Town Profiles (Listed Alphabetically)


Originally an agricultural community embracing the headwaters of the Acushnet River, the residential town of Acushnet has retained its rural atmosphere while also providing a home for various industries. Through the 1800s, the town was the site of water-powered factories and boat yards; now the town hosts construction, manufacturing and agri/aquaculture industries. It is the original home of the Titleist golf ball.

Acushnet is a quiet, friendly community with many miles of winding, country roads. Residents take great pride in the town's schools, openness and feeling of family. Each fall, during the well known Apple/Peach Festival, Acushnet's growers, artisans and Historical Society welcome visitors from far and wide.

The notably stony soil of Berkley did not discourage the early settlers of the community who did some shipbuilding but essentially concentrated on agriculture. The town is still rural in character, and has retained much of its 18th century landscape.

Berkley was a well known Indian settlement area because of the rich shellfish and water fowl resources to be found there. These and the woodlands in the town also drew the first European settlers. But the town was abandoned by residents because of its vulnerability to Indian or French attack at the outbreak of King Philip's war, when townspeople sought shelter and safety in Taunton. These wars delayed development of the community, as did the lack of water power to fuel the industrial mills of Colonial times. However, there were sufficient clay deposits to stimulate a small pottery industry for a time.

Still a small, rural community, Berkley is well loved by its residents for its peacefulness and its reminders of the past, among which is the Berkley-Dighton Bridge, possibly the oldest swing span bridge in the state.

Southeastern Massachusetts, bordered by Dighton on the west, Taunton on the north, Lakeville on the east, and Freetown on the south. Berkley is 12 miles north of Fall River; 42 miles south of Boston; 21 miles east of Providence, Rhode Island; and 198 miles from New York.

Narrative compiled by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

Dartmouth (Including North Dartmouth, South Dartmouth, Round Hill, Nonquitt, Salters Point, Russells Mills Village and Hixville)

The Town of Dartmouth is unusual in exemplifying from its earliest history the tension between the established Calvinist Puritan religion and those who wished to worship in their own way. In 1652, Massasoit, Chief Sachem of the Wampanoag Federation, sold the land covering Dartmouth and 4 other present towns, to elders of the Plymouth Colony, including Miles Standish, John Alden, and Governor William Bradford. These early real estate speculators then sold the land off in smaller parcels, primarily to religious dissidents, Quakers and Baptists, who were seeking refuge on what was then the frontier from the religious persecutions being launched both by the Massachusetts Bay and Plymouth Bay Colonies. The town, named after an English port, was incorporated in 1664 but refused consistently to pay the "minister's tax" which was levied on all communities to support Puritan clergy. The community grew quickly, attracting many who disagreed with the establishment and many more who sought work in agriculture, salt making and fishing.

Dartmouth has remained through most of its history a rural agricultural community but began adopting a summer residential and resort character in the 19th century as wealthy and near-wealthy city dwellers from New Bedford built and purchased vacation homes. Although Dartmouth is now primarily a suburban bedroom community, the town came into the 20th century with significant portions of its historic character intact; there is still farming in Dartmouth and is still a strong vacation component, especially in South Dartmouth in areas such as Padanaram, Round Hill, Nonquitt, Salters Point and Mishaum Point. The construction of Southern Massachusetts University in the 1960's accelerated the town's growth in residential development. Areas of Dartmouth are rich in colonial, Federal and Greek revival architecture and some rural areas are left, although under pressure from housing development. Residents are proud of the fact that in Dartmouth the past and present co-exist: the past in its farms, churches, villages and scenic rural roads and the present in Route 6 commercial development, the North Dartmouth Mall and emerging industrial policies. *


The Town of Fairhaven is a suburban/fishing/resort community on Buzzard's Bay. The town suffered both material damage and loss of life during the raids and battles of King Philip's war and significant settlement took place only after the war. Until the middle of the 18th century, the town's economy was agricultural. Beyond that point there is a shift toward maritime activities such as shipbuilding, whaling and foreign trade focusing on the town's wharves. By 1838, Fairhaven was the second busiest whaling port in the country and at its peak the town boasted 46 ships and 1,324 men engaged in bringing back over $600,000 worth of whale products annually. Discovery of oil in Pennsylvania coming on the heels of a national depression ended whaling and the town turned to such industries as tack making. In 1903, the American Tack Company's new plant was said to be the largest and best tack mill in the world. Prominent Fairhaven resident Henry Huttleston Rogers went to Pennsylvania to learn about the oil industry and after making himself an oil millionaire, Rogers re-made his home town. He donated the town hall, library, church, schools, streets and water system. The buildings make up the state's finest collection of public buildings, almost all designed by Boston architect Charles Brigham. The community began taking on the character of a suburban town in the late 1870's when the street railway connected Fairhaven to New Bedford. At the same time Fairhaven began to develop as a summer resort area with significant rural areas still the site of working farms. *

Freetown (Including the Village of Assonet)

