|— Town —|
The Josiah Dennis Manse
Location in Barnstable County in Massachusetts
|- Type||Open town meeting|
| - Town
|- Total||22.2 sq mi (57.6 km2)|
|- Land||20.6 sq mi (53.4 km2)|
|- Water||1.6 sq mi (4.2 km2)|
|Elevation||24 ft (7 m)|
|- Density||775.6/sq mi (299.5/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|- Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|Area code(s)||508 / 774|
|GNIS feature ID||0618252|
Dennis was first settled in 1639, by John Crowe (later Crowell) and Thomas Howes, as part of the town of Yarmouth. The town officially separated and incorporated in 1793. It was named after resident minister, Josiah Dennis. There was not enough land for farming, so seafaring became the town's major industry in its early history, centered around the Shiverick Shipyard.
Currently, Dennis is a popular seaside resort town, notable for its stately colonial mansions along the northern Cape Cod Bay coastline, and its picturesque, warm water beaches along the southern Nantucket Sound.
The Cape Playhouse, in northern Dennis, is the oldest summer theatre in the United States, and among the best known. The actress Bette Davis was 'discovered' there while working there as an usher. Other famous Dennis residents include the author Mary Higgins Clark and actress Amy Jo Johnson, who grew up in Dennis.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 22.2 square miles (57 km2), of which, 20.6 square miles (53 km2) of it is land and 1.6 square miles (4.1 km2) of it (7.38%) is water.
Dennis spans the width of Cape Cod, with Cape Cod Bay to the north, Brewster to the northeast, Harwich to the southeast, Nantucket Sound to the south, and Yarmouth to the west. The town is about ten miles east of Barnstable, twenty-four miles east of the Sagamore Bridge, and seventy-eight miles southeast of Boston. The Town of Dennis comprises the villages of Dennis Port, Dennis Village (North Dennis), East Dennis, South Dennis and West Dennis.
The town lies on the eastern banks of the Bass River, which nearly divides the cape in half. There are several small ponds and lakes in town, as well as Sesuit Harbor to the north and West Dennis Harbor to the south. The area of Scargo Lake and Scargo Hill in Dennis are associated with Ancient Native American folklore. The Legend of the Lake's creation was the inspiration for a Children's Book and an American Folklore tale, the "Legend of Scargo". When viewed from the tower atop Scargo Hill, Scargo lake appears to be in the shape of a fish.
Both the north and south shores have many beaches, as well as the Dennis Yacht Club in the north and West Dennis Yacht Club in the south.
While West Dennis is indeed West of Dennisport, it is South of South Dennis. East Dennis is North of South Dennis, and Dennis is on the Western shore, to the West of East Dennis.
Dennis is known for high-quality ice cream. The most famous location is Smugglers, which is known for its raspberry chip sundaes.
All the public beaches in Dennis are owned by the town. The Northside Beaches are located on Cape Cod Bay, while Southside Beaches are located on Nantucket Sound. Some of them have different names for different entrances. On the Northside, Corporation Beach and Howes Street Beach are on the same strip of public beach. The same goes for Mayflower Beach and Bayview* Beach, and Cold Storage* Beach and Sea Street Beach. Chapin Beach and Harborview* Beach are not paired with any other. On the Northside, the town also owns two beaches on Scargo Lake which are Scargo Beach and Princess Beach.
Southside Beaches Include: Glendon Beach, Haigis Beach, Inman Road Beach, Maycroft Beach, Metcalfe Memorial Beach, West Dennis Beach, South Village Beach
All the public beaches in Dennis are free to walk on. However, every beach (except those with a *) charges a non-resident parking fee of $15 per day. Residents (Dennis taxpayers) can buy beach parking stickers with proof of residency for $30 for the season. Resident-only beaches*. Non-residents cannot park here. (Of course in the winter, nobody checks for beach stickers)
Dennis is crossed from east to west by Cape Cod's three main routes, U.S. Route 6, Route 6A and Route 28, as well as Route 134, which crosses the town from Route 28 to Route 6A. East of the Route 134 exit, Route 6 (also known as the Mid-Cape Highway) downgrades from a four lane divided highway to a two lane highway, divided only by markers.
The Cape's Bay Colony Rail officially ends in the town. The ending point is also the starting point of the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a bicycle trail which runs "down" the Cape to Wellfleet along the former right-of-way of the rail. There are also several other bicycle trails in town. The nearest regional air service can be reached at the Barnstable Municipal Airport, and the nearest national and international air service can be reached at Logan International Airport in Boston.
As of the census of 2000, there were 15,973 people, 7,504 households, and 4,577 families residing in the town. The population density was 775.6 inhabitants per square mile (299.5 /km2). There were 14,105 housing units at an average density of 684.9 per square mile (264.4 /km2). The racial makeup of the town was 94.99% White, 1.93% Black or African American, 0.37% Native American, 0.37% Asian, 0.88% from other races, and 1.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.65% of the population.
There were 7,504 households out of which 18.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.0% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.0% were non-families. 33.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.11 and the average family size was 2.65.
In the town the population was spread out with 16.9% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 22.2% from 25 to 44, 27.8% from 45 to 64, and 28.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 49 years. For every 100 females there were 85.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $41,598, and the median income for a family was $50,478. Males had a median income of $40,528 versus $29,153 for females. The per capita income for the town was $25,428. About 5.4% of families and 7.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.4% of those under age 18 and 4.8% of those age 65 or over.
Dennis is represented in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a part of the First Barnstable Districts. The town is represented in the Massachusetts Senate as a part of the Cape and Islands Districts, which includes all of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket except the towns of Bourne, Falmouth, Sandwich and a portion of Barnstable. The town is patrolled by the Second (Yarmouth) Barracks of Troop D of the Massachusetts State Police.
On the national level, Dennis is a part of Massachusetts's 10th congressional district, and is currently represented by Bill Delahunt. The state's senior (Class I) member of the United States Senate, re-elected in 2008, is John Kerry. The junior (Class II) Senator, appointed in 2009, is Paul G. Kirk.
The town of Dennis uses the open town meeting form of government, and is led by an executive secretary and a board of selectmen. The town has its own police department, and a fire department headquartered near the intersection of Routes 28 and 134 with a branch station off of Route 6A. There are post offices in each of the five villages, as are the town's libraries. The central library is located in Dennis Port, and all are a part of the Cape Libraries Automated Materials Sharing (CLAMS) network. The town operates its own landfill, located southeast of the junction of Routes 6 and 134.
Dennis shares its school system with Yarmouth to form the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District. The town itself operates the Ezra H. Baker School, which serves students from pre-kindergarten through third grade, and the Nathaniel H. Wixon Middle School, which serves grades 4 to 8. High school students attend Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School in Yarmouth. Students are not officially contracted to any vocational high schools; private schools can be found in each of the neighboring towns.
Notable current and former residents of Dennis include: