is a village or section in the northwest part of the mid-Cape Cod town of Barnstable, Massachusetts
. Once devoted to agricultural pursuits, West Barnstable now is largely residential.
These include six-mile long Sandy Neck Barrier Beach which protects the extensive Great Marshes, the latter a source of salt hay that attracted the first English settlers to the area in the mid-1600s.
Prominent Sons and Daughters
Remarkably, in the 18th century, the village produced four nationally prominent leaders at a time when there were no more than 500 inhabitants. James Otis
the Patriot was the original intellectual leader of the revolutionary movement in Boston in the years leading up to the War of Independence.
His sister, Mercy Otis Warren, also born next to the Great Marshes, became a political activist, one of the first women writers in the country, and a historian of note.
Lemuel Shaw, another native of the village, held the important post of chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court from 1830 to 1860 and earned the reputation of a leading jurist in the nation's formative constitutional history.
The fourth native, Captain John "Mad Jack" Percival, rose to the highest rank in the U.S. Navy, serving in four wars. In late 1844 he saved and restored the U.S. frigate Constitution and then sailed her around the world, the venerable ship's only circumnavigation.
Few if any villages anywhere have contributed proportionately as much to the nation's leadership.
The fully restored 1717 Congregational meetinghouse, West Parish of Barnstable, UCC
, (West Parish Memorial Foundation
) remains a central feature of the village. In the late 1800s and early 1900s a number of Finnish immigrants settled here, and, to this day, the eastern side of the village is known as "Finn Town", while the area near the railroad station is known as "Shark City" because of the card sharks that hung out there. West Barnstable is home to Cape Cod Community College
, the only college on the Cape proper, as well as the Cape Cod Conservatory of Music, Art, Drama & Dancwe, making the place something of the cultural center of the Cape.