Hyannis Village Green

Hyannis Village Green. Photo by Charles Sternaimolo

One Town, Seven Villages

The concept of villages versus towns is one that is a constant source of discussion in New England, but particularly on the Cape and Islands as well. The Cape consists of 15 towns, many of which have their own unique villages within their town lines. The town of Barnstable is often a confusing riddle to unravel, partially since two of its villages contain the name Barnstable. The town consists of Barnstable, West Barnstable, Cotuit, Marstons Mills, Centerville, Osterville and Hyannis. Getting down to a more granular level, there are still even more enclaves that by all rights seem to rise to the level of village status, like Cummaquid and Hyannis Port, which each have their own unique zip code and, at least for the time being, their own post offices—in fact Cummaquid can boast the smallest post office in America. And what about Santuit—perhaps they can’t claim distinction in their five-digit mail code, but they do have quite the unique historical society.

Regardless, the connotation of a village is one that certainly resonates within the small-town lifestyle found in this region. Images of strolling through a village, greeting neighbors with a nod or a more lengthy pause for conversation; picking up the paper and maybe some coffee and treats; or relishing the resourceful nature of the local hardware store—all of these day-to-day activities are the transactions of life that invest us in our local communities.

In the next few pages, we will take the journey through two of Barnstable’s villages, Hyannis and Osterville, and between the two we will tie-up for a bit in the Harbor LIFE of Hyannis and the bustling Ocean Street docks. Hopefully this exploration will encourage you to not only venture out into your own village, but also entice you to visit one of the many other special communities across our unique region. –Julie Wagner