Marion is a scenic, small town nestled on the shores of Buzzards Bay, population approximately 5000. Marion’s roots go back to 1679, when the town was first settled as a village known as Sippican, a part of Rochester. Rochester, Mattapoisett and Sippican, widely separate villages under the domain of Rochester, gradually developed different interests and economies. These factors led to independence for Sippican, which was renamed Marion in honor of the Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion, in 1852.
The town retains its New England charm with a village and local General Store, several churches, and municipal buildings all within walking distance of the water and elementary school. Marion also carries a rural flavor that is apparent along the winding roads that lead out of town. Marion is primarily a year-round community with a small influx of seasonal residents in the summer. It is also renowned for its old fashioned estates, many of which still line the shores of Sippican Harbor, and in particular, the Stone Estate, which is open to the public for walking and cycling. Known for boating, beaches, and fishing, Marion’s Sippican Harbor is home to several hundred boats each year. Sailing is a popular pastime and racing can be observed most late afternoons on the outer Harbor.
The local elementary school educates children through grade 6, while the town participates in a regional program for its junior and senior high schools. Tabor Academy calls Marion home and is a premier independent boarding school, grades 9-12.
Wareham is a gem of the Southcoast with over 54 miles of coastline and several distinct areas within. Home to approximately 21,000 people and a large geographic area of over 46 square miles, Wareham is called the “Gateway to the Cape” referring to its status before the Cape Cod Canal was built. Today, Wareham is its own destination for beaches and boating, as well as excellent fishing. It is a diverse community with a history that has been enriched by the Wampanoags, Cape Verdean and Portuguese immigrants, as well as descendants from English settlers who branched out from the early Puritan communities. Wareham boasts waterfront communities on both Buzzards Bay and fresh water ponds, like Onset and White Island Pond. Estate-like holdings along the Great Neck Peninsula and Buttermilk Bay and summer cottage enclaves like Swift’s Beach and Parkwood Beach attest to the variety Wareham offers. Likewise, West Wareham offers substantial tracts of land and agricultural holdings still as well as the legacy of former textile and industrial business. Toby Hospital and the Southcoast Health network provide extensive care options for the area. Industrial parks, boatyards and marinas and a lively hospitality sector are among the business advantages in Wareham. Affordable taxes and home prices have made Wareham a very desirable location for year-round and summer home buyers alike. Long a popular choice for fishing, beaches, boating and sailing, in more recent years, Wareham has also become a popular choice for cycling, kayaking, and hiking and watching great summer baseball from the home team, The Gatemen!
The Town of Mattapoisett was incorporated in 1857, but had previously been a village within the larger town of Rochester. Long a summer settlement for indigenous people, Mattapoisett has plentiful fresh and saltwater resources that currently provide recreation, farming and fishing to locals. The Wampanoag Indians described the harbor and surrounding areas as “Mattapoisett- A place of rest” hence its name when it was incorporated. Mattapoisett was a significant ship building center supporting the fishing and whaling industries in the late 1700 and 1800’s. The late nineteenth century saw an influx of summer residents from nearby New Bedford as well as Boston and New York from which it has grown into its present state.
Today, Mattapoisett is a small New England town with approximately 6300 residents, a mix of summer and year-round residents, and a full range of recereational options for all tastes and skill levels. Mattapoisett is characterized by its many coastal enclaves, like Crescent Beach, Antassawomack, Pease’s Point and Pico Beach and a lovely village area that overlooks the main town harbor. Beloved local landmarks include Ned’s Point Lighthouse, the Town Wharf and Gazebo Park, Nasketucket Preserve, Salty the Seahorse and Tinkham Chapel. There is also a bike trail in Mattapoisett, currently being extended, that links the town to neighboring Fairhaven. There is not significant industry in Mattapoisett and only a single tax rate, but there are nice restaurants, shops and specialty businesses that cater to a variety of needs.
Rochester was named for the town of Rochester, England, from which many of the early English settlers originated. It was incorporated in 1686, and originally included the villages of Rochester and Sippican (Marion). Rochester benefitted from the shipbuilding in Mattapoisett and was primarily a farming and logging community. When the towns of Marion and Mattapoisett separated in the 1850’s, the town became landlocked, but retained ocean access rights in the Town of Marion.
Now with a population of about 5600 residents and 36 square miles of land, the Town adopted a “Right-to-Farm” bylaw in 2021 which “encourages the pursuit of agriculture, promotes agriculture-based economic opportunities, and protects farmlands within the Town of Rochester by allowing agricultural uses and related activities”. Rochester is home to many horse farms from simple backyard facilities, to large training and boarding outfits servicing the competitive equestrian world at large. Miles of trails wind through the woods and bogs of Rochester making it an ideal place for trail riding. Cyclists also love Rochester’s scenic, winding country roads that offer mapped routes connecting to neighboring towns. Motorcyclists also enjoy rides through the meandering roads with their light traffic and open vistas. Rochester is home to Eastover Farms, now a preserved New England farm and horse facility, working farms at Cervelli’s, Jonathon’s Organic Sprouts, and numerous cranberry bogs. In recent years, Rochester has seen a rise in housing starts with small subdivisions offering housing and easy commuter access to owners.