The Town of Freetown is a pastoral community in Bristol County with a small summer colony and a maritime history. The town's early economy was based mostly on agriculture, but the water power of the Assonet River eventually brought grist, saw and fulling mills after 1695 and in the 18th century the town's industries included a tannery. One of the state's first trout hatcheries was established in Freetown, and in the 1870's railroad dining cars and the luxurious dining rooms of ocean liners were serving Freetown trout. Freetown's position at the head of a tidewater made it the closest port to the iron-producing towns of Middleborough and Lakeville, encouraging iron foundries and nails works as well as shipyards. The shipyards built sloops and schooners, some of which probably then worked the coastal or foreign trade routes and brought their cargoes back to the busy wharves of Freetown. By the 19th century, iron ore came up the Assonet and into Freetown's wharves primarily from New Jersey. From the wharves the iron went to the factories in town making machine castings for textile machinery, a significant component of Freetown's industrial product at that time. The last ship was launched in Freetown in 1848, when the demand for larger ships outgrew the depth of the Assonet River and the extension of the railroads killed off coastal freighting. Residents of the town turned to small market gardening, dairy production and lumbering and by the end of the century, much of the land that had been farmed was returning to forest as Freetown regained some of its pre-Colonial rural landscape. Residents are very proud of the town's Colonial history, pointing out that the first company of militia was formed in Freetown in 1683 and that three companies of Minute Men turned out on April 19, 1775 for the Battle of Lexington and then served honorably and well with the Continental Army. *


Marion is a delightful residential town, felt by its residents to have rare natural beauty and charm. The small town character, blended with the flavor and benefits of a seacoast community with lovely residential neighborhoods and modern conveniences, makes Marion an ideal town for year round living. Recreation opportunities are plentiful and Sippican Harbor hosts a variety of waterfront programs, including swimming at the town beaches, pleasure boating and fishing. There are golf courses and indoor and outdoor tennis courts, while Tabor Academy periodically opens up its hockey rink to the public.

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. Today it has a stable year round population with a moderate summertime increase. Over the years, the heterogeneous population has worked hard to preserve Marion's rich historic traditions. *


Mattapoisett is a resort town on Buzzard's Bay which was incorporated in 1857. The first settlements in the town were seasonal as European colonists used sites in the area as fishing camps. The draw for both Indians and colonials were the rich fish, shellfish, water-fowl and game possibilities of the town as well as the seasonal eel and fish runs on the Mattapoisett River and eel ponds. Historians believe that the sheltered harbor may have been used by European explorers long before any settlements in the community. There are some Indian burial sites. The earliest settlements after the King Philip wars occurred around 1680 with residents dealing in lumbering, tar and turpentine production. Shipbuilding was established around 1740 and before the Civil War the principal businesses in the town were shipbuilding and whaling, with four shipyards in operation before 1800. The town traded with Nantucket, Newport, New York and Savannah and a shipping complex was developed at the head of Mattapoisett Harbor in the first half of the 18th century. There were few streams and therefore few mills using water power in town, but by 1855 there were 16 whaling ships in operation. Those residents who were not involved in the maritime trades farmed and raised sheep. The death of the whaling and shipbuilding industry in the 1870's followed the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania, and resort development replaced both. The town's mainstay became agriculture and tourists through the early 20th century. An influx of well-to-do summer residents built summer homes on big estates, not in densely packed groupings as in some other shore communities. There has been some suburban growth and development in the town, but Mattapoisett still contains gracious summer homes and hosts many summer visitors. *

New Bedford

The City of New Bedford is seen by its residents as a wonderfully diverse and culturally rich community with a proud past, present and future.  Known as the #1 Fishing Port in the United States as well as the whaling capital of the world in the 18th century, the city has evolved to become the home of many major industries, which manufacture products used throughout the United States and abroad. The city prides itself on its working waterfront and historic district, as well as its expanding retail and tourist trades. While it is a city of approximately 100,000 people, New Bedford maintains a close-knit community feel. Recently named one of the top ten "Green Cities" in the country, New Bedford residents feel that its parks are breathtaking and its beaches gorgeous. Enhanced with festivals and celebrations throughout the year, New Bedford is a wonderful place to visit.


