A History of Barnstable

Barnstable Village

Barnstable Village is the oldest of the town’s villages and the second oldest area of the Cape to be settled by the Europeans. Settlements first developed along the shore and the Old Kings Highway. The sheltered waters of the Harbor became the center for a vigorous maritime trade which reached its zenith in the mid-19th Century when clipper ships sailed from the village to the North-west and the Orient. This maritime trade brought great wealth to Barnstable Village. Sea Captains built great houses along the Old Kings Highway and side roads leading to the Harbor. These houses and the historic landscapes remain largely intact to day, thanks to vigorous preservation efforts.

Barnstable Village is quintessential Cape Cod. The historic landscapes and views are closely tied with the identity of the Town and County. They are the foundation of the tourist economy and the perception of the town as a desirable place to live.

Recommendations are made for improvements to the Harbor and to maintain the scenic and historic character of the Old Kings Highway corridor. South of Route 6, the issues of development are town-wide in scope but potentially impact the village in two respects: traffic and water supply. The density and type of development south of Rt. 6 must be evaluated for impact on the water supply to both Barnstable Village and Hyannis, and upon traffic along the Old Kings Highway and connecting roads.

Village Character Physical landscape

Barnstable Village landscapes include all three of the principal land forms found in the town. Within the Industrial Zone adjacent to Hyannis, glacial out-wash plains of course sand and gravel soils form a gently rolling landscape with scrub oak and pines. Shallow coastal plain ponds can be found throughout the area. There are no streams, the soils are too porous. This area forms one of the most productive aquifers in the town. Most of the water supplies for Barnstable Village and Hyannis come from this area. Northwards, the land rises to knob-like hills of the moraine which runs along the backbone of the Cape. Soils in this area are finer and very mixed. On the north side of the moraine there are small, steep-sided kettle ponds which are drained by streams leading to the Harbor.

Along the Old Kings Highway and the shore, the land is low lying with heavy, water-retentive soils, including clays, peats, and marsh deposits. The shoreline is indented with small creeks and bordered by marshes extending to extensive tidal flats. These flats are productive shellfish habitats. Rights of way to the water must be identified and preserved.