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New England by Heart

Plymouth MA Tour: Life Goes On

This tour takes you beyond the essentials of the waterfront to a few other favorite places in Plymouth. The Sparrow House, Jenney Museum and Plimoth Grist Mill are paired nicely with a walk along Town Brook going to or from Brewster Gardens. It’s about a half mile stretch all told. 

If you’re stringing this tour with Burial Hill, you’re already almost there, and you can exit the hill between the Old Fort site and the big obelisk (Robert Cushman), turning right at the bottom of the stairs and meandering down to Summer Street, where you’ll land right in front of the Jenney Museum. You’ll end this tour in Brewster Gardens. There’s also a free parking lot on Spring Lane if you prefer to drive up here.

If you’re starting this tour at the waterfront, do Brewster Gardens first then follow the brook path up to the three buildings. You can then follow your tracks back to Brewster Gardens and the waterfront, or head across Summer Street to Burial Hill and wander back that way

This way from Burial Hill

Richard Sparrow House

First stop is the Richard Sparrow house, billed tenuously as the oldest surviving house in Plymouth, with claims that the house was built by 1640, but that is not clear from historical records. What is known is that Jonathan Sparrow (Richard’s son) sold the property to George Bonum in 1679 and that the house was occupied at that time by Bonum’s son-in-law. The date of construction is unknown. Richard Sparrow did have a house on Summer Street, but it appears to have been at the corner of Summer Street and Spring Lane, not the location where the existing “Richard Sparrow House” sits. All that said, the property was for sure built prior to 1679, and what’s a few decades between friends? It’s still one of the small number of 17th century buildings still standing. The site is half pottery and handcrafted product gallery, and half museum. Both are delightful – and this is a quick stop – you’ll be in and out in a half hour or less.

Jenney Interpretive Center

Next door to the Richard Sparrow House is the Jenney Interpretive Center, also known as the Jenney House and Jenney Museum, or simply “The Jenney”. You can take a 90 minute tour here, which is well worthwhile, even if it covers places you’ve already visited. Leo Martin leads these tours and is a fountain of knowledge and wisdom. In any case, stop in to the little shop and pick up some history.

Plimoth Grist Mill

After your Jenney visit, turn down Spring Lane to the Plimoth Grist Mill (formerly the Jenney Grist Mill). You need to go down the stairs into the gift shop to get the tickets, then head back up to the grist mill. You’ll end up after the tour back a the gift shop, so no need to shop first.

Before going into the mill, look first over the railing to see the fish ladder for the herring running upstream. If it’s spring, you may see this fascinating event. More to come on this after you finish with the mill.

This is a quick tour, but interesting. They do actually use this grist mill to produce grits, cornmeal, flour, and other grains, which you can buy at the store.

Brewster Gardens

After the tour, coming out of the gift shop, you’ll head to the left and up the steps and around to the back of the mill. (There’s a pub there if you’re at the point of contemplating a pint). If not continue on and stop at brook overlook and read about the herring runs. Then continue on the path along Town Brook. You’ll pass under Main Street (actually Main Street Extension at this point, Lord knows why) and into Brewster Gardens. Cross the bridge and check out The Pilgrim Maiden statue.

Brewster Garden bridge over Town Brook
The Pilgrim Maiden

Meander around and enjoy this beautiful park, then exit via the white pergola and you’ll be back on Water Street by Cole’s Hill.

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