Making Democracy Work

Cultural Activities

Publications, television and radio, libraries, arts, music and entertainment and more are available in Falmouth

Publications, Television and Radio

The Falmouth Enterprise is the legal newspaper of record for Falmouth and reports the wide range of community doings (and misdoings) in town. Its archives of articles and photographs vividly recreate previous eras. Many other publications enliven the town. Several local organizations put out newsletters, local authors publish books of poetry and prose for adults and children, photographers publish their collections, and a stream of scientific articles comes from the institutions in Woods Hole.

Falmouth Community Television (FCTV 13) is a very active Public Access Television station. Town meetings, municipal and committee meetings are often cable cast live. Sports, art events and other community topics are also shown; and there is a daily calendar of local events. FCTV offers volunteers training in use of equipment, television program production including studio use, field camera and editing of their programs which are cable cast on Channel 13. They also offer training for seniors in use of computers. The Maser art gallery features work by local artists. The Falmouth Educational channel, TV 14, operated by the Falmouth Public Schools, provides locally originated educational programming about and of interest to the constituents of the Falmouth Public Schools.

WCAI & WNAN are a regional service of WGBH public radio station in Boston. The Cape and Islands stations, broadcasting at 90.1 and 94.3, cover Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard; the Nantucket station broadcasts at 91.1. The stations carry local news and interviews as well as National Public Radio programs. Their headquarters are in Woods Hole.


The Town of Falmouth is served by widespread and excellent library facilities. The Falmouth Public Library consists of a main building in Falmouth with branches in East Falmouth and North Falmouth. In addition, there are libraries located in West Falmouth and Woods Hole that are privately operated but supported in part by town funds and open to the public.

A Falmouth Library Society was founded in 1792 and a circulating library was established in 1876. The original granite Memorial Library building was built in 1901 at 300 Main Street. Two additions were made in 1968 and 1978. In 2008 a large addition and major renovation project, including historical preservation of the original Memorial Library, was completed with funding from a state grant and major support from the citizens and taxpayers of Falmouth. Annual operating funds are provided through the Town budget.

The East Falmouth library, overlooking a pond on Route 28, was once a private residence donated to the town by its owner. The North Falmouth library at Nye Park was transformed from a barracks in 1965.

The library system operates under a seven-member elected Board of Trustees. The board meets once a month and sets operational policies and standards. The board appoints the Director who in turn recommends staff hiring to the Town Manager.

Since 1966, the Falmouth Public Library has had a contract with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to provide materials via inter-library loan, and reference and advisory service to users of the 39 public libraries on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Through this regional library system, library users have access to materials in most of the libraries in the state.

The main branch is a reference and information center and also houses a traditional circulating collection. Computerized databases provide locations of titles, abstracts, directory information, addresses, and other types of information. The library also offers internet access. Reference librarians help a wide range of users to find information for professional and recreational purposes.

The Falmouth Public Library is a key participant in the Southeastern Massachusetts System inter-library loan program and serves as a regional reference service for the system. The Library and its branches, as well as the Woods Hole and West Falmouth Libraries, are members of Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing (CLAMS), which is a multi-library cooperative built upon a common database for circulation, resource-sharing, inter-library loan, and efficient collection development. Users need just one library card for all public libraries in the network.

The collection at the main library and its two branches consists of over 130,205 books, a current in-depth reference collection, microfilm of newspapers and periodicals, and computerized indexes. The collection also includes a wide variety of reading in large print books. Videos, audio tapes, paperbacks, pamphlets, and a large periodical collection round out the basic collection. Microfilms of educational, business and telephone directories are available.

There is an extensive collection of children's books in the main library. Other children's services include story hours, holiday and craft programs and occasional guest performances. Persons unable to get to the library can have books delivered by the Homebound Librarian.

In recognition of Falmouth's tri-centennial year in 1986, the library trustees raised private funds to erect a statue of Katharine Lee Bates, Falmouth native and author of "America the Beautiful", on the southwest corner of the library grounds.

The West Falmouth Library was opened in 1879 with an initial collection of fifty books. The present building, built in 1896, is on Route 28A, opposite the historic Quaker Meeting House. An addition was completed in 1972. The library is administered by a board of directors elected by the membership. They appoint the Librarian and staff. The budget includes an appropriation from the town, membership dues, donations, fund-raising events and endowment income. There is a permanent collection of more than 11,800 volumes supplemented by books from the Eastern Regional Library System. Of special historical interest are a 35 Žvolume set of school books from the 1839 School Library of District No.5 and Captain Caleb Hamlin's 1895 Ship Library of 110 volumes.

