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Cape Cod Town of Barnstable MA Overview & Map

Barnstable is the largest town both in population and area. It covers approximately 74 square miles of territory. It extends clear across the Cape from North to South. Bordered by Cape Cod Bay on the north, Nantucket Sound on the south, Sandwich and Mashpee on the west, and Yarmouth on the east, Barnstable is 69 miles southeast of Boston and 250 miles from New York City.

The town has seven distinct villages some of which are divided into localities. Barnstable, the oldest and the parent village, is on the north side of the Cape and butts up against Hyannis, the “Hub of the Cape,” on the south. It has one locality, Cummaquid, the section up against Yarmouth.

The other villages are Centerville, Osterville, Cotuit, Marstons Mills and West Barnstable. In Centerville is Craigville noted for its beach and in Osterville there is the exclusive Wianno section and Grand Island. In Hyannis is the summer residential section of Hyannisport (often known as the location of the Kennedy Compound), in Cotuit, the locality known as Santuit, and in Marstons Mills, Newtown, with one or two other localities divided among the villages.

Barnstable village contains the county institutions, chief of which is the imposing stone court house, built more than 170 years ago and situated on a little eminence overlooking the harbor with stately Corinthian stone pillars in front giving dignity to the building. In addition to the court rooms and the like, the building contains the county treasurer’s office, the probate court room and registry and the registry of deeds.

Court has been held at Barnstable almost ever since Massachusetts was founded and some famous trials with noted lawyers as participants have been held there. The old house of corrections is in the rear and has been replaced by a new and modern structure located at Camp Edwards.

The first deed recorded in the county was that of Joseph Lothrop on Oct. 6, 1680, and previous to that time all were recorded at Plymouth in Plymouth county. But on Oct. 22, 1827, the brick building containing the probate records and the registry of deeds was burned and only one volume of the deeds was saved and only one volume of the probate records lost. This loss has caused some confusion in the county ever since.

Osterville is a lively little village containing the exclusive summer residential section of Wianno where there are numerous splendid summer estates. Centerville is a quiet but charming little community given over to summer recreation. Cotuit is the home of the famous oyster of that name and has a number of summer estates.

But Barnstable, the parent village of them all is quiet, sleepy old place with only a shadow of its former greatness and activity remaining. Once it was the scene of extensive salt works but they have long since folded up and disappeared. Its harbor used to be crowded with boats from many foreign ports but now is mostly filled with recreational boats and the Mid Cape’s only whale watching boat.

Barnstable was the first town settled on the Cape as it was in 1633 that Rev. John Lothrop led his little flock, already organized into a church when it left England, from Scituate and made Barnstable his stopping place.

It is characteristic of his time that almost the first thing they did after arriving at Barnstable was to hold a church service at what is known as “Sacrament Rock”, and also to hold there the first town meeting. The rock is still there as is also the first Congregational church in the world at West Barnstable built when his little flock divided at Barnstable. This church possesses the records of the original church formed in England and so is the natural heir to it and hence its designation.

Barnstable has a claim to fame as it was here the first note of resistance to British rule was sounded. This was at the little old court house at the head of Rendezvous lane in front of which was a triangular plot of land where the Liberty pole stood and where the men were drilled for the Revolutionary war.

In the old coaching days, horses were always changed at Barnstable so that it was a place of much importance.

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Posted by Cape Cod - (website) on 07/31/06
Categories: BarnstablePlaces
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