Calling All Volunteers: Like a little physical activity after a long winter’s rest. Please join your neighbors in sprucing up the Pocket Park and Bocce Courts on the Village Green in beautiful downtown Dennis Port this Thursday at 9 a.m. Report to the Pocket Park with your favorite garden gloves and garden tools. This is a great opportunity to get a little dirty and burn some calories. The best part is that at the end of the clean-up you will have a great sense of satisfaction and self-esteem and it’s free !!! Please join the Dennis Port Revitalization Committee and the Garden Club of Dennis in beautifying the downtown area. If you have a wheelbarrow it would be greatly appreciated if you could bring it. We will be putting down mulch and some stone dust on the walkways.
The author of the below paper has given me permission to share his research on the Dennis Port Revitalization website. I did not include the 33 reference materials that he used to back up his research. A great deal of research went into this paper.
Even though the Dennis Historical Commission, the Federal Government, the Town of Dennis, the majority of the internet searches and the Dennis Port Revitalization Committee recognize the correct spelling as Dennis Port, the controversy over the spelling will continue into the future.
The author also requested that this paper does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the DPRC and that the paper is not an “official history.”
We hope everyone enjoys this article and appreciates the time and effort that Mr. Berry put into this paper.
ON THE NAMING OF DENNIS PORT
For more than a century a controversy has existed over the spelling of the village of Dennis Port, some insisting that the correct spelling is “Dennisport.” This report will attempt to provide an explanation of how the controversy came about and suggest a resolution.
The village of Dennis Port is located in the southeast corner of the Town of Dennis and was formerly known as Crocker’s Neck. Its first postmaster, Thomas Howes, renamed it “Dennis Port” in 1862. Howes used a two-word spelling that was followed by the History of Cape Cod published in 1862, the List of Post Offices published in 1870, Geo. H. Walker’s Map of Massachusetts published in 1879, and the History of Barnstable County published in 1890.
In 1880 George H. Walker & Co. published the Atlas of Barnstable County which spelled Dennis Port as “Dennisport.” It is not clear why the company made the change since it had recently used “Dennis Port” in the 1879 map referred to in the previous paragraph. Perhaps the change was merely a cartographer’s whim. The popularity of this atlas may have encouraged the use of a one-word spelling. However, a more likely explanation was soon to come out of Washington.
In 1890 President Benjamin Harrison created the Board on Geographic Names. Its mission was to decide “all unsettled questions concerning geographic names which arise in the [Executive] Departments.” Only when the Board made a specific order regarding a specific name were its decisions controlling, but a decision was “to be accepted by these Departments as the standard authority in such matters.”
The following year the Board issued a report which set forth thirteen “guiding principles.” The first principle “was by far the most important”:“that “spelling and pronunciation which is sanctioned by local usage should in general be adopted.” However, the principles also provided: “In the case of names consisting of more than one word, it is desirable to combine them into one word.” The Board emphasized that these were not rules, but only “guiding principles from which the Board reserves liberty to depart whenever, in its judgment, it deems it advisable to do so.”
The Postmaster-General at the time was John Wanamaker, a farsighted Philadelphia merchant who had created the first modern department store. Wanamaker emphasized efficiency and innovation in his business dealings and brought those principles to Washington. He introduced street-car post offices and pneumatic tubes in cities to better move the mail, and issued the first commemorative stamps to increase post office revenue.
One of Wanamaker’s concerns was the standardization of post office names. In 1891, he ordered “that the forms of spelling the names of Post Offices, decided upon the said U.S. Board on Geographic Names shall be observed in all branches of this Department.” The following year he ordered that the name of a new post office should be the same as the town or village where it was located, and “that, whenever it be possible, single and not compound words be selected for names of post-offices.”
A further order regarding post office names were made by, Wilson S. Bissell, Postmaster General under President Cleveland, in 1894. Bissell ordered that with respect to a new post office, “only short names or names of one word will be accepted.” This order was published in the May 1894 issue of the United States Official Postal Guide along with additional instructions from the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General, who, at some point had been made responsible for establishing post offices. His instructions stated that certain prefixes and additions, including “Port,” were “objectionable” as they were “liable to lead to confusion and delay in the transmission of the mail.”
When applied to Dennis Port, these orders and instructions were perhaps ambiguous and confusing. The Board on Geographic Names had never specifically directed that “Dennis Port” be changed to “Dennisport.” Moreover, the Dennis Port post office was not “new” and it bore the two-word name the community had commonly used for decades. Arguably it was not “possible” to combine its name into one word.
