The Winslow House on the Mayflower Society House Grounds in Plymouth, Massachusetts – In the very heart of Plymouth’s historical district, just a short walk from the famed Plymouth Rock, are the grounds of Mayflower’s Society House, also known as the Winslow House. The grounds house the most historic of all the dwellings from the time of the Pilgrims who came to a new world seeking new lives. One such home was built in the 1700s by Pilgrim Edward Winslow. Located to the rear of the stately home is a library and the offices that hold the history of the descendants of those who made that iconic voyage.
Overlooking the harbor, the property looks much the same as it did then, complete with a replica (returning in 2019) of the legendary Mayflower ship itself. A cemetery known as Cole’s Hill is also on the property and is where the majority of those original settlers are buried. The Society House is available for tours with a small admission fee, as are the gardens and library. Part of the tour illustrates the functioning of the society as a means of preservation of this portion of American history. Three hundred years of furnishings and other artifacts are on display.
The Willoughby family purchased the grounds in the late 19th century and transformed the somewhat plain Winslow House into the stateliest of Plymouth’s mansions, assisted by a descendant of the Mayflower, architect Joseph Chandler.
The Willoughby family originally used the Winslow House as a kitchen in the summertime. Back before air conditioning was commonplace, keeping a kitchen in a separate building ensured that the main house did not become too hot to bear while cooking the meals for the family.
The beautiful garden to the rear of the home was also designed by Joseph Everett.
When it was decided that the grounds would be used to preserve the history of the Mayflower and its descendants, the Winslow House became the headquarters. In the 1990s, several renovations and additions were completed to expand the size of the library and to better preserve the many documents. The last expansion occurred in 2004, and finally the library was opened to the general public. All operations are handled from the Administration Center.