The Town of Barnstable Celebrates Its 375th Anniversary

Brendan Clark, Staff Writer

The Town of Barnstable, Massachusetts has turned 375 this year. Since its founding in 1639, Barnstable is still considered the primary business center of the Cape Region. Barnstable is unique in the way that it is divided into seven smaller villages all under the control of one Town government. This year, the celebration of the seven villages and their diverse history and peoples were at the forefront of the celebrations in Barnstable.

After almost 375 years, Barnstable has evolved tremendously, from the village center moving from Barnstable, to West Barnstable, and later Hyannis, to the many changes that have occurred when our town government changed from a Selectmen Government to a Town Council Government.

Today, Barnstable’s government is centered at 367 Main Street in Hyannis, the historic former State Normal School while the seat of government in Barnstable County lies in Barnstable Village. Barnstable’s history and past contributions to society have been featured throughout Barnstable this year.

For this year’s celebration, Barnstable has had events almost daily across the town, from library lectures to parades to a special concert held just for the occasion. Books have been published just for the event, celebratory flags have been made, and a multitude of a commemorative merchandise and souvenirs are being sold at many of Cape Cod’s local retailers and banks.

At the helm of this event has been Town Manager Thomas K. Lynch, Town Council President Jessica Rapp Grassetti, Community Services Director Lynne Poyant, and Town Clerk Ann Quirk. These people, along with many helpful members of The Barnstable 375 Committee, and many volunteers have contributed to the advance and continuation of this celebration.

Regarding her thoughts on what she had taken away the most from these events, Grassetti said, “I would say a greater love for my town. How unique our seven villages are. The fact that our town is so rich in history, and the people that make up the town,”

Lynch said that what he took away the most from the celebration was “That the Sunday events were absolutely wonderful. The diversity of the people on the Town Green, representing every village in The Town of Barnstable, just enjoying the day made me very proud of our town.”

The many events of this year started in April, when the pins and merchandise of the 375Anniversary went on sale. Shortly afterward, the ceremonies began with a rededication of The Town Seal of the Town of Barnstable. Soon afterwards, many events including lectures held weekly at the Sturgis Library in Barnstable Village, nightly historical talks at the Olde Colonial Courthouse, and a series of rotating displays of Barnstable history at the Centerville Historical Society.

The biggest event by far was going to be the July Fourth celebrations with parades, the Hyannis Regatta, and the annual evening fireworks, this year dubbed the “Barnstable 375 Fireworks.” The majority of the parades were cancelled, the special Hyannis 375 Parade was called off, as were the fireworks. Most of the parades and the fireworks were rescheduled to later dates.

The final events of this year include a visit from Barnstable delegates to Barnstaple, England. Lynch, his wife, and Poyant, along with numerous Barnstable citizens travelled the 3,115 miles from Barnstable to Barnstaple. The two town’s shared information about their comparable systems of government and past gifts exchanged between the sister towns were shown. New exchanges of gifts also occurred this year.

This occurred as a return of the events of the 350 anniversary celebration which included delegates from Barnstaple, England visiting Barnstable, Massachusetts. The final “grand event” to close the celebration was the Barnstable Community Picnic on the Town Green which was followed by the special Barnstable 375 Anniversary Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra Concert.

With so much history celebrated this year, it leaves the question of what is in store for the 400 Anniversary Celebration. Grassetti said “Let’s not even think that far ahead yet. But the committee for that celebration will have to meet in 20 years to plan that anniversary. The history of this celebration will certainly influence the history of those in the future, it will be your generation that will be planning that one.”