• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

Island Facts: Lovells Island

A rocky swimming beach, pine woods, and the remains of a fort characterize Lovells Island.


 
A favorite camping island, 62-acre Lovells has trails that pass by dunes and woods, picnic areas, an unsupervised swimming beach, and the remains of Fort Standish. Low tide exposes an additional 71 acres, for a total size of 120 acres.
 

Short History
The island was seasonally occupied by Native Americans. During the colonial period, the island was granted to Charlestown for timber harvesting and fishing, with half of the timber reserved for the fort on Castle Island. With its location along the first shipping channel into Boston, it briefly served as a quarantine station in the 1600s and was the nearest island to many shipwrecks. The country's first "hut of refuge" was constructed on the island by the Massachusetts Humane Society. In 1902 it was decided to construct two navigational range lights to assist mariners using the South Channel. In 1919, Charles Jennings, previously at Boston Light, became keeper at Lovells' range lights. The range light towers were torn down in the late 1930's when Army Fort Standish was expanded. Today all that remains is the oil house. The topography of the island was altered first by the construction of a granite seawall in the mid 1880s and second by military installations in the late 1800s. The island was acquired for military use in 1825 and garrisoned during the Civil War, WWI and WWII then declared surplus property. The state acquired the island in 1958.

 

General Information
This island of Boston Harbor Islands national park area is managed by Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

Agency Designation: Harbor Islands Reservation
Current Use: Park purposes
Harbor Location: Quincy Bay
Acreage: 61.90 upland acres
Highest elevation: 79 feet
Longitude: 42° 19' 45.6" North
Latitude: 70° 55' 48.5" West
Miles from Long Wharf: 7.2
 
Visitor Facilities & Services
Hours:
9:00am to sunset
Piers/Docks:
Yes
Visitor season:
Summer
Boat slips:
0
Visitor staff:
Yes
Moorings:
0
Guided tours:
Yes
Park boats:
Park shuttle boat
Lifeguards:
No
Car access:
No
Flush toilets:
No
Campsites:
6 (capacity ea: 6)
Composting toilets:
Yes
Group campsites:
2 (capacity ea: 50)
Picnic areas:
Yes
Camping capacity:
136
Refreshments:
No
Cooking grills:
Yes
Drinking water:
No
Walking trails:
Yes
On-island Circulation: Approximately one mile of broken asphalt roads traverse the island. Mowed grass paths and shoreline walking are necessary to tour all of the gun batteries.

Visitor Cautions: The gun batteries contain steep drops, open holes in parapets rusty rebar, railings and pipes, and crumbling concrete surfaces.
 
Natural History Overview
Vegetation
The oldest tree on the island may be the stump of a horsechestnut with a cluster of viable stems. Most of the planted species date to the 1930s when the Civilian Conservation Corps attempted to reestablish a natural forest on the island, planting poplar, pine, spruce, oak, and rose. Much of this was cleared when the fort was reactivated in the 1940s. Left to recover after the war, the island is now characterized by over fifty years of natural succession of vegetation on a disturbed site with remnant patches of stands of poplar, pine and spruce. Successional species include staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina), black cherry, choke cherry, apple (Malus sp.), and gray birch (Betula populifolia). Common shrubs include bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), beach plum, raspberry (Rubus sp.), Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana) and saltspray rose (Rosa rugosa). The wet meadow area was altered by fill during military construction. Phragmites covers most of the area while a small area contains native marsh species (Spartina patens, Juncus gerardii, Salicornia and Limonium). Dunes on the north and south shores are vegetated with beachgrass. There is minimal poison ivy on the island, located in Battery Terrill.

Wildlife
Survey in progress.

Geology
Lovells is composed of a wet meadow and three low connected drumlins: the southeast head, Ram's Head at the northwest end, and the central drumlin, which rises to an elevation of 79 feet. The island is surrounded by a rockstrewn shoreline with the exception of the northeast side where there is a long section of gravel, sand and shell beach. A half mile-long dune extends along the southern shore and a short dune is located on the northern shore. A constructed seawall and fortifications have altered the shape and topography of portions of the island.

Water Features
The remains of a well over a small seep, constructed during the period of military use, are located in an poplar grove on the central drumlin. The primary source of fresh water for the military was water pumped from an off-island source. Further study required.

Views and Vistas
From the central drumlin there are views to Boston and the islands in the middle harbor including Deer, Long, Gallops, Rainsford, and Georges. From the swimming beach, gun batteries and southeast head there are views to the outer islands and Boston Light.
 

Structures
Buildings

  • Visitor shelter near pier constructed on old building foundation
  • Building foundations from Fort Standish
  • Seasonal ranger trailer
  • Seasonal outhouses

Fortifications

  • Fort Standish
  • Battery Whipple (Southeast Head -- three 3-inch repeating guns atop two bunkers)
  • Battery Williams (Southeast Head -- two 6-inch repeating guns and bunkers)
  • Battery Morris (central drumlin -- two 10-inch disappearing guns and bunkers)
  • Battery Burbeck (central drumlin -- two 10- inch disappearing guns and bunkers)
  • Battery Terrill (Rams Head -- three 6- inch disappearing guns and bunkers)
  • Remnants of Battery Weir
  • Range towers

Other Structures

  • Pier
  • Old pier and groins (breakwaters) for erosion control
  • Granite block seawall and rip rap

Did You Know?