Bass River Lighthouse (West Dennis Light)
The Bass River Lighthouse, (also known as West Dennis Light)now the Lighthouse Inn, has had many additions over the years. It barely resembles the same building that was built in 1855. Only the lantern on the roof remains familiar.
For years prior to the building of the lighthouse, Warren Crowell kept a lantern burning in the attic window of his house at Wrinkle Point to help mariners navigate in the vicinity of the mouth of the Bass River. Oil for his lantern was paid for by ship captains who each donated 25 cents a month.
In 1850, West Dennis finally got a real lighthouse. Building materials for the Bass River lighthouse were hauled by oxen across the marshes and when the lighthouse was finished, Warren Crowell deservedly became the first keeper.
In 1880, Bass River Light was discontinued and sold at auction after the lighting of Stage Harbor Light in Chatham. Six months later, complaints caused the government to buy the lighthouse back and relight it in 1881.
The government considered the lighthouse unnecessary with the completion of the Cape Cod Canal and the installation of an automatic beacon, (the Bass River West Jetty Light at the entrance to the Bass River). It was extinguished in 1914 and its fourth order Fresnel lens was removed.
The property was sold at auction. The buyer, Harry K. Noyes used it as a summer residence for a while. He expanded the main house and added several new buildings.
After Noyes's death, the property was left empty for five years until 1938 when it was bought by State Senator Everett Stone. The Stones began to have overnight guests at the lighthouse and it became so popular that they soon opened it as the Lighthouse Inn.
For years, Senator Stone found it difficult to return to the inn when coming back from Nantucket or Martha's Vineyard, since the small navigation lights blended with other lights on the shore. He convinced the Coast Guard that a relighted Bass River lighthouse would provide a needed service to local boaters.
In 1989, the Stone family had their lighthouse relighted as a private aid to navigation, with a 300 mm optic providing a white flashing light. The relighting took place on National Lighthouse Day, the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Lighthouse Service.
The light, officially named the West Dennis Light, now operates each summer.
For many years the Lighthouse Inn has been a beacon to mariners and travelers, and it now also serves as a beacon for education. There is a program that enables local third-grade schoolchildren to tour the inn and lighthouse as part of a school study on maritime history.
If you stay at the inn, you might also be able to arrange a tour of the lighthouse and lantern room.
To get to West Dennis Light:
Follow Route 6 East to Exit 8 (Dennis)
Take a right off exit onto Station Avenue; follow until third set of lights.
At third set of lights, turn left onto Route 28.
Approximately one mile on right will be a Bay State Auto; take a right there onto School Street.
Follow School Street for a half mile, turn right onto Lighthouse Road.
Follow Lighthouse Road for 2/10 of a mile, turn left onto Lighthouse Inn Road.
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