of original Sandwich glass, a theater offering a multi-media presentation of what life was like in rural New England during the Industrial Revolution, and a glass furnace where visitors can watch molten glass blown and pressed into exquisite pieces of art. In addition, the Museum Shop offers an array of unique items for sale, including reproductions of original Sandwich glass designs, and contemporary art glass.

The Museum is open daily from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM from April through December. Abbreviated hours are offered in February and March. On Wednesdays throughout the summer and Saturdays in the fall, the Museum sponsors a walking tour through the village of Sandwich that highlights the town’s historic architecture from the colonial period to the early 20th century. We highly recommend a visit to this incredible tribute to the history of glassmaking in America. It’s just down the street from our Inn in West Barnstable, MA and the perfect outing for day on Cape Cod, rain or shine.