West Dennis Lighthouse

Dennis, Massachusetts
West Dennis Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse in West Dennis, Massachusetts on Cape Cod. The light was built in 1855 and its lantern is now mounted on an inn.
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About This Location

Introduction:

The West Dennis Lighthouse, affectionately known as the Bass River Lighthouse, is a maritime treasure nestled along the shores of West Dennis, Massachusetts. This historic beacon has long guided seafarers through the intricate waterways of Cape Cod, and it holds a unique place in the region’s maritime history.

Establishment and Historical Significance:

In 1853, Congress allocated $4,000 to address the pressing need for a navigational aid in this area. A plot of land just east of Bass River was purchased from George W. Richardson in 1854, and the construction of a white, one-and-a-half-story, wooden keeper’s house commenced. This house featured an iron lantern room perched atop its pitched roof. In April 1855, James Chase became the first keeper, illuminating the light for the first time.

The West Dennis Lighthouse played a pivotal role in ensuring the safe passage of vessels through the intricate waterways of Cape Cod, with Keeper Chase at the helm of its operations.

Specifications of the Lighthouse:

The West Dennis Lighthouse stands as a testament to classic New England lighthouse design. It reaches a focal height of approximately 45 feet, boasting a conical tower constructed of brick and painted white to enhance its visibility against the coastal backdrop. Its historical light exhibited a characteristic white flash at regular intervals, providing distinctive guidance to mariners navigating these challenging waters.

Evolution and Decommissioning:

The Bass River Light continued to serve as a vital navigational aid until 1914, when the Cape Cod Canal redirected boat traffic away from Nantucket Sound towards Buzzard Bay. Keeper Eastman was transferred to Ned’s Point Lighthouse, where he had the honor of serving as the last keeper of that lighthouse. The Fresnel lens was removed from the decommissioned Bass River Lighthouse, and a skeleton tower with an automatic beacon was erected across the river at South Yarmouth to take its place.

Transformation into the Lighthouse Inn:

Bass River Lighthouse’s history took an intriguing turn when Harry K. Noyes, of the Noyes Buick Company in Boston, acquired it at auction. Noyes expanded the main house, constructed additional buildings, landscaped the grounds, and used it as a summer retreat. After Noyes’s passing in 1933, the property was put up for sale, eventually purchased by State Senator Everett Stone in 1938. Initially planned for development, the property instead became a lodging destination due to popular demand. This led to the founding of the Lighthouse Inn in 1939, offering an overnight stay for two, including three meals, for a mere five dollars.

Ownership and Modern Use:

Today, the West Dennis Lighthouse is a part of the Lighthouse Inn hotel. Visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of this iconic beacon can park at West Dennis Beach and admire its historic charm. Hotel guests are even more privileged, as they can park near the lighthouse and bask in its scenic beauty.

Relighting and Modern Identity:

After being shrouded in darkness for seventy-five years, Bass River Lighthouse was rekindled on August 7, 1989, marking the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Lighthouse Service. Today, the privately maintained light is officially designated as West Dennis Light on the Coast Guard’s official Light List. Its welcoming one-second flash every six seconds now beckons both guests and local mariners, a symbol of Cape Cod’s enduring maritime heritage.

Lighthouse Specs

  • Year Constructed: 1855
  • First Lit: 1855
  • Construction: Iron tower on wood house
  • Tower Shape: Conical on dwelling roof
  • Focal Height: 44 feet
  • Markings: The lighthouse is white with red trim
  • Characteristic: Flashing white every 6 seconds
  • Range: 12 nautical miles
  • Status: Active

Location

Address: 1 Lighthouse Inn Road, Dennis, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 41.651722, -70.169194
Parking GPS Coordinates: 41.651722, -70.169194
Parking Notes: There is a dedicated parking area for hotel guests located just a few feet from the lighthouse. The public parking lot at West Dennis Beach is just a few feet away too.

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