Westport is a town in Bristol County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 15,532 at the 2010 census.
The village of North Westport lies in the town. Other named areas of the town are “Westport Point,” which has a dock on the Westport River where Main Road meets the river; “Central Village” with town offices, retail stores and businesses; “Head of Westport” at the head of the east branch of the river; and the area referred to either as “Acoaxet” or “Westport Harbor,” which is between the west branch of the river and Rhode Island. This area is cut off from the rest of Massachusetts by water and Rhode Island.
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 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,” now refers to the southwestern community along the western branch of the Westport River.
Like many areas in the region, Westport was affected by Wampanoag raiding parties during King Philip’s War. Several small mills were built along the Westport River, adding to its prosperity. In 1787, the growing town, along with the town of New Bedford, seceded from Dartmouth.
During the late 18th century, into the early 19th century, Paul Cuffee and his wife settled in the town. He was a Quaker businessman, sea captain, patriot, and abolitionist who developed a shipyard on the banks of the Westport River. Of Wampanoag and Ashanti ancestry, Cuffee became one of the richest free man of color in the United States at the time. He later helped the effort to resettle freed blacks to Sierra Leone in West Africa.
Several cotton mills operated 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 seeds brought to Westport from the 1876 Centennial Exposition. 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 in the area.
Westport has its own school system. There are three schools: Alice A. Macomber School, which provides pre-school (pre-kindergarten), kindergarten, first grade, and second grade; Westport Elementary School, near the Head of Westport, which serves grades 3-6; and Westport Junior/Senior High School, which serves grades 7-12. Students who graduate from Westport Junior/Senior High School with enough credits in certain fields of study will earn special academy certificates, in addition to their high school diplomas. This was modelled after University-style degrees.
Their team name is the Westport Wildcats who have won multiple championships in the Mayflower League. The Wildcats are one of the few teams in the Mayflower League who have won multiple championships in every sport. Their mascot is the Wildcat, and their colors are brown, white and yellow (a legacy of when Westport was in a different league that used Ivy League colors – Westport using brown and white after Brown University). The school is a member of the Mayflower League, and competes against mostly division 3 and 4 schools in the region.
Westport High School graduated 94% of its class in 2013.
In addition to their schools, incoming high school students may choose to attend Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School in Fall River or Bristol County Agricultural High School in Dighton, free of charge. Juniors and Seniors may opt to take college classes at UMass Dartmouth in Dartmouth or Bristol Community College in Fall River to earn both high school and college credits. Internships and independent study are offered as well.
There is one private school in the town, Montessori School of the Angels, which serves grades 1-8, located in the Westport Factory neighborhood. It was formerly known as Saint Joseph’s Montessori, and was located in Fall River; the school building itself was formerly Saint George’s School, which closed due to lack of funding and declining attendance. Many students also attend private and charter schools in Fall River and Dartmouth, including Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River and Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth.
As of the census of 2010, there were 15,532 people, 5,386 households, and 4,082 families residing in the town. The population density was 283.4 people per square mile (109.4/km2). There were 6,143 housing units at an average density of 122.7 per square mile (47.4/km2). The racial makeup of the town was 98.01% White, 0.17% African American, 0.14% Native American, 0.49% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.37% from other races, and 0.79% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.69% of the population.
There were 5,386 households in Westport, of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.9% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.2% were non-families. 19.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.01.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 21.6% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 28.0% from 25 to 44, 29.0% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 96.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.2 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $55,436, and the median income for a family was $64,568. Males had a median income of $41,890 versus $30,921 for females. The per capita income for the town was $25,281. About 3.7% of families and 4.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.5% of those under age 18 and 7.9% of those age 65 or over.