The area that now makes up Fairhaven and New Bedford was purchased from Wampanoag Chief Massasoit in 1652 by a group of colonists from Plymouth. European settlement began about 1659 as a shipbuilding and agricultural center. Fairhaven separated from New Bedford and incorporated in 1812. Fairhaven partook of the whaling and textile industries and wealth of this region in the 1800’s and developed a large village center and working waterfront. Fort Street and surrounding streets boast beautiful examples of 19th century architecture and art. The town further benefited from the philanthropic contributions of Henry H. Rogers, a Standard Oil Company magnate, commissioned and built significant public buildings in a European, Gothic style, unique to Fairhaven.
Today, Fairhaven is still home to a fishing fleet and the many affiliate marine services as well as thriving retail and light industrial businesses, like the famous Brahmin Handbag company. It has a significant seasonal and tourist industry as well, with popular destinations like WIlbur Point, Shaw’s Cove and West Island. Current population is approximately 16,000 in an area of 14 square miles. Fairly densely populated with a large village center, Fairahven does still have some small farm holdings in the inland section of town. Easy access to Routes 195 and 140 make Fairhaven a popular location for commuters and out of town boaters and vacationers alike.
The town of Westport with approximately 16,000 residents and an area of 64 square miles, has always benefited from the East and West forks of the Westport River. Initially fundamental to the town’s ability to develop and support trade with other coastal communities, the Westport River is integral to the area’s coastal character and appeal. Lovely farmstand and open fields dotted with stone walls roll to the shores of the river and deliver one quickly to the eddies and ocean beyond. Now home to vineyards, gourmet eateries and suppliers, nurseries, small farms and a thriving art community, Westport is a popular vacation destination. Horse Neck Beach, a State Park with facilities, is also an important recreational draw to the town. Westport was so named because it was the westernmost port in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It was first settled by English colonists in 1670 as a part of the Town of Dartmouth and separated to become its own town in 1787. Westport was a significant part of the disputed territory in King Phillip’s War (1675-1678) ,the first war between Wampanoags and English settlers, Westport figured as an important agricultural and trading outpost.
Dartmouth, or Olde Dartmouth as it was originally called by English settlers, once encompassed the communities now known as Westport, Dartmouth, New Bedford and Fairhaven. It is still the largest town in the Southcoast area, with approximately 97 square miles. Central to New England’s Southcoast, a chain of historic coastal villages, vineyards, and farms, Dartmouth is home to many historic summer communities, like Salter’s Point and Nonquitt, as well as sprawling farms and seaside settlements, like Padanaram Village. Dartmouth is also home to one of the state university’s flagship campuses, UMASS Dartmouth. Dartmouth has a diverse population and continues to be a point of resettlement for families from New Bedford looking to move to a more rural area. Housing starts in Dartmouth are at steady levels and the housing stock ranges widely to accommodate varying budgets and tastes. Dartmouth asl has a rich tapestry of historic holdings that dot the countryside and is one of the few towns in which a holding can be purchased that preserves the original rural character of the site. Many artists and artisans call Dartmouth home in a long tradition of cultural pursuits that continue to bring talent and investment to the town. Dartmouth enjoys miles of beaches, the Slocum River and a sheltered harbor that enhance the community’s recreational and conservation amenities.
New Bedford is a coastal city of approximately 100,000 people, and is the county seat for Bristol County. It is an historically significant city regarding its development as a whaling port in the 1800’s, and a textile giant in the early 1900’s. It is a city that was funded primarily by Quakers and also has a history of tolerance and diverse populations settling from the whaling and shipbuilding trades. Today, New Bedford boasts beautiful, unspoiled architecture from its heyday, an active and working waterfront as the largest fishing power in the country, extensive public beaches and parks, ferry terminal servicing Martha’s VIneyard and Nantucket, and the nationally acclaimed Whaling Museum. Known as the Whaling City, New Bedford is replete with period buildings, references and entertainment The city is currently experiencing a small renaissance as low property costs, the promise of a working train line to Boston (2023) and numerous restaurants, music and art venues combine to bring new life to this old city. Significant immigrant populations from the Azores, Portugal, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico and the Islands give New Bedford a wonderful ethnic flair mixing with the older settlers of French-Canadian, Cape Verde, English, Portuguese and free African backgrounds.
New Bedford is home to a Symphony Orchestra, the Zeiterion Theater, UMASS Dartmouth’s College of Fine Arts, and the Buttonwood Park Zoo, a small breeding zoo featuring native and domestic, heritage animals of North America. Fort Taber is a national park that straddles the southernmost point of New Bedford. Also, New Bedford Harbor is protected by a hurricane barrier and sea gates to keep the fishing fleet and recreational boats safe during the worst of weather. The lighthouse is a landmark that has greeted whalers, fishermen, merchants and pleasure craft alike for centuries.