The West Falmouth Library provides a center for a large variety of community activities. There are story/craft hours for young children, a book discussion group that meets once a month and a weekly bridge group. In addition, the library sponsors a speaker's program, the annual Art Show, and the annual Book Sale.

Founded in 1873, the Woods Hole Public Library is on Woods Hole Road. The original stone building was constructed in 1913 and enlarged in 1952. In 1990, a major renovation and expansion project resulted in additional space and many improvements, including handicapped access. The library is managed by 13 trustees elected by the corporation. Funding comes from memberships, contributions, fund-raising events, and endowment, supplemented by support from the town.

In addition to a general collection of books, periodicals, and audio tapes, the Woods Hole Library is a repository of local history and books by and about local people. A bequest by Thomas G. Ratcliffe in 1981 gave the library a special collection of books in drama and theater arts. A group of historical paintings of Woods Hole by Franklin Gifford is on display in the building. The library sponsors programs of interest to the community throughout the year, including films, concerts, story hours and lectures. Other services include book delivery to the homebound and programs for local pre-school groups.

The MBLWHOI Library , which is located in Woods Hole, is internationally recognized as defining current trends and practices in marine information sciences and bioinformatics. The Library continues to build one of the most unique print and electronic literature collections in the biological, biomedical, ecological, and oceanographic sciences.


The Falmouth Cultural Council, formerly known as the Falmouth Arts Council, administers state lottery funds from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. These funds are distributed to local communities to encourage arts and humanities projects at the local level. The Falmouth Cultural Council is a town committee. The members are appointed by the Selectmen for two-year terms, with a maximum of three consecutive terms. Funds are administered through the Town Treasurer. The Cultural Council divides its funds between grants to arts organizations and individuals, and the Performing Arts Students Series (PASS). PASS enables school children to attend selected professional performances outside of the regular school curriculum. The basic concept motivating these grants has been that the arts (visual, musical, theater, literary) both enrich the quality of life in a community and bring additional economic activity and increased tourism.

The Council supports art classes for disadvantaged children, Falmouth Artists' Guild projects, concerts by local choral and orchestral groups, poetry workshops, dramatic performances and dance recitals, all of which are open to the public. It has made grants to the local FM public radio station, specifically for a `local life' program and one on a local composer.

The Elaine Pear Cohen awards are locally funded. They are given for career development of Falmouth resident artists.

The Committee to Encourage Public Art is a nonprofit group organized in 1998 to initiate and support projects in all of the arts for each of the seven villages of Falmouth.

The Falmouth Artists Guild is dedicated to the visual arts, providing educational and exhibition opportunities on a year-round basis. In 2009, with the help of substantial local support, the Falmouth Arts Center was constructed on Gifford Street. Art work is displayed in two galleries which are open to the public.

Falmouth also has several excellent private art galleries. A directory of artists and a web site maintained by the Cultural Council is accessible online at A copy of the directory is available at the main branch of the Library.

Music And Entertainment

Falmouth residents can enjoy several concert series as well as the chance to participate in musical groups. The town sponsors weekly band concerts during the summer at the Town Bandshell on Falmouth Harbor. The Marine Biological Laboratory hosts classical music concerts. In addition to a number of talented, year-round jazz groups, a jazz festival takes place in October. From October to May, on the first and third Sunday evenings, the Woods Hole Folk Music Society features musicians from all over the world. More information is available at Arts Falmouth.

Mastersingers by the Sea is an audition chamber chorus that performs in Falmouth as well as other locations on the south coast and is accompanied by musicians from the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra. It presents works by master composers from the Renaissance to the 21st century.

The Falmouth Chorale is open to all who enjoy singing. It presents concerts at Christmas and Easter as well as several others that feature a variety of choral music, often with orchestral accompaniment. The Greater Falmouth Mostly All-Male Chorus features choral music from Beethoven to Broadway and beyond.

The Falmouth Chamber Players is an amateur orchestra comprised of musicians who are dedicated to the playing and performance of classical instrumental music, with an emphasis on historical chamber and orchestral works from the Baroque through the Romantic periods.

The Woods Hole Theater Company, which has been active for over 35 years, mounts four dramatic productions a year. The Company operates year-round. Its performances are presented in the Woods Hole Community Hall.

The Falmouth Theatre Guild is a non-profit organization that produces several auditioned musicals and revues each year and occasional plays, usually at Highfield Theater. Anyone interested in any aspect of the theater may join. The sets and costumes are all locally designed and produced, and the director and production staff are all Guild members.

The Cape Cod Conservatory's Performing Arts Center on Highfield Drive offers music, dance, art, drama and writing classes for all ages and aptitudes.

