Dennis Village

Traveling along Route 6A, it might be easy to assume this charming village on the northside of the Cape is sleepy and quiet. Exactly the opposite is true—it is a vibrant enclave that is experiencing a wave of young entrepreneurs who are reimagining Cape Cod businesses. Photo by Josh Shortsleeve

“Village is a place where you can find peace, unity, strength, inspiration and most importantly a natural and beautiful life.” – Minahil urfan

Where the Past is Present

This is the first installment of a new series exploring the bustling life of villages throughout the Cape & Islands

The history of the Cape and Islands is woven into the fabric of the various villages that anchor the coastline of our region. Seemingly a New England phenomenon (in the context of the United States), the village was the precursor of the town at large, but more importantly a settlement of like-minded individuals, gathered together for community, innovative cooperation, and defense against the countless perils of early colonial life. On the Cape, while most of the villages share common elements, each, like a family of siblings, possess a personality all their own.

A drive along Route 6A, despite the season, is always a blood-pressure-lowering, contemplative exercise, so it seems fitting that it’s the access to a village that appears to be so anchored to the past. The variety of side streets, with names like Whig Street and Pilgrim Road that feed off of Nobscusset Road (named for the original indigenous Nobscussett tribe, part of the Nauset Confederation), harken back to the time of the earliest settlers. Tree-lined streets shade 19th century sea captains homes that peacefully coexist with 20th and 21st century dwellings, all reflecting a commitment to care and upkeep. Bouffant blossoms of hydrangeas in every variety dot the landscape of the summer months, and winter holidays find windows illuminated by candles perched on windowsills.

Anchoring the village for over 90 years are the beautifully manicured grounds of the 23-acre campus of the Cape Cod Center of the Arts, consisting of the Cape Playhouse, the Cape Cinema and the Cape Cod Museum of Art. An evening of entertainment at the Playhouse or Cinema is perfectly capped off by cocktails or a delicious meal at Encore Bistro & Bar, which serves its full menu throughout the year. In the heart and center of the village, the institutions of the past are unquestionably vital today. The Dennis Union Church, built in 1722 and responsible for bringing Reverend Josiah Dennis to settle, stands proudly on a vast village green containing an ancient cemetery that still welcomes current members of the founding families. The grade school used to flank the church, but all that is left is a commemorative bell that acknowledges its former home in the school’s belfry. In the tradition of New England social organization, the firehouse and Dennis Public Library round out the collective of the communal buildings.