About Barnstable County
Barnstable County consists of the 15 coastal towns located on the peninsula
known as Cape Cod. Bordered on the north by Cape Cod Bay, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean and to the south by Nantucket
Sound, it is the easternmost point of land in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. With over 550 miles of shoreline and more
than 360 lakes and ponds, the maritime heritage of the region is deeply rooted. Approximately 396 square miles of land are
home to over 205,000 year round residents, swelling to more than three times that number during the peak summer months.
The County seat is located in Barnstable Village on Historic Route 6A, the
Old King's Highway, in the Town of Barnstable. County offices are located in the Superior Court House, the First District
Court House and the Registry of Deeds and Probate Building.
Established as a County in the year 1685, the current boundary lines were drawn
in 1707 and have not changed since that date. Although initially the counties of the Commonwealth were mainly judicial in
nature, over time additional responsibilities were assigned by the state legislature. Subsequently, many counties served as
subdivisions of the state government, serving as an adminstrative arm of the Commonwealth on a regional basis, but without
legislative authority. This changed in Barnstable County with the passage of the Barnstable County Home Rule Charter, signed
into legislation in July of 1988, which guaranteed certain rights of home rule for the county and established a legislative
body with the power to enact ordinances. This increased Barnstable County's accountability to the residents of Cape Cod and
provided for increased citizen participation and input in the function of County Government.
Barnstable County government has long been recognized as a model for successful
regionalization of services, ranging from public safety to fiscal, health, human service, economic development, planning and
land use functions.