Since 1602 Hyannis has enjoyed a rich and powerful history.
Early settlers of this area were primarily farmers. In 1690 Edward Coleman, Jr. built the first permanent residence at the head of Lewis Bay and settlers from England incorporated the Town of Barnstable in 1639.
By the 18th century, over 200 shipmasters had dwellings in Hyannis as the area become known as “the Port” due to its central location and marine activities.
Since 1874 senators, dignitaries and presidents including President Ulysses S. Grant, President Grover Cleveland and of course President John F. Kennedy have visited or called Hyannis home.
Today, Hyannis is the largest and most central village of the Town of Barnstable. Other villages include Barnstable, Cotuit, Centerville, Marstons Mills, Osterville and West Barnstable.
While visiting Hyannis, be sure to visit the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum and the Cape Cod Baseball League Hall of Fame and Museum to learn more about our past and present history.
1602: Capt. Bartholomew Gosnold was the first to view the area now known as Hyannis
1639: Settlers from England incorporate the Town of Barnstable.
1666: Nicholas Davis, first settler and business built warehouse for oysters on Lewis Bay.
1690: Edward Coleman, Jr. built the first permanent residence at the head of Lewis Bay and John Thatcher provided the first mail trip to Boston
1840: Over 200 shipmasters had established dwellings in Hyannis. Salt works was also an important industry.
1854: The first railroad cars reach Hyannis, signaling the development of trade and business in the area.
1872: Hyannis Land Company purchases nearly 1000 acres from Lewis Bay to Craigville and most of Hyannisport for about $100
1874: President Ulysses S. Grant visits Hyannis
1928: Joseph P. Kennedy and his wife Rose purchase the Malcolm Cottage in Hyannisport
1952: Senator John F. Kennedy purchases adjacent residence which later becomes known as the “Summer White House”
Today Millions of visitors come to Hyannis to enjoy the beautiful weather, beaches and historic sites including the Kennedy Compound
Hyannis (and Wianno, a section of Osterville) derived its distinctive name from Iyannough, a kindly 17thcentury Wampanoag sachem, or chief, of the Mattakeese tribe. Its Village Green is marked by a bronze Iyannough statue. Hyannis is the Cape’s mercantile, transportation and business hub. Its historic mile-long Main Street is perfect for shopping, dining, strolling or people-watching. Buses, seasonal trains, island ferries and airplanes are near Main Street. The nostalgic working harbor is a five-minute walk as are museums and many services. Cape Cod Mall is about a mile off Main and many historic houses and buildings are found here. Several outstanding warm water beaches including Kalmus, a popular wind and kits surfing venue, are a short distance from the village center. Nearby, in the iconic hamlet of Hyannisport, JFK maintained a “summer White House” and the Kennedy family has been part of the Hyannis community for nearly a century!
Originally called Chequaquet, and named because of its central location, Centerville is primarily residential, but has a lovely bowered Main Street with elegant homes, quaint shops, museums, steepled churches and popular one of a kind ice creamery. It sits along Nantucket Sound on the south side of Town. Several crescents of landmark white sandy beaches in its Craigville neighborhood, directly opposite lip-smacking clam shacks, are extremely popular. Several beaches are sandwiched between Nantucket Sound and the meandering Centerville River, a popular kayaking venue.
As you might have surmised, this quiet village was once a center for oystering. Its original Native American name was Cotacheset. It remains a relatively obscure village that has a stupendously charming Main Street enclave of white clapboard buildings housing an upscale collection of shops, boutiques, galleries, eateries and banks. Cape Cod Academy, a private school, calls the village home. Along its shady byways are some of Cape Cod’s most impressive and lavish homes. Many of these, and yet larger estates, remain unseen within gated community at Oyster Harbors as well as Seapuit, Wianno and other parts of the village exclusively the domains of wealthy seasonal residents summer. Osterville has two private country clubs, the Wianno Club and Oyster Harbors, both features private 18-hole golf courses, tennis facilities and beaches. Crosby Boat Yard, port to renowned Crosby catboats and Wianno seniors, is located here. The latter was a favorite of President John F. Kennedy. Dowses Beach is the only semi-public, resident-only beach. This lovely beach fronts Nantucket Sound and rears up to tranquil East Bay, a favorite of families with children.
