Cape Cod’s Bass River Light

Bass River Light

By Mary Moran

Bass River light, also known as the West Dennis Light, is located on the eastern side of Bass River in the Cape Cod town of Dennis. Dennis sits next to the waters of Nantucket Sound. Dennis became a prosperous fishing town in the 19th century. At that time there was a salt works right in the center of town and a variety of facilities for the construction of small boats. Before the lighthouse was built, a local man by the name of Warren Crowell created his own “lighthouse” to help captains navigate the area. He did this by placing a lamp in the attic window of his home. Local captains would donate money to Crowell on a monthly basis to help provide funds for the cost of the oil that kept the lamp burning. Eventually, it was decided that the small lamp in Crowell’s attic was no longer sufficient to guide vessels safely, because the  traffic in the local waters had begun to increase significantly. In 1854, the land was purchased for a real lighthouse and on April 30, 1855, the Bass River Light went into service. The Bass River Light’s lantern was placed on top of the newly built, two-story keeper’s house. The structure was 44 feet tall and displayed a continuous white light out of its fifth-order Fresnel lens. The person assigned to the duty of being the first lighthouse keeper was none other than Warren Crowell himself. He remained at his post until 1863, when he went to fight in the Civil War. In combat, he was taken prisoner in Virginia after being injured and finally returned to the lighthouse in the 1870’s. Unfortunately, need for the lighthouse decreased after both the opening of the Cape Cod Canal and the placement of an automatic light on the west side of Bass River. The Bass River light was ultimately deemed unnecessary and was put out on June 15, 1914. After the light was dark at Bass River, the property was sold at auction to a Mr. Harry K. Noyes. Noyes used the keeper’s house as a seasonal home and expanded the property greatly. Then, in 1938, the property was purchased by State Senator Everett Stone and his wife Gladys. The couple decided to turn the home into an Inn where they could entertain friends, family and vacationers alike. Guests could rent a room for a night or two. One night’s stay at the Inn, including all meals, was only $5 dollars! As the years went on, the business continued to grow. To this day the Stone family owns the Bass River Lighthouse and its property. It is now a fully functioning Inn and restaurant. It is open seasonally from spring to fall with a large summer staff of around ninety employees. The Stone family also took the initiative to relight the famous lighthouse in 1989. Each year, from August 7th – National Lighthouse Day, you can still see the flashing white light shining from the 300 mm optic lens in the Bass River tower. It serves as a seasonal aid to navigation. This charming lighthouse and restaurant is about an hour’s drive east of  the Palmer House Inn.


Cape Cod's Stowe Room, A

Harriet Beecher Stowe room

Cape Cod's Roosevelt Room, B

Cape Cod’s Roosevelt Room, B

While all of the bedchambers at the Palmer House have their own romantic charm suitable for relaxation after the most wonderful day of adventures on Cape Cod, we recommend the Harriet Beecher Stowe room, the Theodore Roosevelt room or the Emily Dickinson room. These rooms feature comfortable king beds, fireplaces, jetted tubs for a relaxing stay before and after your day.

Mary Moran is a Falmouth native and knowledgeable about Cape Cod. In addition to writing for the Palmer House Inn, she’s also frequently at the inn and available  to answer quest’s questions. She enjoys reading, hiking, and spending time exploring Falmouth’s coastal waterways.