This ambiguity is reflected in the lists of post offices found in The United States Official Postal Guides between 1894 and 1905. While the Guide for 1894 lists “Dennis Port,” the Guides between 1895 and 1904 list “Dennisport.” However, the Guide for 1905 reverts to “Dennis Port.” Therefore, between 1895 and 1904 the post office in Dennis Port was officially known by the Post Office Department as “Dennisport” but after 1905 as “Dennis Port.”
“Dennis Port” and “Dennisport” were both used in documents appearing after 1890. The atlas of Barnstable County published in 1909 refers to “Dennisport,” as does a map in the 1916 issue of “Cape Cod Magazine” and a 1956 article in the Cape Cod Standard Times. Authors of popular mid-twentieth century books including Cape Cod Pilot, Cape Cod Ahoy!, Cape Cod’s Way, and And This is Cape Cod opted for “Dennisport.” The Secretary of the Commonwealth currently lists four businesses using “Dennis Port” and sixteen using “Dennisport.”
Some early 20th Century postcards show scenes in “Dennisport,” although one of these cards is postmarked “Dennis Port.” A postcard shows the “Dennisport Post Office” even though the picture of the post office includes a hanging sign reading “U.S. Post Office Dennis Port.” What appears to be a more recent post card shows the post office with a roof sign that uses the one-word spelling.
In 1934 the United States Geographic Board, the successor to the Board on Geographic Names, was abolished and its duties transferred to the Department of the Interior. In 1947 Congress created the Board on Geographic Names (USBG), whose purpose was “to decide the standard [geographic] names and their orthography for official use . . . for all material published by the Federal Government.” The USBG lists “Dennis Port” on its web site and does not list “Dennisport.” Therefore, it appears that the USBG has determined that approved name of Dennis Port is “Dennis Port.” Section 123.411 of the Postal Operation Manual provides that “[a] Post Office located in an unincorporated place should generally bear the approved name of the principal community served.” Therefore, for federal purposes “Dennis Port” is correct.
According to a blog by the Dennis Port Revitalization Committee and an article in the Cape Cod Times, the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Dennis unanimously voted on February 18, 2014 to retire “Dennisport” and recognize “Dennis Port” as the correct spelling. If that were the case, there would be no doubt that for Dennis governmental purposes, Dennis Port would be correct. However, although the video of the meeting shows the Board voting to “officially name Dennis Port two words,” the minutes of the Board of Selectmen which are the official record of the meeting do not refer to any such vote.
Therefore, apart from the mandated use of “Dennis Port” within the federal agencies, there appears to be no official spelling of the village name. There is no need, apart from consistency with federal practice, for a business in Dennis Port that uses “Dennisport” to change to “Dennis Port.” I suspect that villagers will receive their mail regardless of whether their address uses one word or two. Both usages have many precedents, and no particular usage for general purposes is mandated by law or custom.
Dana A. Berry
March 26, 2018
Just received official confirmation that the site of the old BZ’s will be the new home of a new American Neopolitan style pizza restaurant. The owner of the Red Nun, Mike Giorgio, completed the sale last week. Renovations are getting underway for a Memorial Day Grand Opening. When the new menu is ready I will post it. Congratulations and welcome to Downtown Dennis Port !!
In probably one of the fastest Town Meetings in recent memory, Article 17 was put to a quick vote and needed a 2/3rds majority. I’m happy to say after a long 7 year battle, with the Dennis Port Revitalization Committee advocating for an increase in the length of stay for SRC owners, the bylaw was changed tonight to allow Seasonal Resort Communities to stay open until Dec. 31st. The vote was 294 in favor and 46 opposed. That gives the owners an additional 8 weeks to spend in Dennis Port. You can read the entire bylaw in a previous article. This was a win for the owners, a win for the Town of Dennis and a win for Dennis Port.
On behalf of the DPRC, both present and past members, a big Thank You to everyone who turned out and voted Yes for Article 17 tonight. Also, Congratulations to the Dennis Fire Dept. on the approved funding for 8 new firefighters.
The Dennis Port Revitalization Committee ( DPRC ) has voted unanimously to extend the time frame for Seasonal Resort Community ( SRC ) on a citizen’s petition. This By-Law change to Section 12.6 has been discussed for over 5 years. The time for the extension to the By-Law is now. We urge the voters attending the Oct. 18, 2017 Town Meeting to vote YES on Article 17.
