History of Ship's Light

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Ship’s Light, corner of Cross and Shattuck Place, Chatham, MA
2009 Chatham Preservation Award

This Sea Captain's historic home, Ship's Light, was named by Mrs. Lillian Spohn, its owner between 1945 and 1972, when she divided it and rented it as housekeeping apartments for summer visitors. George and Azuba (Howes) Smith built and lived in the house between 1828 and 1834 on four acres across the road from her parent's home. They sold the house to the Ryder family who owned an abutting acreage between the house and Mill Pond. Elisha sold this farm of 13 acres to his son Gilman.

Captain Prince Harding was the sea captain who bought the house and thirteen acres from Gilman Ryder in 1854. Captain Harding and his wife Susan T. Higgins sailed together and were seldom at home in Chatham. Captain Harding's sister, Elizabeth G. Harding, and her husband David Mayo actually lived in the house while the seagoing Hardings were away. In 1867, Prince Harding sold part of the land to Thankful Stetson reserving the original 4 acres for himself. In 1876, Susan Harding sold the homestead and property to Love Maloney who lived in the house for six years until she sold it to Mary Elizabeth and Benjamin Gifford in 1882. Dr. Gifford had become Chatham's only doctor in 1871.

Dr. Gifford in front of Ship's Light (circa 1882)

Dr. Benjamin Gifford and his daughter Dr. Minnie Gifford Buck, dentist, and his grand-daughter Josephine Buck Ivanoff, educator, were among Chatham's leading citizens until 1992. Together they gave 110 years of leadership and service to Chatham from the corner of Cross Street and Shattuck Place.

Ship's Light has looked down Cross Street to the Village Center for over 180 years. A Ship's Light vacation allows you to explore the town and Oyster Pond on foot, and enjoy Chatham's favorite walking tour of "the loop" down Stage Harbor Road and back on Cedar Street. Leave your cares behind and enjoy Chatham's historic treasures.


Bill and Roz Coleman, Owners

600 Orleans Road
North Chatham, MA 02650
e-mail: ChathamShipslight@comcast.net

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