The Town of Rochester was founded in 1679 and incorporated in 1686. At that time the area now known as Marion, Mattapoisett and West Wareham were all part of Rochester. These towns were subsequently separated from Rochester and by 1857 Rochester stood alone, having had the foresight to reserve rights on the seashores of the other towns. That is why residents of Rochester enjoy rights for shellfish licenses and beach use in communities not their own. Zoning in Rochester includes industrial, general commercial and residential/agricultural uses. The town's center includes the town hall, library, First Congregational Church and vestry. Across from these buildings is the Plumb Corner Mall, a source of pride to town residents because it was designed to harmonize architecturally with the town green. There are several riding stables in town as well as the Rochester Golf Club, which recently expanded its 9-hole course to an 18-hole course, and a park in the town center which serves as the location for several teams from the active Little League. Residents describe their community as rural and residential and point out that it still retains many of the farms which were originally the foundation of the town 300 years ago. A quiet, beautiful place within which to live and grow, is their final word on their home town. *


Wareham, situated at the head of Buzzards Bay, offers an exceptional location within easy travelling distance to the Boston and Providence metropolitan areas. Boston is about one hour away and Providence is about 45 minutes away. All of the tourist amenities of the Cape Cod area are available in Wareham. The town has over 54 miles of coastline enhanced by beaches, estuaries, rivers and ponds which create a subtle contrast to a vibrant, growing community. The town's quality of life offers an excellent home for industry but particularly a home for people. From its early beginnings of farming and ship building in the 1700s, Wareham has evolved a diversified industrial and commercial economy with ample human and natural resources to support continued growth. With a 1990 population of just under 20,000, the town offers a distinctive social and economic mix from stately mansions to modest cottages and high tech industry to traditional boat building. *


Westport is a town of farms, of beautiful scenery, of people who live from the water, of small businesses and of homes. Each of these aspects of the community is characterized and strengthened by the superb natural resources to be found within the town's borders. The key to Westport's recreational resources also lies within its natural environment.

Westport, so named because it was the westernmost port in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was first settled in 1670 as a part of the town of Dartmouth by members of the Sisson family. The river, and the land around it, was called "Coaksett" in the original deed; the name, now spelled "Acoaxet," lives on in the southwestern community along the western branch of the Westport River. Like many areas in the region, Westport was affected by invading Wampanoag Indians during King Philip's War. Several small mills were built along the Westport River, and in 1787, the town, along with the town of New Bedford, seceded from Dartmouth.

During the late 18th century, into the early 19th century, a Quaker businessman, sea captain, patriot, and abolitionist named Paul Cuffee and his wife settled in the town, on the banks of the Westport River where he launched a shipyard. Cuffee became one of the richest free blacks in the United States at the time, and helped the effort to try to emigrate black slaves to Sierra Leone in Africa.

There were several cotton mills along the river, the largest of which was at the junction of the river with Lake Noquochoke on the Dartmouth town line. The Macomber turnip traces its ancestry to turnips sowed in Westport shortly after 1876. During the Second World War, a coastal defense installation was raised on Gooseberry Island. The town is now mostly residential, with a large farming community. Horseneck Beach State Reservation, located to the north and west of Gooseberry Island, is a popular summer destination for many. *narrative provided by Wikipedia.

Tiverton, Rhode Island

Tiverton is a quiet waterfront Rhode Island community just minutes away from the cities of Portsmouth, Newport, Providence, Fall River, and New Bedford. Situated on the easterly side of the Sakonnet River, Tiverton is an ideal place to sit and watch the beautiful New England sunsets.

Tiverton was named after Tiverton, England and was incorporated by the Province of Massachusetts in 1694. It was then incorporated in Rhode Island on January 27, 1746 and annexed to Newport County three weeks later. Tiverton is one of five towns received from Massachusetts by Royal Decree. The land area of Tiverton is 29.7 square miles. The Indian territory now occupied by Tiverton and neighboring Little Compton was known as Pocasset.

Little Compton, Rhode Island

Little Compton was incorporated as a part of Plymouth Colony in 1682, after having been settled by Captain Benjamin Church, the noted Indian fighter, and others seven years previously. In 1746, under Royal Decree, it was transferred to Rhode Island together with the Towns of Cumberland, Barrington, Bristol and Tiverton.

The town was originally the home of the "Sagonate" or "Sakonnet" Indians, a particularly independent group of native Americans that fought with the settlers against the notorious King Philip,Sachem of the Wampanoags. King Philip waged a bloody war against the white settlers and tried to induce other neighboring tribes to join him.

The southern end of the town bordering the Atlantic is still known as "Sakonnet". It was here that Captain Church cleared the area for settlement.

Following the end of Indian hostilities, the small settlement in Little Compton enjoyed comparative peace and prosperity until a new threat arose; the British occupation of Newport during the Revolution. Foraging parties from the British garrison invaded Little Compton several times. The British raiders met with stiff resistance from the settlers, and were "bushwacked" several times as in the skirmish at the Taggart House.

Today, Little Compton is a rural-farming community. It was in Little Compton that the famous Rhode Island Red, (a breed of fowl and the State Bird), was developed. Fishing is still a major industry in the town, as one can observe with the daily departure of the fishing fleet from the Sakonnet Wharf. The town has also developed into an ideal vacation spot with the traditional atmosphere of colonial New England.

Why the South Coast Region?

The South Coast region of Massachusetts stretches from the Rhode Island border to the Cape Cod Canal and offers some of the finest beaches and freshest seafood in the country without the frustrating traffic jams of Cape Cod. Each of the South Coast villages has a slightly different flavor and demographic.

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