Researching Your House History

There are hundreds of historic houses in Sandwich. The Historical Commission is currently working on updating histories of these homes for the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS). Many of these histories haven’t been updated since the 1970s.

If you’d like to research the history of your own home and at the same time help with the MACRIS Project, here’s how to get started:

1. Take a look at a few of the house histories we’ve updated.

(NOTE: This will download PDF files. These may not load correctly if you are using the IE browser.)


166 MAIN STREET/ .230

This will give you an idea of what MACRIS “Form B” is all about.

2. Become familiar with the MACRIS website:

The Massachusetts Historic Commission (MHC) hosts a database known as the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS).
View this short video (produced by the West Tisbury Historical Commission) to learn how to access MACRIS.


Go to the Sandwich database on MACRIS and find the Form B for your house.

3. Visit the Town’s mapping website.

You will be using this site to obtain information for MACRIS Form B (parcel IDs, land area, year built and maps).

There is a Quick Search box at the upper right.
–Enter house # and street name (ie. 166 Main St)
–A map will appear with property outlined in red
–On the right you will see Parcel ID Number (ie. 73-116).
–Enter this in the Assessor’s Number box on Form B
–You will also find links to Assessor Property Record Cards to help research built date, design, etc.
–Zoom out on the map so you can see the property (outlined in red) and environs (including local street names if possible).
–Using a snipping tool (COMMAND-SHIFT-4 on Macs)  select a box apx. 300 x 350 pixels.
–Save as a jpg and paste into Form B “Locus Map” box.

4. Visit the Sandwich Town Archives.

(Check with Archivist Deborah Rich for updated info. The following was complied several years ago –Don) 

The Archives are located in the McKnight Room in the back of the Library and open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:30 to 12: 30, and 1:30 to 4:30.

Here you will find:

a) Historical Commission Asset Files: This is a good place to start your house history search. There is a folder for each house containing information that has been collected over the years. Ask us or Archivist Barbara Gill for the Historical Commission’s Asset Number for your house. There is also a zoning map in the Archives where you can look up your property and get the Asset Number. The actual folders are in file cabinets along the back (west) wall in numerical order.

b) Photos: There is a Photo Index in four notebooks located above the file cabinets along the west wall. The actual photos are in archival storage boxes on shelves along the east wall

c) Maps: The two best ones are:

–The 1858 Walling Sandwich Village Map w/ Business Directory

It is also available on our website: 1858 Walling Map

–Walker’s 1880 Atlas of Barnstable County, Massachusetts

There a reproduction of this map in a book in the Archives

–Other maps can be found here:

d) “Manuscript Collection:” These are in folders in two 3-drawer file cabinets. Here you will find pamphlets, reports, and newspaper clippings organized by Subject, Institutions and Families. In the Family files are deeds, correspondence and other documents which date from the 17th through 19th centuries.

A complete Index is available. Ask Deborah for the Sandwich Finding Aids notebook. The Index is labeled: “Sandwich Public Library Cabinet List.”

Subject Files and Family Files are located in A-Z folders in the legal-size file cabinets along the west wall

e) Tax Records of the Office of the Assessor: 1783-1860 and 1903-1945 (incomplete). These can often be a great help in researching who owned a home and when. But, as noted, these are incomplete.

A complete Index is in the Sandwich Finding Aids notebook. The Index is labeled: “Town Archives-Assesors Books.”

