Come to Your Senses in Chatham!

By Henry, Patricia, Sarah, David, and Jonathan Mitchell

Entrance to Town Park

Many prospective visitors ask us, “What's happening in Chatham?” — to which we are likely to reply, “Nothing in particular….” Of course, that is an exaggeration — but only a slight exaggeration! (We do often mention that “in the spring and summer, you can watch the grass grow!”)

Chatham does not offer theme parks, night life, shopping extravaganzas, or organized and big-investment-based activities for hordes of tourists. After all, we are a town of only 1300 persons and a mere handful of rooms for overnight accommodations.

But Chatham does offer pleasures that are all too rare in the hustle and bustle of modern America — a community with intimacy of scale, closeness to nature, and a stable and very modest prosperity which has been minimally disrupted during its two and a quarter centuries of existence.

Acquaintances of ours once confided that when they had moved to Chatham after years of living in the D.C. area “It was like jumping off a fast carousel: the music and motion stopped, and we were trying to get balanced on our feet, and come to our senses in a world of silence. It took us a couple of years to learn to create our own excitement. We used to just passively go with the urban flow.”

We suggest that if one anticipates Chatham's “different little world,” it is possible to be ready for the experience, and to enjoy it thoroughly on short notice, rather than struggling for two years to adjust!


Dogwood at Chatham Hall

Chatham was founded before the Industrial Age, and developed much of its physical pattern before the time of automobiles, or even trains. Strikingly well-preserved, it is one of America's few remaining “walking towns,” along with such famous larger urban examples as the French Quarter of New Orleans and Charleston's Battery. One of the favorite activities of Chathamites is to simply stroll the streets on a pleasant day or evening, taking in the nuances of the changes of season, and of the play of light on Chatham's quite remarkable architectural inventory. Pedestrians live in a world of slow motion, and of small delights.

The development of heightened awareness through unhurried exposure to nature, to community, and to conversation has been a major factor in Chatham's developing a reputation as a place of birth and of nurture for many artists, musicians, and writers.

The following photographic collections provide illustrations of a few of each season's offerings, ready and waiting to be sensed.


Spring

Spring

Summer

Summer

Fall

Fall

Winter

Winter


Many of you have asked us, “What's ahead for charming little Chatham?” The answer seems fairly obvious (but, admittedly, nothing is certain!). This rare traditional American village sits on the western periphery of the “Eastern metroplex,” and it is being scrutinized by those urban residents. Several thousand visitors (“unique visitors,” technically speaking) per day come to this website, most of them looking for information about Chatham and the surrounding area. E-mail and telephone conversations indicate that Chatham is constantly being actively researched as a desirable home for young families, for retirees, and for web-based businesses. A steady trickle of this in-migration is already occurring. As a former political office-holder ruefully commented, “The demographics are changing.”

Unfortunately, simultaneously an environmental situation involving noise and stifling smoke and odor has arisen on the town's west side (see related note). Spokesmen for the industry and governmental bodies involved all profess publicly to have the best of intentions. Let us earnestly hope that the good intentions will result in corrective measures. With the application of good sense and sensitivity, Chatham can be a delightfully livable historic village for generations to come.


This website and its ChathamGuide.com portal are sponsored by Mitchells Publications.