Cotuit is a semi-peninsular coastal buffer between Osterville and Mashpee whose Wampanoag name derived from “place of the council.” This smallest village — including five square miles with 12 miles of coastline surrounded on three sides by water — was part of a 1648 land purchase negotiated by Plymouth Colony’s Myles Standish. Primarily residential Cotuit lies on Nantucket Sound and Cotuit Bay. Its several smaller beaches such as Ropes, Riley’s, Loop and Oregon Beaches. Interestingly, this land purchase was consummated in exchange for “one great brass kettle seven spans in wideness round about, and one broad hoe,” a fun fact memorialized in the popular Kettle-Ho, a village restaurant and tavern. Many are familiar with delicious Cotuit oysters, which are farmed here. The village contains stately homes, historic architecture, Cotuit Center for the Arts and Cahoon Museum. Cotuit’s northwestern edge is called Santuit, a small hamlet at the junction of Main Street and Routes 28 and 130.
Marstons Mills Village
This village, surrounded by Cotuit, Centerville, Barnstable and West Barnstable, is without direct ocean access except via Prince’s Cove, far inland. Settled in the mid-1600s, there was a fulling mill and weaving operation along today’s Marstons Mills River. Today, this largely residential community features many cranberry bogs, lakes and kettle ponds as part of its glacial outwash plain, such as Mystic Lake and Middle and Hamblins Ponds, but no salt water beaches. This verdant village is home to Cape Cod’s only grass airport, the circa 1929 Cape Cod Airfield, where bi-plane rides are offered. The 18-hole Olde Barnstable Fairgrounds Golf Course, sits on the site of an old fairgrounds. The pleasing village center, clustered around Main Street, Lovell’s Lane and River Road, offers quaint shops, restaurants and service shops. Burgess Park and its herring run provide enjoyment for residents and visitors as does the disc golf located there. A lovely pond located at Falmouth Road and Route 149, replete with a long-term resident swan pair, is charming year round.
West Barnstable Village
This historic seaside village of just more than 3,000 residents in the Town’s northwest corner, sitting along Cape Cod Bay and astride Route 6A —Old Kings Highway — is quintessential Cape Cod. Originally settled as a farming community, today it is mainly residential with pockets of shops, a few bed & breakfasts, glorious period architecture, cranberry bogs and its renowned and popular six-mile Sandy Neck barrier beach. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an influx of Finnish immigrants settled here; the village’s east side is sometimes called “Finn Town.” The magnificent signature 1717 West Parish meetinghouse at the village crossroads reaches for the heavens it invokes. A nostalgic train station marks a stop on the Cape Cod Railroad, replete with stationary train cars, plus village and feed stores, art gallery and furniture crafters. The village comprises Great Marsh; Sandy Neck and several smaller beaches; 1,100-acre West Barnstable; Bridge Creek; Otis Atwood; and Jenkins Wildlife Sanctuary Conservation Areas, Cape Cod Community College, Cape Cod Conservatory of Music, Art, Drama and Dance plus pockets of residential and mercantile properties.
The Village of Barnstable is the Town of Barnstable’s most historic in Town. Set along the Old Kings Highway, here one finds many period buildings, some dating back to the 17th century, and historic sites within the village core. Barnstable Village (which shares its name with the County and Town) is also the site of the County Complex, town offices, courts and deeds registry. Barnstable Harbor is a working harbor as well as mid-Cape embarkation point for popular seasonal whale watches. Its small business district near the Harbor includes restaurants, galleries and studios, renowned Barnstable Comedy Club, several museums, business services and coffee shops. A number of small, secret beaches with stunning Sandy Neck views can be found along 6A.