Items: 1783 – 1860 are located along west wall; 1903 – 1945 are in Library storage downstairs.

f) Census on microfilm: Head of Household only: 1820, 1830, 1840 All family members:1850, 1855, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910 (newer are online)

Index in 3×5 file cabinets, west wall and in notebooks above cabinets
Actual Items: microfilm cabinets
NOTE: several US Census reports, Massachusetts Marriages, 1633-1850, etc. are available on-line via

g) Obits: these are photocopies of newspaper obits and articles; they begin in the 1890s. There is no Index. the actual items are in A-Z notebooks, west wall

h) Cemetery Records: Gravestone name index to 1985. You will find these in 3×5 file cabinets, west wall

i) Other items on microfilm: Genealogical Notes Of Cape Cod Families, Sandwich Quaker Records. Index: 3×5 file cabinets, west wall

j) Books: There are several copies of local historian Russell Lovell’s book, Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town in the Archives. This is a great resource. You may find additional information about the early inhabitants of your home here as well as bits of history that may have taken place in your neighborhood, even on your street.
Other worthwhile books include:

Barlow, Raymond E. & Kaiser, Joan E., The Glass Industry in Sandwich, Vol. 1-5. Windham, NH: Kaiser Publishing Company, Inc., 1989-1993.
Cullity, Rosanna & Cullity, John Nye, A Sandwich Album, Sandwich, MA: The Nye Family of America Association, Inc., 1987.
Lovell, R. A. Jr., Sandwich, A Cape Cod Town. Taunton, MA: Town of Sandwich Massachusetts Archives and Historical Center, 1996.
Vuilleumier, Marion R., Scenes of America Sandwich Cape Cod’s Oldest Town. Portsmouth, NH: Arcadia Publishing, 2006.

Complete General Index of Sandwich Massachusetts Archives, June 2011:

(PDF Download)

5. Other Sources

Area churches have archives. Here’s a list:

a) First Church of Christ, United Church of Christ:
Historical records, 1730-1975
Access: by permission of church staff, 508-888-0434.

Church Records included:
Calvinistic Congregational Society, the Pilgrim Church, the Sandwich Federated Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Congregational Church, the Unitarian Congregation, First Parish Church, and the First Church of Christ.

Records of baptisms, weddings, funerals; Sandwich Federated Church, 1944-1969

[Alpha index of church members], 1886-1970s; compiled by Barbara Gill

Church record, Methodist Episcopal Church, 1796-1874; history of church, membership, marriage, baptismal records

First Church Records, 1640-1954 ; marriage baptisms, membership, list of pastors

A complete Index is in the Sandwich Finding Aids notebook. The Index is labeled “First Church records.”

b) Corpus Christi Parish:
Historical records, 1845- date. Access: by permission of the parish staff, 508-888-0209.

Collection consists of 31 volumes of records of marriages, deaths, baptisms, confirmations and First Communions, from 1845 on. Also includes an incomplete cemetery register and copy of a cemetery book from 1890

A complete Index is in the Sandwich Finding Aids notebook. The Index is labeled
“Corpus Christi Parish.”

c) St. John’s Episcopal Church:

Historical records, 1854-1968. Access: by permission of church staff, 508-888-2828.
File Cabinet

Annual meeting records, and records of membership, marriage, baptisms and deaths. Also includes correspondence, receipts and deeds pertaining to the building and its construction in 1899.

A complete Index is in the Sandwich Finding Aids notebook. The Index is labeled
“St Johns Episcopal Church.”


6. How to Enter Your House History on MACRIS Form B

If you are not totally exhausted by now (!) and still want to proceed, here’s how:

Ask us for a Form B Template for your Area. Page 1 of the form looks like this. Scroll down and follow the red numbers step-by-step.


1. Assesors’s Number: This is the Parcel ID. Obtain from the Town Assessor’s Website:
Enter Street name then House Number, Click Property Search. Map ID and Parcel ID will appear. On the above example, 73 is the Map ID, 116 is the Parcel ID.  (Don’t close the window for this website; we will be using it again later.)

