Dartmouth is a town in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States established in 1664. The population was 34,032 at the 2010 census. compared with 30,666 residents during the 2000 census. Dartmouth is the location of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, the Dartmouth Mall, and the former amusement park, Lincoln Park.
Dartmouth is the third-largest town (by land area) in Massachusetts, after Plymouth and Middleborough. The distance from Dartmouth's northern most border with Freetown to Buzzards Bay in the south is approximately .
The villages of Hixville, Bliss Corner, Padanaram, Smith Mills, and Russells Mills are located within the town. Dartmouth shares borders with Westport to the west, Freetown and Fall River to the north, Buzzards Bay to the south, and New Bedford to the east.
Dartmouth was first settled in 1650 and was officially incorporated in 1664. It was named for the town of Dartmouth, Devon, England, from where the Puritans originally intended to depart for America. The land was purchased with trading goods from the Wampanoag chiefs Massasoit and Wamsutta by elders of the Plymouth Colony; reportedly thirty yards of cloth, eight moose skins, fifteen axes, fifteen hoes, fifteen pairs of shoes, one iron pot, and ten shillings' worth of assorted goods . It was sold to the Religious Society of Friends or Quakers, who wished to live outside the stringent religious laws of the Puritans in Plymouth. There are still Quaker meeting houses in town, including the Smith Neck Meeting House, the Allens Neck Meeting House, and the Apponegansett Meeting House, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The town's borders were originally named in the charter (and set by King Philip) as the lands of "Acushnea, Ponagansett, and Coaksett." This includes the land of the towns of Westport, Fairhaven, and Acushnet, and the city of New Bedford. In 1789, the towns of Westport and New Bedford, which included Fairhaven and Acushnet, separated and were incorporated as towns themselves.
In 1780, seven black residents of Dartmouth petitioned the town's legislature for the right to vote, claiming a lack of representation despite the fact that they paid taxes and fought in the Revolutionary War.
Dartmouth's history was that of an agricultural community, but during the late 19th century its coastline became a resort area for the wealthy members of New Bedford society.
Round Hill was the site of early-to-mid 20th century research into the uses of radio and microwaves for aviation and communication by MIT researchers. It is also the site of the Green Mansion, the estate of "Colonel" Edward Howland Robinson Green, a colorful character in his own right, who was son of the even more colorful and wildly eccentric Hetty Green, said to be the richest woman in the world in her time, who is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the "world's greatest miser". In 1936, the Colonel died, and the estate fell into disrepair as litigation between his wife and his sister continued for eight years over his vast fortune. Finally, Mrs. Hetty Sylvia Wilks, the Colonel's sister, was ruled the sole beneficiary. In 1948, she bequeathed the entire estate to MIT, which used it for microwave and laser experiments. The giant antenna, which was a landmark to sailors on Buzzards Bay, was erected on top of a 50,000-gallon water tank. (After all efforts were made to preserve the structure, it was demolished on November 19, 2007.) Another antenna was erected next to the mansion and used in the development of the Ballistic Early Warning System. MIT continued to use Round Hill through 1964. It was then sold to the Society of Jesus of New England and was used as a retreat house. The upper floors were divided into 64 individual rooms. The main floor was fitted with a chapel, a library and meeting rooms. In 1970 the Jesuits sold the land and buildings to Gratia R. Montgomery. In 1981, Mrs. Montgomery sold most of the land to a group of developers who have worked to preserve the history, grandeur and natural environment. The property now is a gated community featuring a nine-hole golf course.
The town's retail area has grown steadily since the 1960s, centering around the village of Smith Mills, but many of those stores have closed down now. Business is now branching northward towards Faunce Corners and along US Route 6. The Dartmouth Mall is also located on Route 6.
The Lloyd Center for Environmental Studies, located in South Dartmouth, is a non-profit organization that provides educational programs on aquatic environments in southeastern New England. It is across the mouth of the Slocums River from Demarest Lloyd State Park, a popular state beach known for its shallow waters.
The town was also once the home of Lincoln Park, (1894-1987) a former amusement park which dated from the late 19th century as a park-stop along the trolley line (and US Route 6) from Fall River to New Bedford just east of the junction of Lake Noquochoke and the Westport River. The park closed in 1986 due to sagging attendance and lack of funds. Much of the park was burned to the ground in several incidents of arson, and today there are plans to turn the former park's lands into a housing development with accompanying stores.