There is no burden to the infrastructure of the Town or the Village of Dennis Port. At this time we are only talking about one ( Heritage Sands ) of the six SRC’s in Dennis and 5 are located in Dennis Port on Old Wharf Rd. Heritage Sands at the moment is the only SRC that meets the requirements and can get an occupancy permit for the off season.
Heritage Sands is also the only SRC to meet the DEP mandate to upgrade their septic system. It remains to be seen how the other 5 SRC’s address the DEP mandate. There are a total of 63 units in Heritage Sands. How many units that would take advantage of the extension is unknown at this time. Every person that we can get to support the local businesses and restaurants in the off season is beneficial to the Town with the additional meal tax. Hopefully some Holiday shopping will take place at the local downtown businesses and help our merchants survive the off season.
The charge to the DPRC from the Town is to work with developers, business owners and landlords to improve the economic conditions of Dennis Port. The extension can only benefit the downtown and surrounding areas of Dennis Port. At a time when Benny’s is closing and the Speedway gas station at the western end of the downtown area is scheduled to close on Nov. 1st. and we have a closed, empty gas station as a landmark to the eastern gateway to the Town and the Village we can use all the help we can get.
The attached Article 17 is pretty self explanatory. If you have any questions feel free to ask by commenting on our Facebook Page or email me at email@example.com
Follow the latest updates on our Facebook Page……Dennis Port Revitalization
We need your YES vote to continue the progress and improvements to Dennis Port.
To check on the photographic progress of the Mural in the Pocket Park, go to our Facebook page @ Dennis Port Revitalization. Search under community organization. The finished mural will be over a hundred feet long and 10′ high. Each letter in the word Dennis Port will contain multiple historic scenes of Dennis Port going back to the 1800’s. Upon completion there will be a key describing each scene in every letter of Dennis Port.
Hans and 2 students, Jack & Brandon, have officially started the mural today, Tuesday Aug. 22, 2017. Hans is looking at completing the mural by the end of September. He will primarily be working early mornings and late afternoons depending on weather, temperature and location of the sun. The more shade the better and no rain in the forecast.
This is going to be quite different and more complicated from the 2 previous murals. I will be posting weekly updates with photos. If you are downtown and we certainly hope you are, walk through the Pocket Park and offer your encouragement to Hans and his students, if he is not working on the mural, stop by his gallery next to Aunties Ice Cream Parlor and maybe he will give you a sneak peek of what the finished mural will look like.
Mark Your calendar and call your friends. Next Saturday night, Aug. 26, 2017 is the Fireworks off of West Dennis Beach at 8:30.
Next Sunday will be the annual Antique Car Parade, but it will be an hour earlier this year. Find a great viewing area anywhere along Old Wharf Rd. and get there by 11:05 a.m. The parade will be leaving West Dennis Beach at 11:00 a.m. turn right onto Lower County and then left onto Old Wharf Rd. See the below info…
59Th ANNUAL DENNIS ANTIQUE CAR PARADE
Posted on August 15, 2017 by Dennis Chamber
Sunday, August 27. 2017
Click Here For Registration Form
Our 59th Annual Antique Car parade will step off at 11:00 am this year, the 4th Sunday in August the 27th, we will wind our way along the beaches as usual but then loop back on lower county to Trotting Park and follow all the way to Old Bass River Rd and end at the Cape Cod Play House, as we did in days of old!!
There will be plenty of parking at the play house and there are many restaurants and business within walking distance for you to enjoy.
All American Town of Dennis Fireworks
Parking Lot opens at 5PM. Festivities begin at 6PM
with BONFIRE and LIVE MUSIC by That 80s Band Party.
Raffle drawn at 8PM. Shirts will sell out!
Concession stand will be open.
Fireworks go off at 8:30
A couple of updates since yesterday. The lining is being applied to the courts at Sea View and if the weather holds up and it doesn’t rain, they will get all the lining done today and will put up the nets !!!
The prep work was finished this morning on the mural wall with the windows being blocked out and made even with the wall.
DPW is painting the fence in front of Mike Stacy Park and the Village Green.
The Bocce courts are getting cleaned up for fall play.
The Port is always striving to better itself for its residents, visitors and vacationers.
The Committee will work independently and with professional assistance to identify the needs and mechanisms to strengthen the area economy, revitalize the village and enhance the quality of life in Dennisport Village.