Water Square

VRA Core

Title

Water Square

Description

As early as 1800, Water Square was the central commercial district in Falmouth for both imported goods and local supplies. Located close to the wharves, the Square was from the beginning surrounded by shops and businesses that sold international merchandise, especially fancy goods from England. But the Square was also the central location for local goods and supplies. Since at least the 1840s, the Square was also the location for the weekly market which served as the major shopping event on the north coast and continues today as the Wednesday Bend-Down Market.

The Square was also the location of the town’s fresh water supply. At its founding in the 1780s, the town’s residents relied on water drawn from privately owned, shallow, brackish wells. The growth of the town, the importance of its port as a location for ships to resupply, and the constant threat of fire soon encouraged town leaders to find a better source of water. By 1804, before New York City had a municipal water supply, the Falmouth Water Company bought land at Martha Brae, about a mile from Falmouth, and built a diversion canal, rubble dam, water wheel, and sluice gate, which fed water from the river into Falmouth through a series of aqueducts and mains. Once it reached Falmouth, water was stored in a massive masonry tank in the middle of Water Square, which dominated the square until it was demolished and replaced by the small circular garden and fountain in the 1950s.

Location

Water Square and Market Street District

Identifier

B041-S011

Citation

“Water Square,” The Falmouth Project, accessed August 18, 2022, http://falmouth.lib.virginia.edu/items/show/1148.