June 2018 marked the 80th anniversary of Lighthouse Inn! However, our Bass River Light is 159 years old!
In 1850, the federal government appropriated $4000 to build a lighthouse near the breakwater at the mouth of the Bass River. Although an officer of the Marine Revenue reported that a light was unnecessary, the plans were carried through because the captains of the ships had been putting in 25 cents per month of their own money to buy kerosene for a lantern that was placed on Wrinkle Point in West Dennis. In 1854, construction began on the light and the keepers home. Oxen were used to drag the materials over the salt marshes and dunes.
The light was lit on May 1, 1855, and continued in service until 1880, when the Lighthouse Service decided the Bass River Light was no longer necessary since a new light had been built at Stage Harbor in Chatham. One year later, the government changed its mind and decided to relight the Bass River Light. The light continued to serve seafarers until 1914, when it was decommissioned after the Cape Cod Canal opened.
After being sold at auction in 1917, the Lighthouse property was purchased by Harry Noyes of the Noyes Buick Company in Boston. Noyes enlarged the Main House, built several buildings, and landscaped the grounds. After his death in 1933, the property was on the market for five years until Everett Stone – – at the urging of his wife Gladys – – purchased the Lighthouse property. Their son Robert helped by putting in $1000 inherited from his grandparents.
Everett was a developer from Auburn, Massachusetts. He planned to develop the land and sell it. But the papers on the Lighthouse were passed too late in June to begin any construction, so Gladys Stone decided to take in overnight guests to help pay the mortgage. So many of the 1938 guests asked to return, the Stones changed their mind about developing the land and thus began Lighthouse Inn.
Since there were very few restaurants nearby, in 1939, Gladys and Everett decided their son Bob would run the dining room for the Lighthouse. Bob hired three waitresses from Wheaton College, including Mary Packard. Bob and Mary were married in 1942, starting the tradition of family operation of the Inn.
After the death of Everett Stone in 1947, Bob, Mary and Gladys continued to run the Lighthouse over the next three decades. After Gladys retired, Bob and Mary continued to run the Inn while raising five children at the Lighthouse – Betty Anne, Deborah, Barbara, Jonathan and Gregory, all of whom have worked at the Inn at one time or another in various capacities.
After being dark for 75 years, the light was relit on August 7, 1989, in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of the U.S. Lighthouse Service which is now the U.S. Coast Guard. The light, which is a one-second flash every six seconds is now recognized by the Coast Guard as the West Dennis Light and also as the only privately owned, privately maintained working lighthouse in the country.
2004 saw the passing of Robert Stone at age 86 and Mary joined him in 2016 at the age of 95. By 2004, Bob and Mary had both retired and the reins to the Inn had passed to Greg and his wife, Patricia, who started at the Inn in the late ‘70’s as the Children’s Director. Together they now manage the day-to-day operations of the Inn as the third generation of the Stone Family continuing the tradition of the family run business.
Download the Light history booklet
Full Timeline of the West Dennis Light and Lighthouse Inn, here
Solar Energy Status:
- Massachusetts Lodging Association (MLA)
- New England Inns and Resorts Association (NEIRA)
- Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT)
- American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA)