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The earliest human inhabitants began living in what is now Massachusetts around 10,000 BC. Algonquian-speaking groups of American Indians occupied the area for centuries prior to European exploration in the late 15th century. European colonization began in earnest during the early 1600s, followed by the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620 and the Puritans in 1628. Colonists, like the indigenous peoples before them, lived by hunting, farming and catching fish and shellfish. Shipbuilding and maritime commerce soon became staple economic activities for the colonists, as well. While the first battles of the American Revolution took place outside of Boston in 1775, the only other battle of the Revolution that took place in Massachusetts occurred in September 1778, when the British burned New Bedford, a port from which American ships attacked British vessels. After America established independence from British rule, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts entered the Union as the sixth state on February 6, 1788, with a population of nearly 378,000. Today, according to the most recent census report in 2004, 6,416,505 people call Massachusetts home. While maritime industries remain a vital part of the economy, tourism has also become an important source of income with millions of travelers visiting Massachusetts each year. With its beautiful beaches, small town charm and bustling cities, Massachusetts offers something for everyone.
Maritime History of Massachusetts offers several ways to discover the places that reflect the maritime history of this New England state. Each highlighted place features a brief description of its historic significance, color photographs and public accessibility information. At the bottom of each page are links to four essays: Lighthouse & Lifesaving Stations, Ships & Shipbuilding, the U.S. Navy and Maritime Commerce. These essays provide historic background, or "contexts," for the places included in the itinerary. In the Learn More section, the itinerary links to regional and local websites that provide visitors with further information regarding cultural events, special activities, and lodging and dining possibilities. Visitors may be interested in Historic Hotels of America, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, located in Massachusetts. The itinerary can be viewed online, or printed if you plan to visit the Massachusetts coast in person.
Maritime History of Massachusetts is part of the Department of the Interior's strategy to promote public awareness of history and encourage visits to historic places throughout the Nation. The National Register of Historic Places partners with communities, regions and heritage areas throughout the United States to create online travel itineraries. Using places nominated by State, Federal and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the itineraries help potential visitors plan trips by highlighting the amazing diversity of this country's historic places and providing public accessibility information for each featured site. Maritime History of Massachusetts is the 42nd National Register travel itinerary in this ongoing series. Itineraries for other maritime-related destinations include Early History of the California Coast, Florida Shipwrecks, Along the Georgia-Florida Coast, Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Cooridor and World War II in the San Francisco Bay Area. The National Register of Historic Places and Maritime Heritage Program hope you enjoy this virtual tour. If you have any comments or questions, please just click on the provided e-mail address, "comments or questions" located at the bottom of each page.
During the colonial years, each of the 13 colonies established lighthouses and other navigational aids according to their individual needs. In 1716, the first lighthouse constructed in the colonies was Boston Light on Little Brewster Island. Highly profitable trade with the French West Indies and other foreign ports largely determined the placement of the earliest Massachusetts lighthouses. New England fish, salt, lumber and meat were traded for West Indian sugar and molasses, which was shipped to Massachusetts and distilled into rum. Merchants sent the rum to Africa in exchange for slaves, who were then sold to West Indian sugar plantations. As maritime travel and trade increased and diversified, the need for more beacons in Massachusetts was realized and additional lighthouses were established, such as at Brant Point Light on Nantucket in 1746, Plymouth Light on Gurnet Point in 1768, Cape Ann Twin Lights on Thacher Island in 1771 and Newburyport Harbor Light on Plum Island in 1788.
The newly formed Federal government understood that a more coordinated system of lighthouses was necessary to ensure the safety of crews and cargo, and maintain a large-scale maritime economy. Congress placed the responsibility for lighthouses, as well as all other aids to navigation, under the Federal government in 1789. Several lighthouses were established on the coast of Massachusetts and on nearby islands around this time. Unfortunately, economy of operation ruled over efficiency which resulted in the lighthouses of the United States being considered as some of the poorest quality in the world. Many of the early lighthouses built by the Federal government, such as Straitsmouth Light, Race Point Light and Gay Head Light were eventually replaced with new and improved structures. Other lighthouses, including Derby Wharf Light, Scituate Light and Sankaty Light have been repaired throughout the years but remain standing. Straitsmouth Light, Race Point Light, Gay Head Light, Derby Wharf Light and Scituate Light are active Federal aids to navigation today. Although Sankaty Light received one of the first Fresnel lenses in the United States and was considered one of the most important coastal lighthouses in the United States, it was decommissioned in 1860 following the construction of the second Minot's Ledge Light, which more adequately marked the area than did Sankaty Light. Sankaty was again illuminated in 1994 as a private aid to navigation.
After receiving numerous complaints about the Nation's system of lighthouses, the Federal government gathered a group of distinguished military officers and civilian scientists to conduct a large-scale investigation of existing lighthouses in 1851. The investigation determined that many light stations were in poor condition and therefore unable to meet mariners' needs. In 1852, the Federal government formed the Lighthouse Board, comprised of the individuals who conducted the earlier investigation, to take over all duties related to lighthouses and to improve upon them by using better building materials, new construction methods and advancements in lighting technology. Some of the lighthouses constructed or reconstructed in Massachusetts under the direction of the Lighthouse Board include the Cape Ann Twin Lights, Marblehead Light, Minot's Ledge Light, Highland (Cape Cod) Light, Brant Point Light and Cape Poge Light. These lighthouses continue to serve as Federal and private aids to navigation today.
At the same time the colonies were realizing a need for navigational aids, the citizens of Massachusetts were also concerned about the incidents of shipwreck and loss of life along the coast. Although a coordinated system of lighthouses and lightships helped many mariners avoid treacherous shoals and sand bars, the inevitable shipwreck occurred as the fog and New England weather forced ships aground with repeated loss of life. Based on the British model, prominent Massachusetts citizens founded an organization called the "Massachusetts Humane Society" in 1785, which would become the basis for the American system of rescue from shipwreck. The organization established huts along the shore to provide shelter for mariners in need and subsequently built lifeboat stations manned by volunteers.
By the 1870s, the Massachusetts system of lifeboat stations had grown to more than 70 stations, but just as with the lighthouses, a more efficient system was needed as maritime trade expanded. Finally in 1871, Congress appropriated funds to create a coordinated system of lifesaving called the U.S. Life-Saving Service. Point Allerton Life-Saving Station and Old Harbor Life-Saving Station provide two excellent examples of lifesaving stations established by the U.S. Life-Saving Service. In 1915, the U.S. Life-Saving Service merged with the Revenue Cutter Service, the precursor to the U.S. Coast Guard, and lifesaving remains an important duty of the U.S. Coast Guard today.
In 1939, the U.S. Coast Guard subsumed all duties related to lighthouses and other navigational aids. One of the U.S. Coast Guard's first actions related to lighthouses in Massachusetts was the demolition of Edgartown Harbor Light on Martha's Vineyard. It was replaced with an existing tower transported from Crane's Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Cleveland Ledge Light was the last commissioned lighthouse in New England and the only one built by the U.S. Coast Guard in the region. The U.S. Coast Guard currently maintains most of the functioning lighthouses in Massachusetts, the majority of which have been automated, unmanned and converted to solar power in recent years.
In a letter read to Congress on October 13, 1775, General Washington notified them of his actions and urged them to form a navy. Congress voted to properly equip sailing vessels in order to prevent enemy vessels from bringing supplies to the British Army in America. In addition, Congress established a naval committee responsible for purchasing, outfitting, manning and operating the first ships of the new navy. The committee also drafted subsequent naval legislation and prepared rules and regulations to govern the organization. The first American squadron was launched on February 18, 1776. The size of the Continental navy peaked in 1777 with a total of 31 ships. In 1779, an American naval squadron under the command of John Paul Jones took the fight to Great Britain. In a celebrated battle, Jones at the helm of the Bon Homme Richard engaged and defeated the British warship H.M.S. Serapis off the English coast. During the battle when asked by the British captain if he were prepared to surrender, Jones replied with the immortal words, "I have not yet begun to fight." In 1783, the signing of the Treaty of Paris provided the United States with independence from Britain, however, freedom at sea was yet to be accomplished. Congress disbanded the Continental navy at the end of the Revolutionary War and the United States functioned without a navy until 1794.
Without armed ships or the protection of Great Britain, North African pirates frequently victimized American merchant vessels in the Mediterranean Sea during this time. In order to safely explore new markets in which to conduct trade, Congress reestablished a national navy authorizing the construction of six new vessels on March 27, 1794. The congressional act stipulated that construction would cease if peace with Algiers was achieved. An agreement was reached early in 1796, prior to the ships' completion, yet Congress approved the finishing of three frigates. The USS United States, the USS Constellation and the USS Constitution were launched in 1797.
As tensions with France prompted greater public support for a strong navy, officials from the Department of War, the Department of Treasury and Congress pressed for the creation of a separate naval department solely responsible for naval affairs. On April 30, 1798, President John Adams signed a congressional act establishing the Department of the Navy. By the end of 1798, the navy owned 14 completed vessels and had more under construction. Naval shipyards, such as Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Washington Navy Yard, Boston Naval Shipyard (Charlestown Navy Yard) and New York Navy Yard, sprung up around the turn of the century along important rivers and on the coastlines of major American cities to support increased ship production and to prepare existing ships for combat.
Following the American Revolution, the British refused to withdraw from American territory along the Great Lakes and continued attacking American merchant ships, which led to the onset of the War of 1812. The U.S. Navy had 17 ships at this time, compared to the 600 ships of the British fleet. The USS Constitution, constructed at Edmund Hartt's shipyard in Boston, participated in a battle with the British vessel Guerriere on August 19, 1812, and emerged victorious after approximately one-half hour. In December 1812, the Constitution defeated the British warship H.M.S. Java in a noted battle off the coast of Brazil. Though unable to prevent British assaults on Washington, Baltimore and New Orleans, the U.S. Navy was more successful on the Great Lakes. The United States secured control of Lake Erie and then defeated the British on Lake Champlain, which led to the war's conclusion with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814. After achieving such success during the War of 1812, Congress encouraged the expansion of the naval fleet and bestowed upon the U.S. Navy responsibility for protecting burgeoning overseas commerce. Officials also constructed naval hospitals in or near key cities to better serve the growing navy. The Boston Naval Hospital opened in 1836 as one of the first three hospitals authorized specifically for naval personnel.
Recognizing the need for formal training of naval officers, in 1845, Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft founded the "Naval School" at Annapolis, Maryland. In 1850, it became known as the U.S. Naval Academy. John Paul Jones, the "father of the American navy," is buried in the Naval Academy's chapel. Following the start of the Civil War in 1861, few expected naval warfare to constitute an important part of the national conflict. The Union navy possessed 42 ships, most of which were deployed at sea at the start of the war, and the Confederates initially had no navy. The North immediately organized a blockade to stop all traffic and communications to the South and began an emergency shipbuilding program. The South acquired ships from Britain, captured Union vessels and began a shipbuilding program of their own. When the Civil War ended in a Union victory in 1865, the United States possessed a total of 671 ships making it the largest navy in the world.
Following the war, Congressional funding for new ship construction ceased until the early 1890s, when three new battleships were commissioned allowing the U.S. Navy to compete on equal footing with European naval powers. While floating in Havana Harbor in 1898 to protect American citizens in Cuba, one of the new battleships, the USS Maine, mysteriously blew up killing all 250 crew members and spawning the Spanish-American War. The subsequent American victory resulted in Spain ceding Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines to the United States, gave the United States guardianship over Cuba, and generally established the United States as a world power. In order to protect this new empire, the U.S. Navy worked to modernize its fleet by building submarines, destroyers, airplanes and more battleships. The new and improved fleet was tested in 1917 when the United States entered World War I. Following an Allied victory in 1918, arms-limitation treaties such as the Washington Treaty and the Five-Power Treaty forced the United States to reduce both the number and the size of its ships.
The importance of aviation increased in naval operations during the post-World War I era. The Navy developed aircraft carriers, radar technology and better weaponry for protection from air attacks. The United States entered World War II in 1941 after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Many naval vessels included in this Maritime History of Massachusetts travel itinerary and exhibited in Massachusetts today were built during World War II and actively participated in combat, such as the USS Massachusetts, the USS Lionfish and the USS Cassin Young. PT Boat 617 and PT Boat 796 were both built towards the end of the war, yet neither served in the naval fleet until after Japan surrendered aboard the battleship Missouri on September 2, 1945, concluding World War II. The Gearing-class destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. built at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, was commissioned on December 15, 1945, and played a significant role in the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Blockade and America's space program.
Ships & Shipbuilding Shipbuilding is one of the oldest industries in the United States with roots in the earliest colonial settlements. Shipbuilding quickly became a successful and profitable industry in Massachusetts, with its miles of coastline featuring protected harbors and bays, and extensive supplies of raw materials. The early wooden vessels built for commercial fishing and foreign trade also gave rise to a variety of ancillary trades and industries in the area, including sail making, chandleries, rope walks and marine railways. Shipyards in Essex and Suffolk counties are credited with the invention of the traditional American dory and built those that comprised the renowned Gloucester fishing fleet, helped free the colonies from British rule, strengthened the merchant and naval fleets that made the United States a world power and played pivotal roles in World War I and World War II. Many vessels included in this itinerary were either constructed in Massachusetts or are representative of the types of vessels built and repaired in Massachusetts shipyards.
Early settlements, combined with the abundance of oak forests and nearby newly established sawmills on Cape Ann, played a major role in the emergence of the shipbuilding industry on the Essex and Merrimack Rivers and in areas along the northern Massachusetts coastline during the mid-17th century. A shipbuilding boom in the area commenced around 1710. In the beginning, people built their own boats for fishing and transportation. By the late 18th century, experienced shipbuilders began building a new vessel each winter, fishing it during the summer, and selling the vessel during the fall. Captains traveled from other ports to the town of Essex and contracted for a new vessel because the Essex shipbuilders possessed unsurpassed skill and craftsmanship. Much of the skills required of shipwrights or shipbuilders were obtained through on-the-job-training, and many of the earliest shipyards and boat shops operated as family businesses passed down from generation to generation. Lowell's Boat Shop in Amesbury, Massachusetts, for example, was originally constructed in 1793, run by several generations of the Lowell family, and is the oldest, continually operating boat shop in the United States.
By the early 1840s, Essex no longer had its own fishing fleet, but had turned to year-round shipbuilding fostering a symbiotic relationship with the successful fishermen in Gloucester. In other words, when Gloucester had successful fishing runs and needed more boats, Essex prospered by supplying the boats. By 1845, shipbuilding in Essex was firmly established. The town became widely recognized as North America's leading producer of the popular "schooners," which enabled fishermen to sail far offshore and withstand rough seas. These large wooden vessels featured two masts carrying two principal sails supported by booms and gaffs and had one or more triangular head sails rigged to a bowsprit. By the 1850s, 15 Essex shipyards launched more than 50 vessels a year, most of which were built for the Gloucester fleet. A typical Essex shipyard consisted of a plot of land near the water with a few shipways, a shop for yard tools and enough space to store timber. Few shipyards had an on-site office and business was often conducted at the builder's home. Of the 4,000 vessels built in Essex during its 350-year shipbuilding history, only 5 of the fishing schooners exist today. The Schooner Ernestina and the Schooner Adventure remain in Massachusetts.
Unlike the Essex shipyards that largely produced fishing vessels, other Massachusetts shipyards constructed vessels that played an important role in the birth, growth and continued effectiveness of the U.S. Navy. The Boston Naval Yard built more than 200 warships, and maintained and repaired thousands of others from 1800 to 1974. Upon closing after 174 years of service, 30 acres of the navy yard became part of Boston National Historical Park administered by the National Park Service. The frigate USS Constitution, also known as "Old Ironsides," which is the oldest commissioned warship in the world, and the Fletcher-class destroyer USS Cassin Young are displayed there as representatives of the vessels built and repaired at the shipyard. From humble beginnings in 1884, the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts quickly grew to become the second largest shipyard in the country and remained a leader in the shipbuilding industry for a century. The Bethlehem Steel Company owned the shipyard from 1925 to 1963, during which time it produced the South Dakota-class battleship USS Massachusetts and the Gearing-class destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Both vessels are now displayed at Battleship Cove, the world's largest naval ship exhibit, located in Fall River, Massachusetts. Also exhibited at Battleship Cove are the USS Lionfish, PT Boat 796 and PT Boat 617, which represent the types of submarines and Patrol Torpedo boats constructed for use during World War II.
Other types of boats, including tugboats and lightships, operated in the harbors and off the coast of Massachusetts. Although designed by a Boston naval architect and commissioned for the Boston Tow Boat Company, the Luna was built in Maryland in 1930. The Luna was one of the last wooden-hulled tugboats constructed, during an era when it had become cheaper and quicker to build vessels out of steel. The U.S. Navy employed the Luna during World War II to tend ships at Boston Naval Yard, and perform launch and rescue duties. Berthed in South Boston, the Luna is the last full-size, wood-hulled tug in existence. Lightship No. 114 was also built in 1930 and served at several dangerous offshore locations before being stationed at Pollock Rip off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, from 1958 to 1969. In 1975, Lightship No. 114 was brought to New Bedford, Massachusetts, and renamed. Unfortunately, in June 2006, a leak caused the vessel to roll on its side. Lightship No. 114 has since been righted but its fate is unknown.
Fishing by itself would have brought little wealth to Massachusetts had its inhabitants depended on outside interests to supply vessels. In 1631, skilled craftsmen started building their own vessels for fishing and conducting commercial trade. By 1660, shipbuilding had become a leading industry in the towns of Newburyport, Ipswich, Gloucester, Salem and Boston. A wealthy class of merchants developed about the same time, supported by the steady growth of Massachusetts shipping. Colonial merchants were more than shopkeepers or commission dealers. They bought and sold, at home and abroad, on their own account and often handled 'private adventures' on the side. They owned or chartered vessels that carried desired goods. At busy ports, these entrepreneurs and businessmen built wharves, which provided a safe place for their crew to unload goods destined for local markets or to load cargo onto ships bound for distant ports. In addition, they constructed stores, warehouses and fashionable homes, leaving their mark on the present-day landscape.
Among those who made their fortune in maritime trade was Richard Derby, who began his career as the captain of a fishing vessel and exported codfish from Salem in the first half of the 18th century. After much success at sea, he bought his own fleet and led a new class of merchants to the top of society. The Derby House and the Derby Wharf stand today as part of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. Samuel Bates, a prominent merchant in Cohasset and the first owner of Bates Wharf, its buildings and a fleet of schooners, used his earnings to construct the Bates Ship Chandlery in the mid-18th century. Restored and moved next to the Captain John Wilson House in 1957, both buildings currently serve as museums dedicated to Cohasset's long history as a maritime community.
While wealthy merchants were important to the economic development of Massachusetts and the entire United States, it was the middle class—captains and mates of vessels, shipbuilders, ropemakers, sailmakers and mechanics of many different trades—who were the backbone of maritime Massachusetts. Several historic districts along the Massachusetts coastline, such as the Fish Flake Hill Historic District, the East Gloucester Square Historic District and the Old Shipbuilder's Historic District, provide insight into the lives of middle-class individuals engaged in maritime-related occupations. Many of the existing residential buildings in these historic districts are modest, wood-framed dwellings set closely together near the waterfront.
In addition to fishing, shipbuilding and merchant endeavors, the whaling industry flourished throughout Massachusetts from the late 17th century to the mid-19th century. Glimpses of this major maritime enterprise can be seen in the historic districts of Nantucket, New Bedford, Edgartown Village and Wellfleet Center. The success of the whaling captains, candlemakers and others involved in the whaling industry is visible in the residences, commercial buildings and churches built during the heyday of whaling. Edward Penniman, one of the most successful whaling captains in New England, built his Second Empire style house on Cape Cod in 1868. Its grandeur expresses his affluence and maritime success. In the case of the Nantucket Historic District, the Edgartown Village Historic District and the Wellfleet Center Historic District, the demise of the whaling industry is also evidenced. With the depletion of the whale population and the introduction of petroleum as an illuminant superior to whale oil, the focus of these areas shifted from whaling to the summer tourism industry still thriving today. Summer cottages and resort communities sprang up in the mid-19th century, which helped to restore the weakened economy.
With the development of maritime commerce came the opportunity to regulate and tax, first by England and later by the Federal government under the Constitution. Prior to the American Revolution, Britain established a resident American Board of Customs in Boston based on the English Board of Trade and enacted harsh, new regulations on imports and exports in the colonies. This was not the first time that such taxes were inflicted on the colonists, who soon showed their discontent by burning local customhouses and houses of customs officers, and tarring and feathering customs officers. After gaining independence from Britain following the Revolutionary War and ratifying the Constitution, American politicians sought to raise national revenue by means of import duties. However, the question remained as to how such a collection would take place. In July 1789, Congress established the U.S. Customs Service, which designated geographic boundaries or customs districts within each of the first 11 states. Massachusetts had the most with 20 districts, and by 1799 two more were added. The law also authorized the appointment of Federal customs officers and defined their duties, and specified how goods were to be appraised and duties assessed on the appraisal values. For more than 100 years, the duties collected by the U.S. Customs Service were the Nation's primary source of income and were responsible for the country's early growth and infrastructure.
The preeminent building type associated with the U.S. Customs Service is the customhouse. Responsibility for the design and construction of customhouses fell to the Treasury Department. Five prominent examples of customhouses are included in this travel itinerary. Constructed in 1819, the customhouse in Salem was the focus of the busy waterfront area and remained in use until it was incorporated into the Salem Maritime National Historic Site in 1938. The Salem Customhouse employed American writer Nathanial Hawthorne as a surveyor from 1846 to 1849. Hawthorne immortalized the customhouse in the forward to his novel The Scarlet Letter. Famous American architect Robert Mills designed the U.S. Customhouse in Newburyport in 1835, which is located within the Market Square Historic District, as well as the U.S. Custom House in New Bedford in 1836. Ammi Burnham Young designed the prominent customhouse in downtown Boston between 1834 and 1847, which is now included in the Custom House District. He also designed the U.S. Customshouse in Barnstable which was completed in 1855, as well as a number of other customhouses during his tenure as Supervising Architect of the Treasury.
The original boat shop is a two-and-one-half-story, rectangular, wood frame building. Historically, the first floor served as a paint shop, the second floor was used to build the boats, and the timber was dried and stored in the half-story loft. Another boat shop, constructed in 1806, was moved and attached to the original shop in 1860. In 1946, a single-story, wood frame showroom and single-story, wood frame office were added to the existing building as business steadily increased through the end of World War II. Lowell's Boat Shop remained in the Lowell family until 1976. The Newburyport Maritime Society acquired the entire building and many historic artifacts including boat patterns and specialized tools in 1994.
Lowell's Boat Shop, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 459 Main St. in Amesbury. It is owned and maintained by the Newburyport Maritime Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and interpreting the maritime heritage of the lower Merrimack Valley. Lowell's Boat Shop serves as a working museum and a training ground for boat builders. It is open Memorial Day through Labor Day, Tuesday-Sunday, 11:00am to 4:00pm, or by appointment. For further information on classes offered and special events call 978-834-0050 or visit the boat shop's website at www.lowellsboatshop.com. Lowell's Boat Shop has also been documented by the National Park Service Historic American Engineering Record.
Market Square Historic District Located in Newburyport, the Market Square Historic District is one of the last seaport business districts remaining from the golden days of New England shipping. Market Square served as a market since American Indians met early explorers from England, France and Holland on the banks of the Merrimack River to trade furs and fish. In 1796, workers completed the canal connecting Newburyport with inland areas, which made Market Square the trading center for a good portion of interior New England and for sections of the Canadian border. An extensive fire in 1811 destroyed virtually every building in the area. To prevent a similar catastrophe once the Market Square area was rebuilt, the city passed an act promoting the construction of brick or stone buildings, limiting the height of wooden buildings to 25 feet high, and requiring massive fire walls to be built between buildings. Most of the buildings standing in the Market Square Historic District today were built during a 21-year period following the fire and strictly followed the building code.
A majority of the Federal style buildings facing the Square are brick row houses, three stories high and three bays wide, with commercial space below. The ridge roofs topping the row houses are separated by fire walls. Two of the most historically significant buildings in the district are the Market House and the U.S. Customhouse. Construction on the Market House began in 1823. It is a Federal style, brick building with a nine-bay facade. The U.S. Customhouse at 25 Water Street forms the east boundary of the Market Square Historic District. American architect Robert Mills designed this Neo-Classical Revival building in 1835. It currently serves as the Custom House Maritime Museum.
The Market Square Historic District is a triangular space created by the junction of State, Merrimac and Water sts. in Newburyport. Shops and restaurants in the district are open normal business hours. For further information, please call 978-462-8681 or visit the Essex National Heritage Area website.
The Newburyport Customhouse was designed by noted architect Robert Mills—the first architect of international reputation both born and trained in America. The two-story, rectangular, Neo-Classical building is made of granite with granite-block pilasters at each corner. The gable roof features an unornamented pediment at each end. At the entrance, a one-story porch projects from the building's façade and two columns support the entablature. Robert Mills is also known for designing important buildings and structures in Washington, D.C., such as the U.S. Treasury, the Old Post Office, the Patent Office and the Washington Monument. Today, the U.S. Customhouse is situated within the Market Square Historic District, on the edge of the city's central business district and in sight of the Merrimack River and Newburyport Harbor. It currently serves as a maritime museum exhibiting original objects from Newburyport's prosperous trade era, maritime art, models of locally-built vessels, maps of trade routes and journals and old maps of the city's origins.
The U.S. Customhouse is located at 25 Water St. in Newburyport. It is operated as a maritime museum by the Newburyport Maritime Society. At this time the museum is closed until further notice due to damage caused by spring floods. For further information, please call 978-462-8681 or visit the Newburyport Maritime Society's website.
The front range light tower was originally situated on the land-end of Bayley's Wharf. In the 1950s, the height of the light in this tower was raised when the original cast iron and glass lantern was removed and a 20-foot tall wood-frame tower, covered in wood shingles, was placed atop the 15-foot tall steel tower. The rear range light tower is situated several feet behind the front range tower and rests on a foundation of beveled stone blocks. It is a 53-foot tall pyramidal brick structure. The original daymark (a sign or shape that is clearly visibile by day) consisted of white paint on the upper third of the north side (or river-facing side) of the structure, with a thick white stripe running the length of the tower. Today, the entire north side of the tower is painted white. Both range lights were discontinued in 1961. Shortly thereafter the front range light was moved to a concrete foundation on nearby Coast Guard property and the rear range light was sold to a private owner. Later, a fire greatly damaged the front range light tower. When it was restored, a replica lantern was placed back atop the 15-foot tall iron tower returning it to its original appearance.
Newburyport Front Range Light Station is located on the grounds of the U.S. Coast Guard Station Merrimack River. Newburyport Harbor Rear Range Light Station is located on Water St. between Federal and Independent sts. Though neither light tower is open to the public both are visible from Water St. in downtown Newburyport or from boat cruises on the Merrimack River .
The present 45-foot tall, wooden, conical tower replaced the remaining towers in 1898. Set some distance back from the beach, it is constructed on sandy yet firm ground and is thereby protected from the continuously changing shoreline. Newburyport Harbor Light retains its original fourth-order Fresnel lens. Although the nearby, two-story keeper's dwelling (1872) still stands, only the light tower is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Looking west from Newburyport Harbor Light, the Newburyport Harbor Range Lights are visible. The Newburyport Harbor Light is a Federal aid to navigation.
The Newburyport Harbor Light Station is located at the north end of Northern Blvd., on Plum Island within the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Easily accessible by car, Newburyport Harbor Light Station is generally closed to the public but is occasionally open on weekends during the summer. It is owned by the City of Newburyport and leased to The Friends of Plum Island Light, Inc.
The tower interior contains a circular cast-iron staircase (33 stairs) that ascends to the watch room. The handrail is wood and possibly hand cut, as are the ones at Straitsmouth, Eastern Point and Newburyport Harbor light stations. An iron ladder leads from the watch room to the lantern room. The keeper's dwelling has been altered many times since construction, but retains the overall plan and dimensions of the original dwelling. The floor plan resembles the keeper's dwellings at Race Point and Straitsmouth light stations. The wood-frame, two-story building is topped with a gable roof and currently serves as Coast Guard housing. The one-story stone oil house is one of the few examples of its kind in Massachusetts, since most existing oil houses are brick. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, Annisquam Harbor Light Station is still an active aid to navigation and is closed to the public.
Annisquam Harbor Light Station is located on Wigwam Point in Gloucester, where the Annisquam River meets Ipswich Bay. Although the lighthouse is closed to the public, limited, short-term parking allows visitors to view the exterior. To access the parking lot, follow Rte. 127 in Gloucester, turn onto Leonard St. (next to a white church), turn right at the sign that says "Norwood Heights" and then follow the road to the end. The lighthouse is also visible from Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester.
The lighthouse continued as an active aid to navigation after automation, but the abandoned keeper's house quickly deteriorated. Although the dwelling underwent some renovations throughout the 1980s, it was subsequently exposed to the elements and further deterioration. In October 1991, a harsh storm destroyed the enclosed passageway attached to the tower. Straitsmouth Island, which is still owned by MAS and used as a bird sanctuary, is closed to the public. Owned and managed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Straitsmouth Island Light continues to operate as a Federal aid to navigation today.
Straitsmouth Island Light Station is located on Straitsmouth Island off the coast of Rockport. The island is owned by the Massachusetts Audubon Society and is generally closed to the public. The only access to the island is through occasional MAS kayaking excursions. The U.S. Coast Guard owns and operates the Straitsmouth Island Light Station and it is also closed to the public. Straitsmouth Island Light is visible from the breakwater at the end of Bearskin Neck in Rockport.
Twin Lights Historic District--Cape Ann Light Station Cape Ann Light Station, also known as Thacher Island Twin Lights, was first established on Thacher Island in 1771. Thacher Island is located about a mile offshore of Rockport. The rocky, 50-acre island earned its name when the General Court granted it to Anthony Thacher in 1636-1637. During the Great Storm of 1635, Thacher and his wife were the sole survivors of a tragic shipwreck near the island that claimed the lives of approximately 21 passengers and crew members, including the Thacher's children and friends. Numerous other shipwrecks occurred in the area, and the Massachusetts colonial government eventually purchased the island to establish a light station. One of only 10 lighthouses operating in North America at the time, the Cape Ann Light Station was constructed in 1771 to safely guide mariners past Thacher Island. The two identical wooden towers were among the first built to mark a hazardous location rather than a harbor entrance and were also the last lights built under British rule in the colonies. Prior to the widespread use of revolving or flashing optics, twin towers provided a distinguishing characteristic for mariners.
The original towers were replaced by the present 124-foot tall, twin granite towers in 1861. The new towers, which are the tallest lighthouses in Massachusetts, received enormous first-order Fresnel lenses and were first lit on October 1, 1861. Situated 298 yards apart, each tower is accessed through an enclosed brick passageway located on the west side of the tower's base, and contains a circular staircase (155 stairs) leading from the base to the lantern. In 1932, the use of the north tower was discontinued making it one of the last operational twin light stations on the Atlantic Coast. The south tower was electrified via a submarine cable to the mainland that same year and provided a more intense light. The south tower was automated and unmanned, when a modern optic replaced the Fresnel lens in 1979. The north tower's original Fresnel lens no longer exists, while the south tower's original Fresnel lens is displayed at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Museum in New London, Connecticut. In 1989, the north tower was relit as part of its restoration to serve as a private aid to navigation. In January 2001, the Cape Ann Light Station, including several associated outbuildings, received recognition as a National Historic Landmark.
Twin Lights Historic District--Cape Ann Light Station, a National Historic Landmark, is located on the north and southeast sides of Thacher Island. The island is about one mile off the coast of Rockport, about two miles from Gloucester Harbor, and about 30 miles north of Boston. The south tower and southeastern portion of the island (approximately 28 acres) was deeded to the Town of Rockport by the U.S. Coast Guard, which maintains the solar-powered optic. The north tower and northern end of the island (approximately 22 acres) is owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and managed by the Town of Rockport as a wildlife refuge. Access to the towers is not permitted. Thacher Island is open to the public and is accessible by boat or kayak only.
Situated on 1.2 acres, the existing main building and rear power house are some of the city's best examples of industrial architecture. The main building is a large 6-by-16 bay, wood-frame structure dating to 1884. It is currently sheathed with asbestos shingles added in the mid-20th century. Rising three stories from a brick foundation to the low-pitched roof with simple wooden cornice, these architectural features of the main building are typical of this period and of this type of industrial architecture. A one-story wing on the Grove Street elevation retains the original clapboard siding. The one-story, brick power house topped with a gable roof, also built in 1884, is centered behind the main building.
The Gloucester Net and Twine Company is located on the southeast corner of Maplewood Ave. and Grove St. in Gloucester. The buildings are used for industrial production today and are not open to the public.
A fire destroyed the original church in 1914. Prominent architect Halfdan M. Hanson designed and immediately began building the existing, unique Mission style church, which replaced the earlier church. It is the only Mission style church in Gloucester. Modeled after a church in the Azores, Our Lady of Good Voyage consists of two distinct sections: the two-story main worship space that is of a cruciform plan and an L-shaped rectory that extends from the northwest corner of the main worship space. The rectory, which was built between 1872 and 1884 as a separate building, was incorporated into the new church. Resting on a granite foundation, the building is covered in a buff-colored stucco. Flanked by two identical bell towers, the central bay of the façade is pierced by the main entrance at the first level. A rose window adorns the second level, above which rises an ogee pediment supporting a pedestal and a statue of Our Lady of Good Voyage, who holds a boat in her left hand as a symbol of a safe voyage. In 1922, bells were installed in the towers. These bells, still in place today, were cast by John Taylor & Company of England-the same foundry that cast Phildelphia's Liberty Bell.
Our Lady of Good Voyage is located at 142 Prospect St. in Gloucester and is an active church. For further information, call Our Lady of Good Voyage Parish at 978-283-1490.
The centerpiece of the district—East Gloucester Square—at the intersection of East Main, Highland and Plum Streets, is marked by a small cluster of turn-of-the-century commercial buildings. In 1704, city planners laid East Main Street out to access the Square and run along the harbor's edge. The dwellings on East Main Street generally date from the mid-19th century. They are modest, wood-frame buildings positioned close to one another, but set off from the street by shallow frontyards often defined by granite retaining walls. The street also encompasses both of the district's commercial areas and contains an array of well-preserved 19th- to early 20th-century marine industrial complexes, such as Reed & Gamage, the John F. Wonson Company Store and Gorton's, which include buildings, granite wharves and wooden piers. Highland Street forms the residential core of the district, with single-family houses tucked behind granite retaining walls that slope up the hill from the harbor to Mount Pleasant Avenue. The houses largely date to the mid- and late 19th century and reflect the expansive architectural tastes of the period ranging from the Greek Revival simplicity of the Henry Wonson House, to the flamboyant Second Empire George Douglass House, and the Italianate style represented in the Dr. Eveleth House. Of particular interest on Plum Street are the nearly identical Greek Revival cottages, such as the G. Gerring House, the C. Peterson House, the Herbert McQuin House and the J. S. McQuin House. Some of the most stylish, Italianate residences are situated on Mount Pleasant Avenue, such as the David Robinson House.
The East Gloucester Square Historic District is located in Gloucester on the Cape Ann peninsula. The district is bound by East Main, Highland and Plum sts. and Mount Pleasant Ave. The Gloucester Visitor Welcoming Center, in Stage Fort Park, is open from late May-late October, Thursday-Sunday, and daily during the summer months, from 9:00am to 6:00pm. Call 1-800-649-6839 or 978-281-8865 for further information on visiting Gloucester.
THEY THAT GO
The Gloucester Tercentenary Permanent Memorial Association sponsored an artistic competition to commemorate Gloucester's 300th anniversary and to permanently memorialize the thousands of fishermen lost at sea in the first three centuries of Gloucester's history. In 1879 alone, 249 fishermen and 29 vessels were lost during a terrible storm. In preparing for the competition, Craske spent many hours aboard fishing schooners, sketching and photographing fishermen at work. His design was accepted and cast at a cost of $10,000. Generally acknowledged as Craske's finest work, the Gloucester Fisherman's Memorial is viewed by thousands of visitors annually and has become a symbol of the city, commemorating Gloucester's link to the sea.
The Gloucester Fisherman's Memorial is located on the south side of Stacy Blvd. at the edge of Gloucester Harbor in Gloucester. It is owned by the City of Gloucester and is publicly accessible.
The Adventure represents the end of every aspect of the American fishing schooner era: their construction, romantic beauty, economic feasibility, mode of operation and the fishing industry in general. The Adventure fished out of Gloucester, America's oldest fishing port, from 1926-1934 and out of Boston from 1934-1953 and played a significant role in the most prosperous era of fisheries in the history of Massachusetts and the entire United States. It is one of the last three Gloucester fishing schooners built in Essex that are still afloat. The other two "Gloucestermen" are the 1925 L.A. Dunton berthed at Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, and the 1894 Ernestina in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Restoration on the vessel began shortly after the Adventure was donated to the people of Gloucester in 1988. The schooner was selected as an official project of Save America's Treasures by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1999. The Adventure serves as a memorial to the more than 5,000 Gloucester fishermen lost at sea.
The Adventure, a National Historic Landmark, is berthed at the Gloucester Marine Railways at 81 Rocky Neck Ave in Gloucester’s Rocky Neck Art Colony. It is owned and maintained by Gloucester Adventure, Inc. Tours are generally available (May-Sept) on Saturday mornings. Please call 978-281-8079 or visit the vessel's website to obtain the most up-to-date tour and sail information.
The present conical cast-iron tower replaced the original stone tower in 1881. Resting on a brick foundation, the tower is 30 feet tall and topped with a fifth-order lantern. Other associated buildings include a granite oil house (1821) and a keeper's dwelling. A U.S. Fish Hatchery was constructed on the island in 1889 and abandoned in 1954. In order to uphold Prohibition laws, the U.S. Coast Guard established an air station on the island in 1925. Ten Pound Island Light Station was decommissioned in 1956 and replaced by a modern optic atop an old bell tower on the island. The same optic was subsequently moved to a skeleton tower on the island. The original Fresnel lens was removed from the lantern and is currently on display at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland, Maine.
The Lighthouse Preservation Society based in Newburyport, Massachusetts initiated the restoration of Ten Pound Island Light in the late 1980s. At the completion of the project, the modern optic was installed atop the tower and relit as a Federal aid to navigation on August 7, 1989. Although the keeper's dwelling lies in ruins, the oil house underwent restoration in 1995. Today, Ten Pound Island Light continues to operate as an active aid to navigation.
Ten Pound Island Light Station is located on Ten Pound Island in Gloucester Harbor. The island is owned by the City of Gloucester, which maintains walking paths to the lighthouse. Ten Pound Island Light is owned and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard as a Federal aid to navigation and is closed to the public. The island is open to private boaters, however landing is difficult due to the lack of a landing facility. The light station can be viewed by boat or from several points along the Gloucester waterfront.
Operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, Eastern Point Light is an active aid to navigation and is closed to the public. In 1986, the light was automated and unmanned, though the dwellings continued to serve as housing for local U.S. Coast Guard personel. When the original fourth-order Fresnel lens was removed it was replaced by a modern optic. The Fresnel lens is now displayed at the Cape Ann Historical Museum in downtown Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Eastern Point Light Station is located on a rocky promontory overlooking Dog Bar Reef at the eastern entrance to Gloucester Harbor in Gloucester. It is an active aid to navigation and is closed to the public. A nearby breakwater and parking lot are open all year and provide good views of the light station.
The name of the light station stems from a smallpox hospital built on the site in 1801. Used as military barracks during the War of 1812, the hospital burned down in 1849. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Beverly and Salem served as active ports for both trade and fishing. Hospital Light was first lit in 1872, around the same time that the nearby Derby Wharf and Winter Island (Fort Pickering) lights were built, in a concerted effort to safely guide vessels into Salem and Beverly Harbors. In 1927, Hospital Point Light officially became the Hospital Point Range Front Light. That same year, a rear range light was installed in the steeple of Beverly's First Baptist Church, approximately one mile distant.
Although a majority of Fresnel lenses have been removed from U.S. lighthouses and replaced with modern, acrylic optics, Hospital Point Light Station retains its original third and one-half order Fresnel lens. In front of the lens is a condensing panel to diminish the intensity of the light if a mariner veers from the main channel into Salem Harbor. This condensing panel is also considered unique in American lighthouses.
Hospital Point Light Station is located on a rocky promontory on the west side of Beverly Cove on the main channel into Salem Harbor in Beverly. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, Hospital Point Light is an active aid to navigation and is closed to the public. The light station can be seen fairly well from nearby Bayview Avenue. The pier at Salem Willows Park in Salem provides a distant view, but it is best seen by boat. Approach is by a private road, and a fence and gate surround the property. The Coast Guard opens the lighthouse for tours on a Sunday each August as part of Beverly Homecoming Week (www.beverlyhomecoming.com)-an annual celebration for the citizens and friends of Beverly.
Beverly's maritime activity steadily declined after the Civil War, as did the residential neighborhoods, and the city became increasingly dependent on industry. In 1971, the Fish Flake Historic District was created by the City of Beverly to protect the area and foster improvements. The historic district contains 152 properties on 35 acres including the homes of several ship captains responsible for Beverly's early maritime success, such as the Captain William Gage House (pre-1750), the Captain Hugh Hill House (1780) and the Captain John Wallis House (1839). The district is primarily residential in character, composed of closely set houses constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries. Several commercial and industrial buildings—some associated with the district's heyday as a maritime center and others of more recent construction—are also included. Buildings are generally two or three stories in height. The predominant building material in the district is wood, with brick seen in only one residential and several commercial buildings.
The Fish Flake Hill Historic District overlooks Beverly Harbor and is roughly bounded by Cabot, Bartlett and Water sts. in Beverly. The Essex National Heritage Area Commission offers an "Early Settlement Trail" tour, which includes the Fish Flake Hill Historic District. For further information on the "Early Settlement Trail", please call 978-740-0444 or visit the Essex National Heritage Area website.
One of the most prominent buildings at the site is the U.S. Custom House constructed in 1819 on Derby Street overlooking Salem Harbor. The Custom House was the last of 13 customhouses in the city of Salem. The first was established by the British Government in 1649 to collect taxes on imported cargos, and in 1789, the U.S. Congress established a customs district in Salem as one of its first acts under the newly-ratified Constitution. Before the start of the 19th century, customhouses could often be found in the houses of the customs collector or in rented space along the waterfront. Built at the same time and connected to the Custom House, the three-story Public Stores was a bonded warehouse. It was used by the Customs Service to hold cargo for merchants until they were able to pay the duties on their goods. In addition, in 1829, a scale house was constructed behind the Custom House and was used as a storage facility for the equipment required for weighing cargo that was unloaded from a ship.
Directly in front of the Custom House are two of Salem's most historically active wharfs—Central Wharf and Derby Wharf. During Salem's heyday both wharfs would have been lined with warehouses of local merchants. Other historic buildings within Salem Maritime National Historic Site include the home of one of Salem's most successful merchants—the Derby House (1762), a ship captain—the Narbonne House (1675/1740), and a ship builder—the Hawkes House (1800), as well as a commercial building, the West India Dry Goods Store, which was built by Captain Henry Prince about 1804 and used as a warehouse and shop.
Salem Maritime National Historic Site is located at 178 Derby St. in Salem. It is managed by the National Park Service and is also part of the Essex National Heritage Area. An In-Depth Virtual Tour is offered on the park's website. Salem Maritime National Historic Site is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm; closed major holidays. Ranger-guided tours of the Friendship, a full-size replica of a 1797 Salem merchant vessel, the Custom House, the Derby House and the Narbonne House are available for a small fee. Please call 978-740-1650 or visit the park's website to obtain the most up-to-date tour information.Salem Maritime National Historic Site, as well as houses and commercial buildings of the surrounding area. Houses of the local merchants and gentry were located on the north side of Derby Street, facing the counting rooms, warehouses, ship chandlers' stores, pump-makers' shops, sail-makers' lofts and the wharves themselves. Noted Federal period merchants' houses include the Miles Ward House, the Simon Forrester House and the Benjamin Crowninshield House.
The Miles Ward House at the corner of Herbert and Derby Streets was built in the 1730s for Richard Derby. Elias Hasket Derby, a prosperous merchant of the 18th century, grew up in the house and would settle in a brick Georgian-style house just a few doors away after his marriage to Elizabeth Crowninshield. In the Custom House chapter of the Scarlet Letter, Nathanial Hawthorne refers to E.H. Derby as "King Derby." Further down Derby at 180 is the Benjamin W. Crowninshield House, a large Federal brick mansion built from 1810 to 1812. Crowinshield, a member of an important Massachusetts merchant family served as a U.S. Congressman and as the Secretary of the Navy under Presidents James Madison and James Monroe. The house was later occupied by General James Miller while serving as collector of the Port of Salem from 1825 to 1829. In 1861, the house became a home for aged women, a purpose it still serves today. It was expanded considerably in 1906 and 1916 to accommodate its new purpose. At 188 Derby is the house of Simon Forrester, a prosperous merchant and former ship captain. Forrester, of Scotch-Irish descent, came to America after signing on to the Salem schooner Salisbury captained by Daniel Hawthorne—grandfather to the author Nathanial Hawthorne—in the late 1760s. The design of the substantial wooden house is credited to Samuel McIntire though it has been altered over time with many of its distinguishing architectural elements removed.
The district also includes the House of Seven Gables Complex. The centerpiece is the House of Seven Gables, the inspiration for Nathanial Hawthorne's novel and a rare surviving large 17th-century, wooden house. The complex includes several other important buildings related to the maritime history of Salem, some of which were moved to the site to ensure their preservation, including the Nathanial Hawthorne birthplace, the Retire Beckett House, the Counting House, the Hathaway House, Emmerton Hall, the Phippen House and the Doret House.
The Derby Waterfront District is located in the waterfront area of Salem. It includes both sides of Derby St. between Herbert St. and Block House Square and the streets to the south of Derby St. from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site to Blaney St. Many of the houses and buildings within the district are privately owned and used for residential and commercial purposes. Guided tours of the House of Seven Gables Complex are offered mid-January through December, from 10:00am to 5:00pm, with later hours until 7:00pm from July-October, and until 11:00pm on October weekends only; closed major holidays. There is a fee for admission. Please call 978-744-0991 or visit the House of Seven Gables website for further information.
The Derby Wharf Light Station, administered by the National Park Service's Salem Maritime National Historic Site, is located at the end of Derby Wharf on the west side of Salem Harbor in Salem. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains the modern acrylic optic. The Derby Wharf is open all year and visitors can walk out to the tower. For more information visit the park's website or call 978-740-1650.
Nathaniel Bowditch HouseNathaniel Bowditch was a prominent 18th-century mariner who effected great advances in navigation and helped bring European mathematics to America. Bowditch was born in Salem in 1773. He was schooled up to the age of 10, when he went to work in his father's cooperage. Two years later he was apprenticed to a local ship chandler (a store specializing in nautical provisions and supplies). However, his love of learning never ceased and in the hours he was not working, he taught himself Latin and French, studied mathematics including algebra and calculus, as well as science and astronomy. When his apprenticeship ended in 1795, he left on the first of five voyages to the East Indies. While at sea, he continued to educate himself by studying sailing charts and navigation, taking lunar measurements and filling notebooks with his observations.
It was during these voyages that Bowditch documented thousands of mistakes in The Practical Navigator, a manual of navigation written by Englishman John Hamilton Moore. Bowditch would later write his own manual on navigation, The New American Practical Navigator, which also included tide tables, astronomical tables, the duties of officers and a textbook on navigation. First published in 1802, the book became every seaman's bible and was often referred to simply as a "Bowditch." It was updated and republished several times during Bowditch's lifetime. Rights to the book were purchased in 1866 by the Federal government, which continues to publish the book today. The most recent edition was published in 2002.
During his time at sea Bowditch took on increasingly more important jobs, and on his fifth voyage he was both master and part owner of the ship. After this trip he returned to Salem, where he continued his mathematical studies and entered the insurance business. Bowditch became president of the Essex Fire and Marine Insurance Company and in 1811 bought a three-story, Federal style clapboard house at 312 Essex Street for his growing family. During the years he lived in the house, Bowditch began work translating Pierre Laplace's Traité de mécanique céleste, the great work on mathematics and theoretical astronomy.
Bowditch's study in the fields of science and mathematics earned him widespread recognition. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1799 and to the Edinburgh and London Royal Societies in 1818. In addition, Bowditch was offered positions at several prominent colleges including Harvard, West Point and the University of Virginia, all of which he turned down. In 1823, Bowditch left the Essex Fire and Marine Insurance Company and Salem to become an actuary for the Massachusetts Hospital Life Insurance Company. He died in Boston in 1838.
To save the house in Salem that Bowditch had occupied for more than a decade, it was moved to North Street when Essex Street was widened in the 1940s. In 1965, the house was designated a National Historic Landmark, further recognizing Nathanial Bowditch's contributions to both academia and navigation.
The Nathaniel Bowditch House, a National Historic Landmark, is located at 9 North St. in Salem. It is owned by Historic Salem Inc., which completed an exterior restoration in 2003. Interior renovations are currently underway. A walking tour entitled "Bowditch's Salem, A Walking Tour of the Great Age of Sail" was published by the Salem Maritime National Historic Site in partnership with Historic Salem Inc. and The House of Seven Gables. The brochure can be accessed online through the Essex National Heritage Area's website.
Marblehead Light Marblehead Light Station is one of about 14 examples of pyramidal skeletal lighthouses surviving in the United States today, as well as the only one of its kind in New England. The 105-foot tall, cast-iron structure with a central tower cylinder was built in 1896, although Marblehead Light Station was first established in 1835. As Marblehead Neck grew in popularity as a summer resort, the surrounding residential development eventually obscured the original 20-foot tall, conical brick tower. In 1883, a light was placed atop a 100-foot tall wooden mast next to the original light tower until the present tower was constructed.
The exoskeleton framework consists of eight vertical cast-iron supports canting inwards, four of which attach directly under the watch room. Metal beams connect to the vertical supports in four places. Diagonal adjustable tie rods provide additional support for the structure. A circular metal staircase ascends from the entrance at the base of the tower cylinder to the watch room. A slanted ship's ladder leads from the watch room to the lantern. The original keeper's quarters was demolished in 1959, but a brick oil house situated southwest of the tower still stands.
Beginning in 1884 with the Sanibel Island Light Station in Florida, the Lighthouse Board adopted a standardized plan for skeletal lighthouses measuring about 100 feet in height and featuring a square footprint. These lighthouses had watch rooms and lantern rooms, each surrounded by a gallery. Another distinctive feature in the design of these taller towers is an extra leg, or vertical cast-iron support, between each corner support running about half way up the side of each face.
Marblehead Light Station is located on the north point of Marblehead Neck at the east entrance of Marblehead Harbor. It is within Chandler Hovey Park, which is managed by the town of Marblehead and remains open to the public all year. The U.S. Coast Guard owns and manages Marblehead Light. An active aid to navigation, Marblehead Light is currently licensed to the Marblehead Rotary Club and is open to the public by special arrangement only.
Naval Hospital Boston Historic District (Chelsea Naval Hospital) At the time the Boston Naval Hospital closed its doors in 1974, it was the oldest naval hospital in continuous service in the United States. The hospital, which was commissioned and opened on January 7, 1836, was one of the first three hospitals specifically authorized by Congress to accommodate naval personnel. Previously, navy personnel received treatment at marine hospitals, which the U.S. Department of Treasury operated for all mariners. Originally called "Naval Hospital at Charlestown (Chelsea Site)," then "Naval Hospital Chelsea," and finally "Naval Hospital Boston," it served naval personnel and others during the Civil War, Spanish-American War, the Chelsea Fire of 1908, World War I and World War II. At the time the hospital shut its doors it comprised approximately 88 acres of land on the Mystic River with five historic buildings erected between 1836 and 1915, as well as several other buildings built after 1915.
The original 1836 granite-block hospital building was constructed near the river and could accommodate about 100 patients. A wing was added on the west side in 1865 and an addition to the north end in 1903. A new hospital building was constructed further up the hill and away from the river in 1915 and the old building was converted to quarters for hospital personnel.
Before the first hospital building was completed, several acres of land near the river were transferred to the Bureau of Ordnance and two single story stone structures were built. The larger of the two buildings was used as an ordnance magazine and was constructed in such a way that if there was an explosion it would be directed upward through the roof rather than outward through the walls. Both buildings were returned to the hospital in 1910 and the smaller building was converted into quarters for the Chief Radio Operator for the radio station on site. After the station was discontinued both buildings functioned as storage space.
In December 1857, a parcel of land was sold to the Treasury Department for the erection of a new marine hospital. Originally a three-story building, it was built with an I-shaped footprint. A fourth-story was added in 1866 with a mansard roof. It often served as overflow space for the naval hospital. The building and property were returned to the Navy Department in 1940 and the building was converted into barracks. After the Naval Hospital closed, the property was turned over to the City of Chelsea for redevelopment. The original naval hospital and the marine hospital buildings were converted into condominiums in the early 1980s. Also still extant are the ordnance buildings and the Commanding Officer's quarters, parts of which date to 1856.
The Naval Hospital Boston Historic District (Chelsea Naval Hospital) is located along the Mystic River, west of the Northeast Expressway, in Chelsea. While the buildings are now privately owned, they can be viewed from the street. The Commanding Officer's Quarters, Naval Hospital building and ordnance buildings are all located on Commandant's Way, and the Marine Hospital building is located on Captains Row.
Boston Naval Shipyard (Charlestown Navy Yard) Established in 1800, Charlestown Navy Yard (formally designated the Boston Naval Shipyard in 1945) played an important role in the birth, growth and continued effectiveness of the U.S. Navy. The men and women employed at the Charlestown Navy Yard built more than 200 warships, maintained and repaired thousands of others, and proved their worth in each of the Nation's wars throughout its 174-year history. The Yard, consisting of industrial buildings, cranes, dry docks, slips, piers, residences and military buildings, is situated along the southeastern Charlestown waterfront in Boston's inner harbor. Some of the historically significant structures located within the boundaries of Charlestown Navy Yard are Dry Dock 1, which was built in 1827 as one of the first two dry docks in the country; the ropewalk designed by Alexander Parris, which began operation in 1838; and the chain forge, built in 1904, where die-lock chain was invented and perfected for production in 1926.
Built between 1827 and 1833 the Charlestown Naval Dry Dock, Boston, Massachusetts and the Gosport Naval Dry Dock, Norfolk, Virginia are two of the earliest major structures of their type in the United States. Despite the lack of scientific knowledge of hydraulics and geotechnology at the time, Loammi Baldwin II and his associated engineers successfully completed these projects which served the U.S. Navy for well over a century.
Throughout its history the Charlestown Navy Yard has been referred to by a number of different names. Navy tradition dictates that a shore station or yard was named after the largest city in the geographical area—in this case the U.S. Navy Yard, Boston. However, most yards were known by multiple names, the alternative, like Charlestown, usually being the name of the actual place where the yard was located. Throughout the 19th century, "navy yard at Boston " and "navy yard at Charlestown " frequently appeared in both correspondence and Congressional legislation, often interchangeably. It does not appear that there was ever a formal order naming the facility until the November 1945 reorganization of naval shore establishments, when it became the Boston Naval Shipyard.
The shipyard closed in 1974, and that same year Congress passed the Boston National Historical Park Act of 1974. The act formalized Charlestown Navy Yard as the legal name of the property, and thirty acres of the original 129.5-acre navy yard were designated as part of the park. The remainder of the property was turned over to the City of Boston for redevelopment. The park contains 20 buildings, Dry Dock 1, three piers, and an assemblage of artifacts including a large collection of navy documents relating to the history of the facility. The USS Constitution and USS Cassin Young are also displayed, representing the types of vessels built in this shipyard.
Boston Naval Shipyard is located on the south side of Chelsea St. in the Charlestown area of Boston. It has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Thirty acres of the shipyard are managed by the National Park Service as part of Boston National Historical Park. Visitors are invited to begin at the Charleston Navy Yard Visitor Information Center located on the Freedom Trail near Gate 1 of the Navy Yard. The Information Center is open daily and provides program schedules. For further information on tour schedules or to make group reservations, visit the park's website or call 617-242-5601. The remainder of the shipyard property has been redeveloped for housing, offices and research laboratories. Various historic buildings related to the shipyard can be viewed on the streets located directly east and west of the park.
USS Constitution Designed by Joshua Humphreys, the frigate USS Constitution was launched at Edmond Hartt Shipyard in Boston on October 21, 1797. Completed at a cost of $302,718, it carried a crew of 450 to 500 men, measured 204 feet in length with a beam of 43.5 feet and displaced 2,200 tons of water. The USS Constitution was one of six ships ordered by President George Washington to protect America's growing maritime interests. Humphreys incorporated the best features of existing English and French naval vessels and then designed ships powerful enough to defeat any enemy of equal size, yet faster than any stronger opponent. Although renowned for its ability to punish French privateers in the Caribbean and Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean, the USS Constitution's greatest accomplishment came during the War of 1812 when it defeated four British frigates. The USS Constitution earned the nickname "Old Ironsides" after battling the British ship Guerriere on August 19, 1812. British cannonballs seemed to bounce off its thick wooden sides, which were comprised of three layers of oak, and fall into the water.
The USS Constitution returned to Boston in 1815 and remained there for six years before serving again in the Mediterranean from 1821 to 1828. A board of naval commissioners deemed the vessel unseaworthy and recommended the ship for scrapping in 1829. However, Oliver Wendell Holmes' popular poem entitled, "Old Ironsides," caused a wave of public protest that subsequently saved the ship and led to its restoration. The USS Constitution performed many military tasks throughout the remainder of the 19th century, including service as both a barracks and training ship. Restored again in 1927, the USS Constitution toured coastal waters before being moored at the Boston Naval Shipyard in 1934. The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world and gained National Historic Landmark status in 1960. It is manned today by an active duty U.S. Navy crew of 55 men and women.
The USS Constitution, a National Historic Landmark, is berthed in Boston Naval Shipyard (Boston National Historical Park), on the south side of Chelsea St. in the Charlestown area of Boston. It is operated and maintained by the U.S. Navy in cooperation with the National Park Service. The USS Constitution is open from April 1 to October 31, Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00am to 6:00pm, and from November 1 to March 3, Thursday-Sunday from 10:00am to 3:50pm. The USS Constitution Museum is also located in Boston National Historical Park in Building 22, adjacent to the ship. The museum is open from 9:00am to 6:00pm in the summer and from 10:00am to 5:00pm in the winter. For further information on tour schedules or to make group reservations, call 617-242-5671 or visit the ship's website.
USS Cassin Young Built by Bethlehem Steel Corporation in San Pedro, California, and commissioned on December 31, 1943, the USS Cassin Young (DD-793) was at the forefront of the naval offensive against the Japanese during World War II. The USS Cassin Young, a destroyer of the Fletcher-class, measures 376 feet in length and 40 feet in width, and carried 273 crew members during wartime. Destroyers were first built in the early 20th century in response to the development of small, fast torpedo boats designed to attack and sink larger battleships and cruisers. As a counter against torpedo boats, navies built destroyers, which were larger ships armed with torpedoes and heavier guns. Destroyers were prepared to fight off attacks from the air, on the surface or from below the water. Fletcher-class destroyers were considered the best destroyers of the period, and 175 of these ships were built between 1941 and 1945.
The USS Cassin Young was named after U.S. Navy Captain Cassin Young, who received the Medal of Honor for bravery during the attack on Pearl Harbor and died in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on November 13, 1942. The USS Cassin Young served with distinction in the Pacific during the war and participated extensively in the Okinawa campaign where two Kamikaze attacks struck the vessel. The USS Cassin Young underwent repairs in California and was subsequently decommissioned in 1946. Recalled into service at the outbreak of the Korean War, the vessel served until 1960 when it was again decommissioned. During this period, USS Cassin Young was modernized several times by the Boston Naval Shipyard.
USS Cassin Young, a National Historic Landmark administered by the National Park Service, is located at Pier 1 in Boston Naval ShipYard, (Boston National Historical Park) on the south side of Chelsea St. in the Chalrestown area of Boston. Tours of the ship are available daily April-November from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and December-March on a more limited basis. For further information on tour schedules, call 617-242-5601 or visit the ship's website.Charlestown Navy Yard, assembled ships into convoys and rescued torpedoed and damaged ships in coastal waters. The full-size (more than 90-foot long) tugboat features a one-level pilothouse, side ladders from the main deck and to the boat deck, and two masts that were typical of Boston Tow Boat tugs. The Luna's design combines a traditional overall appearance with innovations, such as the installation of a diesel-electric mechanical drive system that marked an important transition in tugboat architecture in the second quarter of the 20th century. This type of engine permitted Luna to tow or push barges, freighters and liners, and conduct salvage operations with ease and better maneuverability.
The Luna is significant for its enduring and longstanding career in association with the maritime history of Boston Harbor. The vessel was the first of its class built for a commercial tugboat company and also one of the last wooden-hulled tugboats constructed. The Luna is the only diesel-electric tugboat still running in the United States and is the last full-sized, wooden-hulled tug in existence on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. After retiring in 1971, the Luna narrowly escaped disposal and remained on the Boston waterfront as an office and residence. It sank in the Charles River in 1992 and remained there for a year before being raised. The Luna Preservation Society, Inc. took possession of the Luna and began restoration work in March 1995.
The Luna (tugboat), a National Historic Landmark, is located at the east side of Commonwealth Pier in South Boston. It is owned and maintained by the Luna Preservation Society, Inc. Tours are available on selected Saturdays. Please call 617-282-1941 or visit the tug's website to obtain the most up-to-date tour information.
The Atwood family is known to have operated a number of oyster shops in Boston since at least 1818. Originally known as Atwood's Oyster House, the restaurant became Atwood & Hawes from approximately 1842 to 1860 and Atwood & Bacon from the late 1800s to 1916. At this point, it is believed that the open coal range on which oysters were roasted was installed in the kitchen. By 1916 the establishment was simply referred to as Union Oyster House, the name it holds today.
After 87 years in business the Atwood family sold the oyster house in 1913 to the Fitzgerald family who owned the property until at least 1927. The Greaves brothers of Nova Scotia, Canada, owned the property by 1940 and began to operate satellite branches in other parts of town. The restaurant itself had been expanded in 1933 when a second floor dining room seating 50 persons opened. In 1941, the oyster house opened three new dining rooms on the second floor and installed a new kitchen and bakery with all new cooking and dishwashing equipment. The Greaves sold the restaurant in 1970 to Joseph Milano, whose family continues to run the renowned restaurant today.
Union Oyster House consists of the original 1716-17 building and two adjoining brick row houses. However, the adjoining buildings, while dating from 1851 and 1916, were not incorporated into the restaurant until the late 20th century. The original restaurant is a five-bay, three-and-a-half story gambrel-roofed building in the Georgian style. The form of the building is unusual—the three southern most-bays face Union Street while the two northern-most bays face Marshall Street. The two facades are connected by a vertical joint line in the brick work. Prior to becoming an oyster house, the building was a private residence and later a dry goods store.
The interior section of the original oyster house retains an unusually high degree of integrity. The soapstone oyster bar and stall-type booths are the only known survivors in the United States. The oyster bar is an open semi-circular oak counter with a soapstone inner shucking table and drain. However, the soapstone slab was covered with copper sheet metal by at least the 1940s, most likely to comply with health codes. The bar is surrounded by nine stools fastened to the floor; the tops are flat wooden discs supported by cast iron poles.
Famous patrons include Senator Daniel Webster who was a regular in the 1840s and 1850s; Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and William J. Clinton, as well as governors, athletes, and stage and screen stars visiting Boston. In fact, booth 18 on the second floor was a favorite of President Kennedy's and was dedicated to his memory in 1977.
The Union Oyster House is located at 41 Union St. in Boston. It is open for business Sunday- Thursday 11:00am to 9:30pm and Friday and Saturday from 11:00am to 10:00pm. For further information call 617-227-2750 or visit www.unionoysterhouse.com.
In 1900, Union Wharf was purchased by Metropolitan Steamship Company, which already owned nearby India Wharf and operated steamers between Boston and cities and towns in Maine. After experiencing several periods of reorganization, the Metropolitan Steamship Company eventually sold the property to Robert P. Gable and Frank Leeder in 1945. The J.L. Kelso Company used the warehouse for storing goods until it was sold to Union Wharf Development Associates in 1977, who converted it to housing. Today, six buildings occupy Union Wharf but only the warehouse is considered historically significant.
Union Wharf is located on the Boston waterfront opposite the North End. The irregularly shaped bulkhead extends west from the Inner Harbor 590 feet and includes the building at 295-353 Commercial St. It is owned and operated by Union Wharf Development Associates. Now used for housing, the warehouse is not open to the public.
In its heyday, Long Wharf was 1,586 feet in length and 54 feet wide, providing docking facilities for up to 50 vessels. In the 18th century, Boston was the leading colonial port (it would be surpassed by both New York and Philadelphia by the end of the century). Long Wharf was the nucleus of Boston's maritime trade—by the end of the 18th century it reigned pre-eminent among Boston's 80 wharves, handling both international and coastal trade. Its extraordinary length allowed large ships to dock and unload directly into warehouses without the use of small boats. Because the wharf served private merchants and the public, who could buy directly from the warehouses and stores on the wharf, it was a marketplace long before the construction of Faneuil Hall (Quincy Market) in the 1820s.
In addition to the economic importance of the wharf, it was also associated with the military history of Boston. Among the events that occurred here were the landing of British troops in 1770 to enforce the King's laws and the evacuation of the same troops in March 1776; the landing of a vessel from Philadelphia bringing news of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; and during the Revolution, privateers and blockade runners sailed from Long Wharf and military stores were kept in its warehouses.
After the Revolutionary War, trade resumed its dominant position on the wharf. In addition to the ongoing trade with Europe, Boston merchants engaged in trade with China and the East Indies, depositing silks, madras and cashmere in the warehouses of Long Wharf. In 1830, the first locomotive to arrive in America was brought from England and landed at the wharf. After the Civil War, trade declined in Boston and so did the importance of Long Wharf with business shifting from international trade to coastal trade and fishing. In 1871 Captain Lorenzo Baker of Wellfleet, Massachusetts, landed the first cargo of bananas in Boston at Long Wharf. Banana importation would continue at Long Wharf up to World War II.
The wharf and the buildings that occupied it necessarily changed over time to meet the needs of Boston's maritime commerce. In addition, infill on the land side of the wharf greatly decreased its length, as did the construction of Old Atlantic Avenue across the west end of Long Wharf and its neighbor to the south Central Wharf. Surviving historic buildings on Long Wharf include the granite block Custom House, which dates from 1848 and the Chart House, which dates from the 1830s and is representative of the earlier form of brick warehouses that occupied the wharf. Shortly after construction was completed on the Custom House Block, it was leased to the Federal government for customs work. The Chart House was built with large cellars for storing cargo, which was then sold at its doors. Buildings much like it would have lined the north side of Long Wharf from its inception in 1710 until the 19th century.
The Long Wharf and Custom House Block, a National Historic Landmark, is located at the end of State St. and east of Atlantic Ave. in Boston Harbor. The wharf buildings have been converted to residential, commercial and office spaces. On the northwest side of the wharf, a wood planked walkway is lined with benches, and at the end of Long Wharf, there is a large plaza, a covered shelter and a pink stone compass rose, which is set into the ground. Various tour boat operators are located on the wharf and dock their vessels here.
The U.S. Custom House, the building for which the district is named, is located in McKinley Square. Designed by Ammi B. Young in the Greek Revival-style and constructed from 1834 to 1847, the U.S. Custom House was expanded with a 25-story tower addition in 1915 to accommodate additional office space for revenue agents. The tower addition was designed by the prominent Boston architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns, who also completed plans for two other buildings within the district. As a Federally-owned property, the customhouse was exempt from the local building codes of the time and was thus the most prominent feature of the Boston skyline for more than 30 years.
Until the introduction of the Federal income tax, the United States government relied on the duties and taxes collected by the Customs Service at Boston's wharfs. To the southeast of the U.S. Custom House is the head of Central Wharf, which once possessed the longest continuous block of warehouses in the country and housed many prominent merchants. It was constructed circa 1816 and exemplifies the engineering of Boston's early 19th-century maritime buildings. Atop it were built 54 brick stores; today only 8 of these remain. By the turn of the century, the ports of New York and Philadelphia had eclipsed Boston in terms of commerce; however, Boston remained a bustling seaport transporting both goods and people. Constructed in 1901, Chase and Sanborn's immense six-story brick warehouse at 141-149 Broad Street was the last warehouse built in the Custom House District. The company was founded in 1864 by Caleb Chase and James Sanborn. The men were tea and coffee dealers, who innovated the way coffee was distributed, shifting from bulk to packaged goods. In addition, two major transatlantic shipping lines sited their offices on State Street during the first decade of the 20th century—the Compagnie Generale Transatlantique was headquartered in the Postal Telegraph Buillding at 100-110 State Street and the Cunard Line, a pioneering British-owned transatlantic steamship company, constructed its local headquarters at 122-130 State Street.
The Custom House District is roughly bounded by the J.F.K. Expwy., Kirby, S. Market, High and Batterymarch sts. in downtown Boston. Some buildings within the district are commercial and open during normal business hours. The U.S. Custom House is now a hotel operated by Marriott; visit www.marriott.com for further information.
The City of Boston granted building permits for the three extant buildings on Russia Wharf in 1897, and construction was completed the following year. The Russia Wharf Buildings were initially constructed for commercial use on the first two floors and light industrial use above. Each brick building was seven stories high and designed in Classical Revival style. All were occupied by notable printing and publishing businesses early on. Although built by at least two different firms, the buildings exhibit strong repetition of scale, materials, trim and corner-entrance motifs, and are significant as an intact trio of turn-of-the-century commercial/industrial buildings in an otherwise altered waterfront area. The Boston architectural firms of Rand and Taylor, and Kendall and Stevens, designed the Russia Wharf building located at 270 Congress Street, which is also known as the Graphic Art Building. Peabody and Stearns, Boston's most skilled and prominent architecture firm of the period, designed the Russia Wharf building located at 518-540 Atlantic Avenue.
The Russia Wharf Buildings are located on the eastern side of the Boston peninsula, occupying the northern side of Congress St. between Atlantic Ave. and the Fort Point Channel. Owned by the Russia Wharf Company, they now serve as office buildings.
Designed in Greek Revival style, the Mariner's House is a four-and-one-half story, red brick building. It consists of the main block, which faces the street, and a four-story ell that projects at an angle from the northwest corner of the main block. The ell appears to have been original to the building, but was only three stories in height. On January 16, 1998, the building was closed for a major interior remodeling to bring the accommodations up to present-day standards for first-class boardinghouses. The Boston Port and Seamen's Aid Society continues to operate the Mariner's House today, providing hospitality and guidance to the professional mariner.
The Mariner's House is located at 11 N. Square in Boston's North End. It is owned and operated by the Boston Port and Seamen's Aid Society. The boardinghouse underwent a complete renovation in 1998-1999, adding modern amenities, elegantly-appointed common areas and four floors of unique guest rooms at affordable rates. Guests must show proof of active maritime service to reserve a room at the Mariner's House. For more information call 617-227-3979 or visit the Mariner's House website.
Long Island Head Light was automated in 1929 and deactivated in 1982. Relit in 1985 using a solar-powered optic, Long Island Light remains an active aid to navigation. The U.S. Coast Guard repaired the tower's interior in 1994. In 1998, the exterior was repainted and some of the original brick, mortar and iron work replaced.
Long Island Head Light is located on the northeastern end of Long Island at the entrance to Boston's Inner Harbor. It is owned and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard as an active aid to navigation. Long Island is one of 34 islands comprising Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, which is managed by a 13-member partnership that includes the National Park Service and other public and private organizations. A bridge connects the City of Quincy, Massachusetts, with Long Island, but use of the bridge is highly restricted. Both the island and the light station are closed to the public and are best seen by boat. Further information can be found on the websites of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area and Boston Harbor Islands Partnership.
The daybeacon is composed of a rectangular granite block base or platform, which is topped by a truncated, wooden eight-sided pyramid encased in a thin coating of concrete. It is painted black except for a band of white around the middle. The pyramid was originally covered in slate shingles; the concrete was likely applied to the structure sometime between the World Wars. Access to the pyramid is provided by a granite block stairway at the south side of the base. The pyramid's hollow interior contains a mortise and tenon structure, which is supported by cross-members extending from a center column.
In the early 1800s, the Boston Marine Society recognized the danger the disappearing island posed. In December 1803 the Society reported to Congress on the dangerous conditions at Nix's Mate and appealed to Congress to build a wall around what remained of the island on which to place a warning beacon. Congress declined to act and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts purchased what remained of Nix's Mate Island and authorized $3,000 to construct the wall and beacon.
By 1832, the island and improvements were sold to the U.S. government, who began building a stone platform topped by a wooden pyramidal monument. It is likely that stones from the 1805-1806 wall were used in the construction of the platform. In 1841, the wooden pyramid burned after being struck by lightning but was rebuilt.
Today, despite an extensive system of buoys, Nix's Mate remains an important navigational aid in Boston Harbor. It was slated for removal and replacement in 2001. However, after public outcry the U.S. Coast Guard began a major restoration of the daybeacon in 2003 shoring up the stone base in an effort to prevent further erosion.
Nix's Mate Daybeacon is located at the entrance to Boston Harbor. It is best viewed by boat though it can be seen from other Boston Harbor islands including Deer, Lovells and Gallops, which are all part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. For more information see the Boston Harbor Islands Visitor Guide.
Attached to the base is an enclosed workroom that provides access to the tower. By 1809, six heavy iron bands were placed around the tower to strengthen it. The circular, iron staircase (76 stairs) was installed in 1844. Further alterations occurred in 1859, when the height of the tower was increased from 75 feet to 89 feetl, and a new lantern room and second-order Fresnel lens were added. Since that time, no major structural changes have been made. As had been done during the War of 1812, the Boston Light was dimmed during World War I, and it was completely extinguished during World War II to reduce usefulness to enemy ships. Electrified in 1948 and automated in 1998, Boston Light still employs the original Fresnel lens. Boston Harbor Light Station was designated a National Historic Landmark in January 1964. Preservation groups appealed to Congress and the U.S. Coast Guard, and funding was appropriated to keep U.S. Coast Guard staff at the light station, thereby making it the last manned light in the Nation.
Boston Light Station, a National Historic Landmark, is located on Little Brewster Island. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, Boston Light Station is an active aid to navigation. It is open by guided tour only and reservations are recommended. Call 617-223-8666 for information on 3 ½ hour public cruises to the island from early June to mid-October, on Thursdays-Sundays. Little Brewster Island is one of 34 islands comprising Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, which is managed by a 13-member partnership that includes the National Park Service and other public and private organizations. The island is open to private boaters on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 12:30pm to 3:00pm for drop-off and pick-up only. No docking is permitted and boaters must anchor offshore. Further information can be found on the websites of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area and Boston Harbor Islands Partnership.
The Captain John Wilson House is the last relatively unaltered building remaining from the early years of the commercial maritime era of the town of Cohasset. Designed by David Nicholas, the two-and-one-half-story, wood-framed, Federal-style building was built in 1810. A rear, second-story addition was built around 1830. Originally, the first story was likely used as a ship chandlery or other commercial space, while the second story served as domestic space and today houses an extensive collection of furniture, artifacts and artwork representing 19th-century Cohasset.
The Captain John Wilson House and Bates Ship Chandlery are located next to each other at the intersection of S. Main and Elm sts., at 4 Elm St., in the Cohasset Center business district of Cohasset. Both are owned and maintained by the Cohasset Historical Society and serve as museum space. The buildings are open to the public throughout the summer. Please call 781-383-1434 or visit the Cohasset Historical Society's website for further information.
The five-story, 113-foot tall tower is constructed of granite blocks cut at Rockport, Massachusetts, and transported by steamer to the site. A 40-foot high ladder ascends from the base of the tower to the entrance. The first story was used as storage space; the second story was the engine room and contained the fog signal equipment; and the third story was the kitchen. The keepers lived on the fourth and fifth stories. A water cistern was located in the base of the tower. The original first-order Fresnel lens was lit on September 1, 1905, and emitted a light of approximately 380,000 candlepower. Later intensified to 3.2 million candlepower, the light served as New England's most powerful light for many years. Upon automation in 1976, the original Fresnel lens was replaced by a modern optic. A severe storm destroyed the fog signal building in 1991, but the original oil house is still standing. The Graves Light is closed to the public and best viewed by boat, although distant views are obtained from the towns of Winthrop, Nahant and Hull.
Graves Light Station is located on The Graves, and is owned and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard as an active aid to navigation. The island and the light station are closed to the public. The Graves is one of 34 islands comprising Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area, which is managed by a 13-member partnership that includes the National Park Service and other public and private organizations. The tiny island is adjacent to the Boston North Channel east of Winthrop.
The Massachusetts' coastline at one time featured 32 lifesaving stations of which only 11 remain. Only two of the existing stations are older than Point Allerton, and both have been converted into private residences. Known as the most active lifesaving station on the East Coast, Point Allerton is famous for the central role it played in Massachusetts maritime history, as well as its associations with Captain Joshua James (1826-1902). James was born in Hull and devoted 60 of his 75 years to saving over 1,000 lives from shipwrecks in Boston Harbor. He received several lifesaving medals and other acknowledgements throughout his illustrious career.
In the late 1960s, the new Point Allerton Coast Guard Station replaced Point Allerton Lifesaving Station. The historic building was converted into the Hull Lifesaving Museum, the museum of Boston Harbor Heritage, whose mission is to preserve the region's lifesaving tradition and maritime culture through collections, exhibits, experiential and interpretive education, and research. The museum traces the history of organized lifesaving from its 18th-century roots to the modern Coast Guard, celebrates the life of Joshua James, displays a variety of lifesaving equipment and houses a collection of books and manuscripts by noted author Edward Rowe Snow.
Point Allerton Lifesaving Station is located at 1117 Nantasket Ave. in Hull. It is owned by Boston Harbor Heritage and is open to the public year round, Wednesday-Saturday, 10:00am to 4:00pm. For further information, please call 781-925-5433 or visit the Hull Lifesaving Museum's website.
In 1989, a replica of the second-order lantern atop Minot's Ledge Light was constructed on nearby Government Island. The original Fresnel lens, which had been removed from the tower and replaced by a modern optic, is displayed inside the replica lantern. The fog bell from Minot's Ledge is also exhibited. The original keeper's house, which was constructed on Government Island in 1858 and housed off-duty keepers and their families, underwent restoration in 1992 and 1993. It contains two apartments upstairs and a hall for community use downstairs. Considered one of the greatest achievements in American lighthouse engineering, Minot's Ledge Light was recognized as an American Society for Civil Engineering Landmark in 1997.
Minot's Ledge Light is located approximately one mile offshore from the town of Cohasset. It is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and is an active aid to navigation. It is closed to the public. The lighthouse is best seen by boat, but it is visible from Government Island and other points along the shore off Cohasset and Scituate.
Scituate Light consists of an octagonal granite tower connected by an enclosed walkway to a Cape Cod style, one-and-one-half-story keeper's dwelling. In 1827, workers added a 15-foot tall brick extension atop the original granite blocks and installed a new lantern room to enhance the light's visibility. Exposure to harsh weather greatly deteriorated the 50-foot tall tower and required that the tower walls be rebuilt in 1841. Scituate received a Fresnel lens in 1855. Illuminated for only five years, Scituate Light was deactivated and the lantern was removed when Minot's Ledge Light to the north was completed in 1860. The Lighthouse Service sold Scituate Light to the Town of Scituate in 1916 and the new owners installed a replica lantern in 1930. In 1968, the Scituate Historical Society began managing the site. After being out of service for 134 years, Scituate Light was relit in 1994 as a private aid to navigation.
Scituate Light Station is located on Cedar Point off Lighthouse Rd. in Scituate. It is an active private aid to navigation owned by the Town of Scituate and managed by the Scituate Historical Society. The grounds surrounding the light station are open year-round, and the light tower is occasionally open during the summer. For more information about open house dates or special events at the light station call 781-545-1083 or visit the Scituate Historical Society website.
The district includes more than 200 buildings. The first houses in the area were modest cottages, many of which were built for mariners along the shoreline at the center of the current historic district. These houses, like the Edward Winslow House (1787) on 105 St. George St., are typically wood frame buildings, often exhibiting fluted pilasters and measuring one-and-one-half or two stories in height. These waterfront cottages were joined by larger two-story, Georgian-style residences in the last years of the 18th century. Several such homes were built for Duxbury ship captains, including the Samuel Delano, Jr. House (1780) at 36 Plumfield Lane and the Benjamin Bosworth House (1794) at 310 Washington St. After 1800, the most popular house of the period was the Federal-style, center-chimney, hipped roof house. A good example of this house type was constructed by shipbuilder Charles Drew, Jr. at 685 Washington St. in 1826. It was donated to the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society in 1916, was restored and now serves as the society's Wentworth Research Library. The Nathaniel Winsor, Jr. House is one of the largest and most architecturally significant houses in the district, the design of which was based on the works of nationally prominent architects Charles Bulfinch and Asher Benjamin. The Winsor family built at least 40 sailing vessels in Duxbury. Nathaniel Winsor, Jr., a carver of figureheads by trade, inherited the family's thriving mercantile enterprise and built this large house for his family.