2. USGS Quad: This is always going to be “Sandwich”

3. Area: MACRIS has divided the town into the following areas:

SDW.A Sandwich Center Village Sandwich
SDW.B Sandwich Center – East Sandwich
SDW.C Jarvesville Sandwich
SDW.D Main Street – Charles Street Area Sandwich
SDW.E Route 6A – Sandwich Village Bypass Area Sandwich
SDW.F Shawme Road Area Sandwich
SDW.G Route 6A – West Area Sandwich
SDW.H Town Neck Sandwich
SDW.I Main Street – Route 130 Area Sandwich
SDW.J Forestdale Sandwich
SDW.K South Sandwich Sandwich
SDW.L Spring Hill Sandwich
SDW.M Route 6A Area Sandwich
SDW.N Route 6A East – Scorton Marsh Sandwich
SDW.O Old County Road Area
SDW.P Crow Farm Sandwich
SDW.Q Sandwich Fish Hatchery Sandwich
SDW.R Old King’s Highway Regional Historic District Sandwich
SDW.S Town Hall Square Historic District Sandwich
SDW.T Camp Edwards – Cantonment Blocks 12 and 13 Sandwich
SDW.U Otis Air Force Base – BOMARC Missle Facility Sandwich
SDW.V Camp Edwards Firing Ranges Sandwich
SDW.W Jarvesville Historic District Sandwich
SDW.X Town Hall Square Historic District Sandwich
SDW.Y Spring Hill Historic District

(SDW = SanDWich)

There are PDF files online for each area. Become familiar with these, They will tell you which area your house is in and also provide information for Page 2 of Form B.

(See above video for additional MACRIS help.)

Go to

Select Sandwich and Add to List, click Next.

Select Area and Add to List, click Next. You will now have links to all the Area PDf files. You may want to download the ones for your area(s) to your PC.

4. Form Number: This is the Historical Commission Asset Number for your house, ie. “SDW.230.” (The Archives has a file with SDW numbers, or obtain them from MACRIS online.)

5. Place: The description of your Area (from list above) For example Area O is “Old County Road Area”

6. Historic Name: Usually you can obtain this from the old MACRIS for your house. Go to the MACRIS website, Select Sandwich, Add to List, click Next. Type in your street name (ie. Main St) then click Next. You will get a list of all the houses on your street with Historic Property Names for those built prior to 1900. To view the Form B for your house just click the pdf link.

7. Uses: Usually you can obtain this from the Assessors website and/or the old MACRIS Form B for your home.

8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15: Start with the info from the old MACRIS Form B for your house and update, if need be, as you do your research.

16. Acreage: Get this from the Assessor’s website:

17. Setting: This can be found in the Area pdf files (see #3 above).

Finally, we get to Page 2 (whew!):

MACRIS Form B, page 2

18: This can be usually found in the Area pdf files (see #3 above).

19, 20: Start with the old Form B for your house then add, correct and compile using the results of your research in the Archives and/or online.


Here are the guidelines from MACRIS: “In most circumstances, the optimal primary view of a building is a three-quarter view, showing two sides of a structure. Secondary views showing the other facades or significant details are encouraged. Photographs should be taken when deciduous foliage (or snow) does not obscure parts of the building or structure. If photography at that time of year is not possible, find views of properties in which tree cover does not obscure significant features of a house. A view of a rear elevation taken through trees in leaf provides minimally useful information. While sunlight on one or both of the facades being shot often makes an attractive image, the best conditions for photographing a property are when the sky is overcast, so that no elements will be cast in deep shadow.”

Locus Map:

–go to Sandwich Town Mapping System
–enter street name
–enter street #
–click Property Search, map will appear with property outlined in red and on the right you will see
Parcel Number (ie. 82-014) and Land Area (ie. 1.02 acre). Also note Year Built and Design. (These will be helpful when completing the MACRIS forms).
–zoom out (click [-]) (to show more nearby homes and streets)
–click Interactive Mapping
–under Map Labels drop-down, select House Numbers and Road Names

–click Refresh Map
–under Printable Maps drop-down, select 8 1/2 x 11
–click File, Print
–under Printer Name drop-down, select PDF 995 (or similar),
–select a folder on your computer and save the PDF


Whew! you’re done.