In July the Cape Cod Theater Project brings together playwrights of new American plays with professional directors and actors + often straight from Broadway + for staged readings at Falmouth Academy on Highfield Drive.

The Falmouth Forum, a series of Friday night lectures sponsored by the Associates of the Marine Biological Laboratory features a variety of topics of interest to the general public. The lectures are free of charge and are preceded by a buffet dinner in the MBL Swope dining room at a modest price.

WHOI's Peanut Butter Club offers scientific talks, slide shows of scientific journeys, and movies about almost anything at noon on Fridays in the Redfield Laboratory auditorium in Woods Hole.

During the summer, Highfield Theater is taken over by the College Light Opera Company for a series of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and Broadway musicals. CLOC is a non-profit organization with a local board of directors. It draws on collegiate talent from all over the country.

The Fun (d) raising Players are a Falmouth-based non-profit community theater group operating year-round in various locations. The group specializes in productions that help to raise funds and awareness for other charitable organizations.

The Barnstable County Fair is held each summer in July at the Barnstable County Fairground located on Route 151 in Hatchville. The Fairground is owned by the private, non-profit Barnstable County Agricultural Society, founded in 1844. The manager, secretary and maintenance person are the only permanent employees. All the activities related to the County Fair are carried out by volunteers.


The Falmouth Historical Society was founded in 1900 and incorporated in 1904 in order to preserve the history of Falmouth and its villages. The society is now located in three buildings on the north side of the Village Green. The headquarters is in the Julia Wood House Museum, which was built in 1790 for Dr. Francis Wicks, a noted early physician and a medical corpsman in the Revolution. The house boasts one of the town's few remaining widow's walks. Various exhibits include original 18th century scenic wallpaper brought from Paris by a West Falmouth sea captain for his bride, period furniture, portraits of Falmouth residents, antique hooked rugs, an extensive quilt collection, children's toys and a restored colonial kitchen.

The second house, known as the Conant House Museum, displays mementoes of whaling days, including a shell collection and examples of sailors' valentines. There is also some china, silver, and examples of Falmouth glass. A military exhibit includes items from the Revolutionary War through World War I. The Conant House also has space for the archivist, two temperature-controlled vaults for maps, archival documents and ships' logs. There is a research library for those interested in tracing their family roots or for searching out local history.

Adjacent to the Wood House is the Hallett Barn with displays of early tools and farm implements and a 19th century sleigh. It also houses the old town pump, once located at the Green. A typical colonial garden unites the houses and barn. It is maintained by members of the Falmouth Garden Club who also maintain its extensive memorial garden.

The society also owns the birthplace of Katharine Lee Bates, a small house located near the Green on West Main Street. It is not open to the public at present. However, there is a Bates Room in the Conant House Museum.

In the fall and spring, the Society conducts an active program with Falmouth's school children; in summer there is a weekly walking tour of the area for members and tourists. The archives and research libraries are open seasonally from mid-June to mid-September. The FHS also sponsors periodic newsletters, special events, lectures and an annual Christmas open house. It is supported by membership dues, contributions, and admission fees.

The responsibilities of the Falmouth Historical Commission, formed in 1979, include ".... the preservation, protection and development of the historical or archeological assets of....the town," and to "seek to coordinate the activities of unofficial bodies organized for similar purposes." Its activities include the initial step in approval of proposals for the selection of buildings for inclusion in The National Register of Historic Places. It published The Book of Falmouth in 1986 to honor the town tercentenary.

There are several historic buildings owned by the town. The Poor House was built around 1769 on Sandwich Road as the Peter Yost Tavern. It is now located next to the Recreation Center on East Main Street and is known as the Marks House. Lawrence Academy on Academy Lane overlooks Shivericks Pond behind Main Street. It now houses the Chamber of Commerce office on the main floor and Samaritan volunteers who staff a hotline on the second floor. The historic Emerald House in East Falmouth is operated as a thrift shop by the Falmouth Service Center and as a museum of Portuguese-American history. At the west end of town, Highfield Hall was extensively restored using private funds. The Woods Hole Community Association maintains as public buildings the Woods Hole School and the Old Woods Hole Fire Station as well as the Woods Hole Community Hall.

The Woods Hole Historical Collection operates a museum and archives in Bradley House Museum, adjacent to the Woods Hole Library. Adjacent to the Museum there is a Small Boat exhibit in a restored barn and the Yale workshop. The museum exhibits are open in the summer and feature a Woods Hole Spritsail boat and a scale model of the village in 1895. The archives are open year-round and contain documents from the village's past, including several prize- winning books, many photographs from the 1880s and a fine oral history collection with more than 200 tapes and transcripts. The Historical Collection also has an active publishing program including a semi-annual journal, Spritsail.