Duxbury's maritime-related industry in the district reached its peak in the 1830s before declining dramatically. By 1840, the town's more prominent shipbuilders had begun to relocate their works to Boston and development in the area halted. Absent of economic pressures to update the older buildings, the Old Shipbuilder's Historic District remains a virtually unaltered assemblage of late 18th- and early 19th-century residences reflecting Duxbury's greatest period of prosperity.
The Old Shipbuilder's Historic District is located on both sides of Washington St. from Powder Point Ave. to just north of South Duxbury. The Duxbury Rural and Historical Society owns the Charles Drew, Jr. House and Nathaniel Winsor, Jr. House. The Winsor House, the society's headquarters, is open Monday-Friday from 9:00am to 3:00pm. The Drew House is the society's library and archives and is open to the public Wednesdays from 9:00am to 12:00pm. Please contact the at 781-934-6106 for further information. Other houses in the district are privately owned and not open to the public.
At a young age, Gamaliel Bradford served as a lieutenant in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. As a result of his military service, President Adams offered Gamaliel command of the frigate Boston in 1797, but he declined. In 1800, Gamaliel lost his leg while defending the vessel Industry from French privateers. He retired two years later from the sea. In 1807, brother Daniel Bradford became master of the vessel Brutus. Retiring from a life at sea in 1811, Daniel bought a house and farmland in New Hampshire and sold his Duxbury home to Jacob Smith and his son Moxon, both of whom were engaged in maritime work. Captain Gershom Bradford went to sail under the direction of his older brothers at the age of 17. He became a shipmaster in 1796 and commanded at least 10 vessels before retiring in 1826 after 35 years at sea. The Gershom Bradford House remained in the Bradford family until 1968, when it was given to the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society, Inc. The Daniel Bradford House returned to the Bradford family in 1865, following the death of Moxon Smith. The King Caesar House was occupied by Weston descendants until 1886, at which time it became part of the campus of the Powder Point School for Boys. In the 20th century it was owned by a succession of Duxbury families until 1965, when the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society, Inc. purchased it.
The Captain Gamaliel Bradford House is located at 942 Tremont St.; the Captain Gershom Bradford House is located at 931 Tremont St.; the Captain Daniel Bradford House is located at 251 Harrison St.; and the King Caesar House is located at 120 King Caesar Rd. in Duxbury. The Duxbury Rural and Historical Society owns the Captain Gershom Bradford House and the King Caesar House. The Gershom Bradford House is open to the public June-August, Saturdays-Sundays from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. The King Caesar House is open to the public from June-August, Wednesday-Sunday and on Saturdays and Sundays through September from 1:00pm to 4:00pm. Please contact the society at 781-934-6106 for further information. The Gamaliel and Daniel Bradford houses are privately owned and not open to the public.
The remaining tower is the Nation's oldest, free-standing, wooden lighthouse tower, and it continues to operate as an active aid to navigation today. The U.S. Coast Guard removed the fourth-order lens upon automation in 1986 and replaced it with a modern optic. The Fresnel lens is currently on display at the Hull Lifesaving Museum at the Point Allerton Lifesaving Station in Hull, Massachusetts. In 1998, Plymouth Light was moved approximately 140 feet back from its original location because of cliff erosion.
Plymouth Light Station is located on Gurnet Point in Plymouth at the entrance to Duxbury Bay. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and managed by Project Gurnet and Bug Lights, Plymouth Light Station is an active aid to navigation. The light station is generally closed to the public but may be open for brief periods including Duxbury's "Opening of the Bay" festival in May. Best seen by boat, the light is also visible from areas surrounding Plymouth Harbor. For more information about Project Gurnet and Bug Lights visit the organization's website.
The buildings at 7, 13 and 17 Bradford Street and 5 and 33 Union Street are representative of the three-bay vernacular residential dwellings. The clapboarded, two-and-one-half-story dwellings are generally Greek Revival in design and feature a side hall plan. Thirteen buildings in the district are early to mid-19th-century cottages. Except for a couple of one-and-one-half-story Cape Cod-style cottages, the majority are one-and-one-half-story Gothic Revival houses built in the late 1840s. Multiple family dwellings are located at 8-10, 15 and 9 Bradford Street, 8 Emerald Street and on Water Cure Street. Most of these wood-framed buildings are late 19th-century two-and-one-half-story tenement buildings, and early 20th-century three-family dwellings. Three of the four commercial buildings in the district combined business use with residential space and echo the character of the Bradford-Union Historic District's other cottage dwellings. The mid-19th-century two-story brick portion of the present-day Plymouth Marine Company is all that remains of the iron foundry, which was once an important industry in the area.
The Bradford-Union Street Historic District is roughly bounded by Sandwich, Bradford, Union, Water and Emerald sts. in Plymouth. Houses within the district are primarily private residences and are not open to the public.
The wood-frame keeper's house (the second house on the station) was subsequently removed and floated across Buzzard's Bay by barge to Wing's Neck Light Station in Pocasset. The U.S. Coast Guard deactivated Ned Point Light in 1952. The entire site, except for the tower, was sold to the Town of Mattapoisett in 1958, which developed the land as a park. The light was reactivated in 1961 and continues to operate as an active aid to navigation. The local Coast Guard Flotilla "adopted" the lighthouse in 1993 and conducted renovations shortly thereafter.
Ned Point Light is located in Veteran's Memorial Park at the end of Ned's Point Rd. in Mattapoisett. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and managed by the Town of Mattapoisett, Ned Point Light Station is open to the public on Thursdays in July and August from 10:00am to 12:00pm. The park grounds are open to the public daily. For further information email email@example.com.
The tower was restored by the town and the Sippican Historical Society in 1976. Formed in 1994, the Bird Island Preservation Society raised funds to further restore the tower. A modern, solar-powered optic was installed atop the tower in 1997 and Bird Island Light was relit as a private aid to navigation. The island is covered with low scrub and rocks and serves as a nesting ground for endangered Roseate terns from May through August.
Bird Island Light is located on Bird Island in Sippican Harbor near Marion. It is owned by the town of Marion and maintained by the Sippican Historical Society. The island and light station are closed to the public. Bird Island can be viewed distantly from shore, but it is best viewed by boat. For further information call 508-748-0550 or visit the Bird Island Light Preservation Society website at http://by-the-sea.com/birdislandlight
The architectural style of the superstructure, Art Moderne, is also unique among New England lighthouses. Rising from the caisson is a reinforced concrete, two-story dwelling and integrated tower topped with a fourth-order lantern. The first level of the superstructure is circular in plan with eight faces, while the second level consists of a cross superimposed on the round first level. Windows at each of the four faces at the second level are directly above those at the first level. The circular tower rises 50 feet from the center of the square cross. The lighthouse keepers at Cleveland Ledge Light used the first and second levels as living and work quarters, and below the main deck was the engine room, fuel tanks and four water tanks with a capacity of 4,800 gallons of fresh water. The light was automated in 1978, and the station was permanently closed. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains the station, and it continues to serve as an active aid to navigation.
Cleveland Ledge Light Station is located in Buzzards Bay at the east side of the southern entrance to the channel approaching Cape Cod Canal. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, it is an active aid to navigation and is closed to the public. Cleveland Ledge Light is best viewed by boat, but it is also visible from shore.Ned Point Light in Mattapoisett was floated to the Wing's Neck site in 1923.
With the completion of Cleveland Ledge Light in 1943, Wing's Neck Light was no longer necessary and was discontinued two years later. The Federal government sold the property and remaining buildings, including the attached tower and dwelling, assistant keeper's dwelling and a wooden oil house (1849), into private ownership in 1947. Today, only the tower, enclosed passageway and keeper's dwelling remain. The house was renovated in 2003 and is used as a vacation house.
Wing's Neck Light Station is located at the end of Wing's Neck, a peninsula extending into Buzzards Bay at the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal in Pocasset, a Village of Bourne. Wing's Neck Light is privately owned and managed by the Wing's Neck Lighthouse Trust. It can be viewed from a gate approximately 100 yards distant. Wing's Neck is available for weekly rental year round. For more information visit www.wingsnecklighthouse.com, contact them through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 508-460-0506.
The customshouse occupied the second level until 1913, while the first level served as a post office until 1958. The County Extension Service replaced the customhouse on the second level from 1924 to 1957. The Federal government deeded the building and grounds to the Town of Barnstable in 1960 for use as a historical museum, which opened that same year. The building is dedicated to Donald G. Trayser, a local Barnstable historian, former editor of The Barnstable Patriot, former Clerk of the Barnstable Superior Court, and editor of Barnstable-Three Centuries of a Cape Cod Town, which was published in 1939. For many years, the historic building housed the collection of the Barnstable Historical Society. After the Society moved out, the customhouse was restored by a group of dedicated local residents and reopened as the Coast Guard Heritage Museum at the Trayser in July 2005.
The U.S. Customshouse (Barnstable) is located at 3353 Main St. in Barnstable. It is open to the public as the Coast Guard Heritage Museum, seasonally from 10:00am to 3:00pm, Tuesday-Sunday, for a small fee. For further information, contact the museum at 508-362-8521.
In 1877, the Lighthouse Board had the foresight to construct a new light station further inland to replace the 1841 station. The Fresnel lenses were removed from the second set of towers and installed atop the new, 48-foot, tall cast-iron, twin towers. Other station buildings included a one-and-one-half-story, duplex keeper's dwelling and a brick oil house. The north light tower was moved to the Nauset Beach Light Station in 1923, but the concrete foundation remains today. A more powerful optic was installed in the south tower increasing the intensity of the light. The south tower is still standing and continues to operate as an active aid to navigation. An enclosed entryway provides access to the tower. The keeper's dwelling, which is currently used for U.S. Coast Guard housing, and the oil house also remain at the station.
Chatham Light Station is located on Shore Rd. at the eastern end of Main St. in Chatham. Owned and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, it is an active aid to navigation and the keeper's quarters is presently used as Coast Guard housing. The lighthouse is generally not open to the public. However, the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Flotilla 11-1, in Chatham offers a series of open houses from May to October. For further information, visit the Flotilla's website.
The newly formed U.S. Coast Guard took over the duties of the U.S. Life-Saving Service in 1915 and served at Old Harbor U.S. Life Saving Station, which became known as Old Harbor Coast Guard Station until it was discontinued in 1944. A private party purchased the station in 1947. The station remained in private ownership until 1961, when the Cape Cod National Seashore was established. Threatened by extensive shoreline erosion, Old Harbor U.S. Life Saving Station was moved from Nauset Beach to Race Point Beach in 1977.
Old Harbor U.S. Life Saving Station, administered by the National Park Service's Cape Cod National Seashore, is located on Race Point Beach. It is open to the public from 2:30pm to 5:00pm daily, beach fees apply. Parking is available at Race Point Beach. Every Thursday at 6:00pm in July and August, National Park Service rangers reenact the historic "Beach Apparatus Drill" employed by the U.S. Life-Saving Service to rescue shipwrecked mariners.Long Island Head and Vermont's Juniper Island are among the earlier cast-iron lighthouses. Established in 1823, Monomoy Point Light Station was constructed on the southern end of Monomoy Island, which did not become two separate islands (North and South Monomoy) until the Blizzard of 1978. Pollock Rip, a region of unusually strong tidal currents located off the southern shore of the island, historically caused numerous shipwrecks and necessitated building a light station to mark the area. Like many early light stations in the region, the original Monomoy Point Light Station consisted of a brick keeper's house with a wooden tower and iron lantern room rising from the roof of the house. After operating for 25 years in an exposed location, the light station needed to be replaced. The present 40-foot tall, cylindrical, cast-iron tower, along with a keeper's house and a brick oil house, was built in 1849.
Monomoy Point Light Station received a fourth-order Fresnel lens in 1857. To provide a more visible daymark (a sign or shape that is clearly visibile by day), the tower was painted red in 1882. In 1892, iron trusses were added to further stabilize the tower. With the opening of Cape Cod Canal in 1914 and the increased intensity of Chatham Light, Monomoy Point Light's importance waned. Upon deactivation in 1923, Monomoy Point Light Station passed into private ownership. Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex, a division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, obtained ownership of the island in 1944 and designated it as Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. The station has been restored and renovated on several occasions, and serves as a center for natural and cultural history tours and educational programs.
Monomoy Point Light Station is located on Monomoy Point near the southern end of South Monomoy Island just south of Chatham. Owned and managed by Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge since 1944, Monomoy Light no longer operates as an aid to navigation. Monomoy is one of eight national wildlife refuges comprising the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The light station is generally closed to the public, but the Friends of Monomoy National Refuge offer programs including an overnight stay in the keeper's house from Memorial Day to late September. For further information call 508-945-0594 or visit the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge's website.
Born in 1831 in Eastham, Edward Penniman set sail for the first time at age 11. The voyage was to the dangerous and unpredictable waters of the Grand Banks, a rich fishing ground off the coast of Canada's Newfoundland. For the next several years, Penniman would confine his maritime activities to local waters. However, whaling with its high profits was an attractive, albeit risky, business for New Englanders. Nantucket had a flourishing whaling industry as early as the late 1600s, but it was New Bedford with its deep water harbor and railway system that would become New England's whaling capital. In 1852 at the age of 21, Penniman would journey to New Bedford and sign on to his first whaling expedition. Later when Penniman became a captain he would select New Bedford as his home port setting sail seven times to hunt whale.
With whale over-harvested in the Atlantic along the shores of New England, whalers were forced to go further and further from home to hunt. Whaling expeditions often spanned three or four years, and it was not uncommon for wives and families of ship captains to go along on the trip. Penniman's wife, Betsy Augusta Penniman, called "Gustie" by her husband, went on three such voyages often assisting with navigation and other shipboard matters. In addition, each of the three Penniman children accompanied their parents on various journeys with eldest son Eugene eventually becoming a whaling captain himself.
Captain Penniman became one of the most successful whaling captains in New England. After his fourth voyage, he returned home to Eastham to build a home for his family on 12 acres purchased from his father. The plans and drawings for the house are of high quality and indicate that it was most likely designed by a practicing but unidentified. Both the exterior and interior exhibit high quality workmanship. The clapboard exterior is decorated with millwork trim and painted in a colorful scheme: yellow clapboards, white trim, black window sashes, green window blinds, and brown and red roof shingles. It was the first house to have indoor plumbing in Eastham. The roof held a water collection system that led to a large tank in the attic; a gravity flow system piped water from the tank to the kitchen and bathroom. Also on the property is a barn which reflects the overall style of the house, an ornate wooden fence and an entrance gate constructed from a whale's jawbone. In 1884, at the age of 53, Penniman was able to retire permanently to his grand home, where he would live until his death in 1913.
The house remained in the family until 1963 when Penniman's youngest granddaughter sold the property to the National Park Service for $28,000. Within the boundaries of the Cape Cod National Seashore, the Penniman House serves as a museum telling the story of the Penniman family and whaling in New England.
The Edward Penniman House is located at the intersection of Fort Hill and Governor Prence rds. in Eastham within the National Park Service's Cape Cod National Seashore. It is open to the public on a seasonal basis. Contact the park at 508-487-1256 for further information.
The Penniman House is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Park Service program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.
CG 36500 was stationed at the Chatham, Massachusetts Coast Guard Life Boat Station from 1946 to 1968 and is famous for its role in the rescue of crewman from the tanker Pendleton in 1952. In the late afternoon of February 18 during a northeaster with winds of 70-knots, reported 40-60-foot seas and heavy snow, the crew of CG 36500 crossed the Chatham bar in the lifeboat and rescued 32 of the 33 men who were stranded on the stern half of the tanker. The Pendleton had broken in two in the early hours of the morning with the stern half moving towards Chatham.
Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat CG 36500 is owned by the Orleans Historical Society. The vessel is berthed at Rock Harbor, in Orleans and travels to various special events throughout the region. For more information, visit the Motor Lifeboat's website or call the historical society at 508-240-1329.
The 22-foot tall towers stood 150 feet apart. They were painted white and topped with lanterns and fourth-order lenses, which were removed from the original towers. Unfortunately, the cliff continued to erode until it came within eight feet of the northernmost tower in 1911. At this time the Lighthouse Service decided to discontinue the multiple lights, removing two of the towers from the site, and moving the remaining tower further back and attaching it to the keeper's house. In 1918, the unused towers were sold into private ownership, where they were incorporated into a summer cottage in Eastham.
By 1923, the remaining Sister was in poor condition. Rather then build a new tower, one of the twin towers at Chatham Light Station was moved from Chatham to Eastham and attached to a concrete foundation. Placed inside the lantern room was the fourth-order lens from the last tower of the Three Sisters Light Station. The Three Sisters keeper's house was moved to the site of the new tower, and it became known as the Nauset Light. The discontinued Sister, like the two others, was sold into private hands and incorporated into a residence.
After acquiring the land now known as Cape Cod National Seashore, the National Park Service obtained the original Three Sisters' light towers in 1975 and put them in their original configuration along Cable Road about 1,800 feet from the present Nauset Light Station. Restoration was finished in 1989, and the site is now open to the public.
Three Sisters of Nauset Light Station is owned and maintained by the National Park Service as part of Cape Cod National Seashore. The grounds are open daily and National Park Service rangers offer tours and open houses during the summer months. The light towers are accessible via a short walk from the nearby Nauset Light Beach parking area. For further information about accessibility and daily parking fees during the summer, call the Salt Point Visitor Center at 508-255-3421.Chatham Light Station. The last functioning tower of the Three Sisters of Nauset Light Station in Eastham was also discontinued at this time and replaced by the current Nauset Beach Light Station. Keepers of Nauset Beach Light occupied the original one-and-one-half story keeper's house (1875) used by the keepers of Three Sisters of Nauset Light Station and also used the oil house (1892), both of which are still standing.
Nauset Beach Light was automated in 1955. The keeper's dwelling passed into private hands at this time although the U.S. Coast Guard continued operating the light as an active aid to navigation. In 1981, modern aerobeacons replaced the fourth-order Fresnel lens, which is currently displayed at Cape Cod National Seashore Visitor Center in Eastham. On April 17, 1995, the U.S. Coast Guard leased the tower to the Nauset Light Preservation Society. Nauset Beach Light stood only 35 feet from the edge of the eroding bluff in 1996. A combination of Federal grants and funds raised by the Nauset Light Preservation Society helped move the 90-ton tower to its new location some 336 feet from the old site. On May 10, 1997, Nauset Light was relit as a private aid to navigation. (It had been decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard before the move.) The keeper's house was moved to a new foundation near the lighthouse on October 27, 1998, and the oil house and tower were renovated. Nauset Beach Light Station continues to operate as a private aid to navigation and the Nauset Light Preservation Society occasionally opens it to the public.
Nauset Light Station is located on Nauset Beach off Cable Rd., within Cape Cod National Seashore, in Eastham. Nauset Light Station is easily accessible by car and parking is available in the Nauset Light Beach parking area. The grounds are open daily and the Nauset Light Preservation Society provides public tours of the light station from spring through fall. Visit Nauset Light's website for further information.
The oldest buildings in the district are Cape Cod style houses built in the second half of the 18th century and the early decades of the 19th century. Several examples are located on Commercial Street. Many houses, including the Mulford Rich House, the Nehemiah Paine House and a late-18th-century house on Cross Street, were moved from nearby locations to Wellfleet. The most popular architectural choice in Wellfleet was the Greek Revival style, the use of which is attributed to the village's rapid growth as the town's commercial core in the mid-19th century. Some of the Greek Revival residences are the Hawes House, the Sarah Atwood House and the Simeon Atwood House. Commercial buildings, like the Wellfleet Marine Insurance Company, or institutional buildings, like the Congregational Church on Main Street are also representative of Greek Revival style. The mid-1880s consolidation of three buildings on Baker Avenue into a single large summer estate for Lorenzo Dow Baker, known as the Belvernon, marked the beginning of seasonal residency in Wellfleet Center.
The Wellfleet Center Historic District is located in Wellfleet which lies on outer Cape Cod between Chatham and Provincetown. The Atlantic Ocean lies to the east and Cape Cod Bay is to the west. The Wellfleet Historical Society Museum, at 266 Main St., is open June-September, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, from 1:00pm to 4:00pm, and Tuesdays and Fridays from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Walking tours of Wellfleet are offered Tuesdays and Fridays at 10:15am. For further information call 508-349-9157or visit www.wellfleethistoricalsociety.com
In 1901, the Lighthouse Board installed a new first-order Fresnel lens in Highland Light. The light became the most powerful light on the East Coast in 1932 when it was electrified. Replaced by modern aerobeacons in the early 1950s, the Fresnel lens was removed from the lantern and suffered extensive damage in the process. Highland Light Station underwent automation in 1986. Erosion of the steep cliff throughout the years brought the present light station around 100 feet from the cliff's edge by the early 1990s. Using funds raised by the Truro Historical Society combined with state and Federal grants, Highland Light Station was successfully moved 450 feet back to safer ground. After the 18-day move, the light was relit on November 3, 1996, and is an active aid to navigation. In the summer of 1998, the Truro Historical Society began managing Highland Light and opened it to visitors. The keeper's house features a gift shop and museum exhibits; volunteers provide tours of the tower.
Highland Light Station is located on Highland Rd. in North Truro. Traveling north on Rte. 6, take the "Cape Cod/Highland Rd." exit; turn right onto Highland Rd. and follow to the Highland Lighthouse area. Highland Light Station is situated on grounds owned by the National Park Service as part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and is managed by the Truro Historical Society. The grounds are open all year and the lighthouse is open May-October. A trip to the light station allows the visitor to enjoy the Interpretive Center, watch a 10-minute video and climb the lighthouse tower for a small fee. For further information, visit the Truro Historical Society's website or call 508-487-1121.
Long Point Light underwent automation in 1952, and a modern optic replaced the Fresnel lens. The U.S. Coast Guard installed solar panels to power the light and fog signal equipment in 1982. The abandoned keeper's dwelling and fog signal building were demolished around the same time. Only the tower and the oil house remain today.
Long Point Light Station is located at the very tip of the "arm" of Cape Cod, on the sandy spit known as Long Point, at the mouth of Provincetown Harbor in Provincetown. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and maintained by the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation, Long Point Light operates as an active aid to navigation. The grounds are open to the public, while the light tower is closed. Long Island Light is visible from MacMillan Wharf in Provincetown, but it is best visible by boat leaving Provincetown Harbor. For further information, contact the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation.Long Point Light Station, completed in 1875, is identical in design. Topped by a fifth-order Fresnel lens, the 39-foot tall, square, pyramidal brick tower was originally painted brown. A one-and-one-half-story wooden keeper's dwelling was built next to the tower. In 1896, a new wooden keeper's house, in addition to a storage shed and an oil house, replaced the original dwelling.
Upon automation in 1961, the light station became unmanned and all of the buildings except for the tower and oil house were razed. The U.S. Coast Guard converted the light station to solar power in 1981. The Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation has been licensed by the Coast Guard to restore and maintain Wood End Light. It remains an active aid to navigation today.
Wood End Light Lookout Station is located at the tip of Cape Cod near the entrance to Provincetown Harbor. It is part of the National Park Service's Cape Cod National Seashore. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains the optic, which operates as an active aid to navigation, and it is closed to the public. The grounds and remaining structures are maintained by the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation. The light station is accessible by 4-wheel drive, however, the National Park Service restricts access.
In 1995, the Coast Guard leased the surrounding property, including the keeper's dwelling and oil house, to the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation. The organization immediately began restoring the buildings and maintains them today. A modern optic replaced the original Fresnel lens when the station was solarized in 1998. The U.S. Coast Guard continues to maintain the tower and operate the light as an active aid to navigation within Cape Cod National Seashore.
Race Point Light Station is located within the National Park Service's Cape Cod National Seashore at the northern tip of Cape Cod in Provincetown. The U.S. Coast Guard maintains the optic, which operates as an active aid to navigation, while the grounds and the remaining buildings are maintained by the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation. Visitors are permitted to tour the lighthouse on designated Saturdays, May-September from 10:00am to 2:00pm. The keeper's dwelling is also available for overnight stays. For further information visit the Cape Cod Chapter of the American Lighthouse Foundation's website or call 508-487-9930. The Center for Coastal Studies, a marine mammal research and educational group, has leased the renovated fog signal building as a field station and laboratory since 1999.
Nobska Point Light retained civilian keepers at the light until November 1972, despite the fact that the U.S. Coast Guard subsumed the duties of the Lighthouse Service in 1939. It was automated and unmanned by 1985. Today, it operates as an active aid to navigation and the keeper's dwelling serves as a home for the commander of Coast Guard Group Woods Hole.
Nobska Point Light Station is located in Woods Hole, a village of Falmouth, and marks the junction of Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds with Buzzards Bay. It is owned and maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard and serves as an active aid to navigation. There is a small parking lot near the lighthouse and the grounds are open to the public until dusk each day. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 11-2 conducts open houses at various times throughout the year. Visit the Auxiliary's website for an updated tour schedule.
A new two-story keeper's dwelling replaced the old stone dwelling by 1890, and the existing tower replaced the previous tower in 1891. The 38-foot tall, conical, brick tower with an attached workroom was topped with a stronger fourth-order Fresnel lens. At the same time, a fog bell tower was constructed near the tower, later destroyed by the Hurricane of 1938. The U.S. Coast Guard automated the station in 1941 and destroyed the keeper's dwelling in 1962. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and leased to the Cuttyhunk Historical Society, Tarpaulin Cove Light Station continues to operate as an active Federal aid to navigation today and only the tower remains.
Tarpaulin Cove Light Station is located on the south side of Naushon Island. Naushon Island is the largest of the Elizabeth Islands off the southern coast of Massachusetts that extend into Buzzard's Bay from Falmouth on Cape Cod. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and maintained by the Cuttyhunk Historical Society, it is an active aid to navigation and closed to the public. It is best viewed by boat. For further information contact the Cuttyhunk Historical Society at 508-984-4611.
The current, conical, brick, 51-foot tall tower was constructed to properly house the enormous first-order Fresnel lens in 1856. A new keeper's dwelling was also built at this time. When three consecutive Gay Head Light keepers died the extreme dampness of the keeper's house was blamed. To correct this problem, the Lighthouse Board built a new dwelling on a much higher and drier foundation in 1902. A modern automatic optic replaced the original Fresnel lens in 1952, and the station was unmanned just four years later. The Fresnel lens is now displayed in a replica lantern room on the grounds of the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society in Edgartown, Massachusetts. The U.S. Coast Guard removed the keeper's house and other station buildings, excluding the tower, in 1956. Vineyard Environmental Research Institute leased Gay Head Light from the Coast Guard in 1985, and the license was transferred to the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society in 1994. Gay Head Light Station is an active aid to navigation, and only the light tower remains on the site today.
Gay Head Light is located at the end of Lighthouse Rd. on the westernmost point of land on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and leased to the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society, Gay Head Light operates as an active aid to navigation. The Martha's Vineyard Historical Society offers sunset tours of the light station for a small fee on Fridays-Sundays from mid-June to mid-September. For further information visit the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society website or call 508-627-4441.
West Chop became a popular summer resort area by 1890, and many large houses obscured the light atop the tower. After adding a 17-foot high mast surmounted with a light atop the tower, the Lighthouse Board decided to replace the previous tower with the current 52-foot tall, conical, brick tower in 1891. An oil house was constructed near the tower in 1895 and the tower was painted white the following year. In 1976, West Chop Light became the last lighthouse on Martha's Vineyard to be automated. The tower retains its original fourth-order Fresnel lens. Other buildings still standing are the two keeper's dwellings, the fog signal building, the oil house and a 1935 garage. The Vineyard Environmental Research Institute, an organization concerned with the preservation of lighthouses on Martha's Vineyard, used the keeper's dwellings at the station as offices for several years. Presently, the house closest to the tower serves as quarters for the officer in charge of Coast Guard Station Menemsha. The other house is a vacation home for people in all branches of the military. West Chop Light is an active aid to navigation and is closed to the public.
West Chop Light Station is located off West Chop Rd. near Tisbury on the northeast side of Martha's Vineyard, an island off the southern coast of Cape Cod. Situated on a sloping piece of property between West Chop Rd. and Vineyard Haven Harbor, it marks the west side of the entrance to the harbor. West Chop Light is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard. It is an active aid to navigation and is closed to the public. West Chop Light is easily seen from West Chop Rd. or by boat in Vineyard Haven Harbor.
In 1878, the Lighthouse Board purchased the property from Captain Daggett and replaced the private aid with a new keeper's dwelling and the present light tower. The 40-foot tall, cast-iron, conical tower remains at its original location. East Chop Light was automated and unmanned in 1933. The keeper's dwelling was subsequently removed. A modern optic replaced the original Fresnel lens in 1984. For many years the tower was painted brown, but is now white with a black lantern. Martha's Vineyard Historical Society obtained a license from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1994 to open the lighthouse to the public. East Chop Light is an active Federal aid to navigation.
East Chop (Telegraph Hill) Light is located on Lighthouse Rd. in the town park of Oak Bluffs atop the highest protruding bluff on Martha's Vineyard called East Chop (also called Telegraph Hill). It marks the east side of the entrance to Vineyard Haven Harbor. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and leased to the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society, East Chop Light Station is an active aid to navigation. The Martha's Vineyard Historical Society offers tours of East Chop Light on Sundays from mid-June to mid-September for a small fee. For further information visit Martha's Vineyard Historical Society website or call 508-627-4441.
Edgartown was the island's center for whaling activities, reaching its height between 1820 and 1865. Between 1835 and 1845 alone, 110 whaling captains built homes and lived in Edgartown. Other maritime-related industries, including fishing, salt manufacturing and candle making also strengthened the local economy during this period. The largest single maritime-related enterprise which grew up around whaling was the production of whale oil and candles by Dr. Daniel Fisher & Company. This company became Edgartown's largest industry in 1850 and the success is evident in the elaborate Greek Revival dwelling built for Dr. Daniel Fisher on Main Street. The affluence and influence of the area's ship captains is apparent in the extensive number of captains' houses, public buildings and churches that also were built during this period. Particularly noteworthy examples are the Captain Holmes Smith House on South Summer Street and the Captain Abraham Osborne House on Main Street (both circa 1840), the Dukes County Courthouse (1859) and the County Jail (circa 1860s), the Federated Church (1828) and the Whaling Church (1842).
At the time the whaling industry was in the last stages of decline, Martha's Vineyard's popularity as a summer resort was beginning in earnest. The first "summer cottages" appeared in Edgartown Village in the early 1880s, although the largest number and most lavish examples were built between 1895 and 1920. Edgartown and all of Martha's Vineyard gained widespread recognition as a resort community between the late 1920s and the early 1940s, when bungalow cottages and Colonial Revival style buildings began to appear as infill among the earlier buildings in the district. The Edgartown Village Historic District remains a popular resort area today.
The Edgartown Village Historic District is located in Edgartown on the southeastern side of the island of Martha's Vineyard, which lies approximately five miles off the southeastern coast of Massachusetts. It is situated on the west side of Edgartown Harbor and with exception of a small area extending out along Main Street, the majority of the district is bounded by Water St. and Pease's Point Way. The Edgartown Village Historic District is publicly accessible. For further information visit the city's website. Private residences are not open to the public.
In 1939, the Lighthouse Service merged with the U.S. Coast Guard, which assumed all duties related to aids to navigation. The U.S. Coast Guard immediately demolished Edgartown Harbor Light, but retained the stone pier. Edgartown residents rejected the Coast Guard's initial plan to erect a beacon atop a skeletal tower. Instead, a 45-foot tall, conical, cast-iron tower constructed in 1875 at Crane's Beach in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where it had been one of two range lights, was moved to Edgartown by barge, and reassembled on the original stone pier in 1939. The new Edgartown Harbor Light was at once automated and unmanned, thus concluding 111 years of employing lighthouse keepers at the station. The Coast Guard restored the light station in 1985. In 1990, a solar-powered modern optic replaced the fourth-order Fresnel lens. Over the decades sand gradually filled in the area between the lighthouse and the mainland, therefore Edgartown Harbor Light is now located on the beach and it continues to operate as an active aid to navigation.
Edgartown Harbor Light is located off North Water St. on the west side of Edgartown Harbor opposite Chappaquiddick Island. Edgartown Harbor Light is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and leased to the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society. At this time, the lighthouse is not open to the public as there is no internal staircase. In 2001, the lighthouse was dedicated as the Children's Lighthouse Memorial. For further information visit the Memorial's website.
The encroaching shoreline necessitated the construction of another new light tower and keeper's house in 1880. Using the same design as the 1844 tower, the present tower was built 40 feet inland from the previous one in 1893. The 35-foot tall, conical, wooden tower was considered a temporary structure, but it has survived more than a century. A small enclosed entryway with a gable roof allows access to the tower. The 1893 tower has been moved four times: in 1907, 1922, 1960 and 1987. During the 1987 move, a helicopter transported the tower 500 feet from the shoreline onto land owned by the Trustees of Reservations within the boundaries of Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge. Automated in 1943, a modern plastic optic did not replace the original Fresnel lens until 1987. The Fresnel lens is displayed at the Martha's Vineyard Historical Society Museum in Edgartown, Massachusetts. In 1997, the lantern was removed by helicopter, repaired and replaced atop the tower. Only the tower exists today and it continues to operate as an active Federal aid to navigation.
Cape Poge Light is located on Dike Rd. on the northeast side of Chappaquiddick Island off Martha's Vineyard. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and leased to the Trustees of Reservations, it is an active aid to navigation. The light station is located within Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, which is open to the public year-round. The Trustees of Reservations offer tours of the light station from Memorial Day to Columbus Day for a small fee. Reservations are required and are obtained by calling 508-627-3599.
Nantucket developed much of its present appearance in the 18th century. Dwellings from this time, including the Nathaniel Macy House at 12 Liberty Street and the Tristram Bunker House at 3 Bear Street, are similar to those built in the 17th century, which were utilitarian and with little ornamentation or detail. By the early 19th century, the island's architecture shifted towards classical detail, and the Federal style is evident in such buildings as the Second Congressional Meetinghouse of 1809. The Golden Age of Nantucket began about 1820 and the large homes built between 1820 and 1850 are indicative of local sea captains' and merchants' wealth. The most outstanding buildings are situated on Orange and Main Streets where sea captains commonly built two-story dwellings with white clapboard siding and views of the harbor. Successful merchants and ship owners built elegant mansions, like the Hadwen-Wright House at 94 Main Street and its twin at 96 Main Street. Immediately following the devastating fire of 1846, the entire commercial district was rebuilt with new two and three-story brick stores.
The Nantucket Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, encompasses the entire island of Nantucket. Nantucket Visitor Services, located at 25 Federal St. in the Town of Nantucket, provides visitors and residents with information about current events, museums, tours, restaurants and lodging. Architectural walking tours of the town are offered in the summer at 9:30am on most Wednesdays and Thursdays; visit the Nantucket Preservation Trust website for further information. Visit the Chamber of Commerce's website for further visitor information or call 508-228-1387.
Brant Point Light StationThe whaling industry in Nantucket boomed by the 1740s requiring an aid to navigation to guide mariners around Brant Point, an area through which all vessels passed as they entered the island's inner harbor. Established in 1746, the Brant Point Light was the second lighthouse established in colonial America. It has since been moved and rebuilt more times than any other lighthouse in the Nation. The present lighthouse is the ninth one built on Brant Point. A fire destroyed the original wooden lighthouse in 1757, and the second wooden lighthouse was destroyed during a storm in 1774. The third lighthouse burned in 1783 and the fourth lighthouse, which was no more than a lantern hoisted up between two spars, burned in 1786. The fifth lighthouse lasted only two years before it was demolished by a storm. Built by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1788, the sixth lighthouse was ceded to the Federal government in 1795. A new light station consisting of a tower rising from the roof of the keeper's dwelling replaced that built by the Commonwealth in 1825. In 1856, the Lighthouse Board constructed the eighth light station, a 47-foot tall brick tower topped with a fourth-order Fresnel lens and attached to a brick keeper's dwelling. Discontinued in 1900 due to the shifting channel, the structure is still standing, but the lantern has been removed.
The current 26-foot tall, cylindrical, wood tower topped with a fifth-order Fresnel lens was built as a replacement in 1901, 596 feet east of the previous station. A long, elevated, wooden walkway runs over the sandy beach to a small, enclosed entryway, which provides access to the tower. Automated in 1965, the 1901 light tower continues to operate as an active aid to navigation today. In 1975, the tower was included in the National Historic Landmark boundaries for the Nantucket Historic District and was later listed individually in the National Register of Historic Places.
Brant Point Light Station is located at the water's edge, off Easton St. on the north side of Nantucket Island. The lighthouse rests at the end of a spit of sand, which forms the west side of the entrance to Nantucket Harbor. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, Brant Point Light is an active aid to navigation and is closed to the public. The grounds are open to the public.
Sankaty Head Light was automated in 1965, yet U.S. Coast Guard personnel continued living in the one-and-one-half-story, brick, duplex keeper's dwelling until 1992. The U.S. Coast Guard removed the lantern from atop the tower in 1970 because it was no longer necessary for the modern optic's operation. They received numerous complaints and installed an aluminum lantern somewhat similar in appearance to the old one. In 1990, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspected Sankaty Head Light and concluded that the structure was in danger of falling over the edge of the eroding bluff within 10 years. Concerned islanders responded by starting a fundraising campaign to move the tower. Fundraising efforts continue and have provided for successful erosion control. Sankaty Head Light continues to operate as an active aid to navigation and the tower remains in its original location.
Sankaty Head Light Station is located on the east side of Nantucket Island, situated on a high bluff at the end of Baxter Rd., just north of the town of Siaconset. Sankaty Head Light is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and managed by 'Sconset Trust, Inc. The tower is closed to the public, but the grounds are open year round. For further information visit the 'Sconset Trust, Inc. website or call 508-228-9917. For information on visiting the Nantucket Whaling Museum and viewing the Sankaty Fresnel lens, refer to the Nantucket Historical Association's website.Nantucket as the Nation's leader in the whaling industry. New Bedford maintained that position until the growth of the petroleum industry in the late 1850s, brought American whaling to an end. Comprised of approximately 20 historic buildings situated within 12 city blocks and totaling approximately 20 acres, the New Bedford Historic District is a good example of the commercial district of a major New England seaport between 1810 and 1855. The success and wealth of local mariners and merchants is also evident in the buildings they built and used.
The district contains good examples of smaller Federal and Greek Revival style buildings with shops on the ground floor and living quarters above, as well as several gable-roofed warehouses of brick or stone. Some of the district's major institutional buildings constructed during this period include the U.S. Custom House, Mechanics Bank, Merchant's Bank and New Bedford Institution for Savings. Other prominent buildings in the New Bedford Historic District include the Samuel Rodman House (1831), the Mariner's Home (circa 1790), the Seaman's Bethel (1832 and rebuilt in 1867) and the Samuel Rodman Candlehouse (1810). Sponsored by the Old Dartmouth Historical Society, the Whaling Museum in New Bedford is a massive 20th-century, Georgian Revival style building, which today houses extensive collections illustrating the history of the whaling industry.
The New Bedford Historic District is roughly bounded by portions of Acushnet Ave., Elm, Water, Rodman, Front, Commercial and Union sts. For further information contact the City of New Bedford or call 1-800-508-5353. The New Bedford Historic District is also within the boundaries of the National Park Service's New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park.Ernestina. It also includes the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum, both of which are private, nonprofit partner institutions. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park was established to preserve and interpret how the town's whaling industry contributed to America's economic and political vitality. The park's enabling legislation also established a legislative connection with the Inupiat Heritage Center in Barrow, Alaska, to commemorate the more than 2,000 whaling voyages from New Bedford to the Western Arctic.
The New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park Visitor Center is located at 33 William St. It is owned and operated by the National Park Service and open to the public throughout the year from 9:00am to 5:00pm; closed on New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Admission to the park is free, but there is a small fee to enter the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum. Please call 508-996-4095 or visit the park's website to obtain the most up-to-date tour information. For further information, also visit the websites of the New Bedford Whaling Museum, and Rotch-Jones-Duff House and Garden Museum.Newburyport. Mills, the first architect of international reputation both born and trained in America, is also known for designing important buildings and structures in Washington, D.C. such as the U.S. Treasury, the General Post Office, the Patent Office, and the Washington Monument.
The New Bedford Custom House was authorized by Congress on July 3, 1832. The site for the building was purchased on April 22, 1833 for the sum of $4,900, and the cost of the finished building was approximately $25,500. It is a rectangular, two-story, white granite building with a hipped roof. It is five bays wide and three bays deep. The façade is dominated by a three-bay wide portico comprised of four Greek Doric columns, which support a pediment. Pilasters are exhibited at each corner of the building. Historically, the New Bedford Custom House was where whaling masters registered their ships and cargo. It is symbolic of the era when New Bedford was a major port, and it adds architectural distinction to the New Bedford Historic District. Today's commercial fishing and cargo ships continue to log duties and tariffs here, as it still serves as the New Bedford office of the U.S. Customs Service. It was also the first post office in New Bedford and continues to function as such.
The U.S. Custom House is located at 37 N. Second St. in New Bedford. It is within the boundaries of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, and theNew Bedford Historic District. The U.S. Custom House continues to house the U.S. Customs Service, as well as offices of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Park Service. The building is owned by the U.S. Government and is open to the public.
The Steamship Authority Pier was built in 1838 and was the debarking point for boats to Massachusetts' coastal islands for more than 100 years. In 1844, Merrill began constructing an earth-filled stone wharf intended for mooring, safely loading, outfitting, maintaining and repairing vessels. Originally 826 feet long, Merrill's Wharf was the largest of seven new wharves built in New Bedford between 1841 and 1849. Merrill's Wharf Building, which originally served as a "counting house" or office, was constructed at the head of the wharf in 1847 and 1848. Made of dressed-stone, the three-and-one-half story, rectangular loft building was built at a cost of just over $3,800. The ground level served as a warehouse; the second floor had four suites of "counting rooms" (offices) for whaling merchants; the third floor housed a sail loft; and the uppermost story was a rigging loft. The Coal Pocket Pier was originally built in the 1850s for Captain Merrill's business. It was later known as the Lumber Wharf and the School Street Wharf, then used as an unloading site for coal for the utility company, which is when it became known by its present name. The Merrill family retained the property until 1905. The Merrill's Wharf Building burned in 1926, but was restored. It burned again in the 1970s and was rehabilitated. Despite alterations during the 1970 rehabilitation, its character-defining exterior was preserved. The building survives in this condition at the head of what is now the principal wharf for the city's commercial fishing fleet.
The Merrill's Wharf Historic District is located on the waterfront side of MacArthur Dr. in New Bedford.Lightship No. 114 was part of a six-vessel contract with the U.S. Lighthouse Establishment. Lightship No. 114 is a steel-hulled vessel with steel deckhouses and two masts with lantern galleries, measuring 133.2 feet in length and displacing 630 tons of water. A diesel-electric engine propelled the vessel. Lightship No. 114 became the first lightship to complete a 5,892-mile, west-east passage via the Panama Canal. The lightship first served off Fire Island guiding mariners into the Nation's busiest port, New York Harbor, from 1930 to 1942 and then served for five years at Diamond Shoals, another important lightship station off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. From 1947 to 1958, Lightship No. 114 functioned as a relief vessel off the New England coast before being stationed at Pollock Rip off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In 1969, the vessel served in the harbor of Portland, Maine, before retiring from duty in 1971. Possession of Lightship No. 114 was transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the City of New Bedford and it was marked with the pseudonym "NEW BEDFORD."
Lightship No. 114, which served for more than 40 years, is quite a different vessel from those that came before it. The first lightship was a small wooden schooner moored on Chesapeake Bay in the early 1800s. From this design, the lightship type developed through the 19th century from sail to steam, from wood to iron to steel hulls, and to more powerful optics. The development of the lightship was also marked by changes in hull design, the development of direct diesel and diesel-electric propulsion, changes in sound signals and locating devices. Only a dozen or so lightships survive today, and none date to earlier than 1904. Two of Lightship No. 114's sister ships are Lightship No. 116 in Baltimore, Maryland and Lightship No. 118 in Lewes, Delaware.
Lightship No. 114 is berthed at the Commonwealth Electric Pier in New Bedford. It is owned by the City of New Bedford. In June 2006, the vessel rolled on its side due to a leak in the hull. The vessel has been righted, and the City of New Bedford is currently considering various options.Ernestina was launched on February 1, 1894, as the Effie M. Morrissey. The design of the two-masted schooner, which measured 112 feet in length with a 24.5 beam and displaced 240 tons of water, resembled the Fredonia, an 1889 fishing schooner. The Effie M. Morrissey began its career as a fishing schooner and had immense success near the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and other fishing grounds off the eastern seaboard. In 1914, Captain Harold Bartlett bought the Morrissey and converted the schooner into a cargo carrier. Robert A. Bartlett, an experienced captain and noted Arctic explorer, purchased the Morrisey in 1925 and set out for the first of several Arctic excursions the following year. After Bartlett's death in 1946, two brothers in New York City purchased the schooner and intended to sail to Tahiti until a fire in 1947 almost ended the Morrissey's career.
In 1948, Henrique Mendes of the Cape Verde Islands and his sister, Louise Mendes of Egypt, Massachusetts bought the Morrissey, towed it to New Bedford, Massachusetts, for repairs, and renamed it Ernestina. The schooner began a new career as a trans-Atlantic packet carrying passengers and goods between New England and the Cape Verde Islands off the west coast of Africa near Senegal. Sold again in 1967, Ernestina continued with the inter-island trade but could no longer compete with steamships. The Republic of Cape Verde presented Ernestina--one of the last remaining Essex-built schooners and the last ship to bring immigrants to the United States from the Cape Verde Islands--to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1982 as a good will gesture. The U.S. Coast Guard awarded the schooner a certificate of inspection in 1994 for operation as a sailing school vessel and as a passenger carrying vessel. The schooner Ernestina is a fully operational museum and educational vessel, sailing with a licensed staff from its home port in New Bedford.
The Ernestina, a National Historic Landmark, is located at New Bedford State Pier at 89 North Water St. in New Bedford. It is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and operated by the Schooner Ernestina Commission. The Commission offers multidisciplinary, hands-on educational programs tailored to meet the specific needs of schools, colleges and other educational and cultural organizations. Program offerings range from dockside visits for any age, daysails for sixth grade and up and five-day passages at sea from coastal communities of Massachusetts. Please call 508-992-4900 or visit the schooner's website to obtain the most up-to-date information about tours and educational programming.
To prevent future hurricane damage, workers constructed a hurricane barrier wall in 1963. The barrier wall stretched across New Bedford Harbor just south of the Palmer Island Light eliminating the light tower's usefulness. As a result, Palmer Island was deactivated in 1962. A fire destroyed the tower interior, and vandals caused further damage. In 1978, the City of New Bedford obtained ownership of Palmer Island Light and initiated a preservation effort to restore the tower interior. Restoration work resumed in 1989, but was followed by more vandalism. After rebuilding the badly damaged lantern room in 1999, the City of New Bedford once again illuminated the Palmer Island Light Station as a private aid to navigation.
Palmer Island Light Station is located on rocky Palmer's Island in the Acushnet River at the entrance to New Bedford Harbor. It is owned and maintained by the City of New Bedford as an active private aid to navigation. The lighthouse is not open to the public except by special arrangement. Palmer Island Light is visible by boat. For more information about visiting the Palmer Island Light Station call the City of New Bedford's Tourism & Marketing Waterfront Visitor Center at 508-979-1745 or visit the city's website.
Butler Flats Light is unusual in that it had only two keepers, Amos Baker and his son Charles Baker, from 1898 until the U.S. Coast Guard took over operation in 1941. Following automation in 1978, Butler Flats Light became one of the first solar-powered lights in the Nation. The City of New Bedford took over ownership and control of the light station around this time and began making plans to repair and maintain the structure. On April 30, 1998, more than 600 people attended a celebration of Butler Flats Light's 100th birthday as a new, brighter optic, powered by a cable from shore, was illuminated for the first time.
Butler Flats Light Station is located in the New Bedford Channel at the mouth of the Acushnet River offshore from New Bedford. It is owned and operated as an active private aid to navigation by the City of New Bedford and is closed to the public. It is best seen by boat and is also easily viewed from shore along East Rodney French Blvd.
A basement occupies the upper portion of the caisson and originally contained a cistern for collecting water. Above the basement, the tower is divided into four levels. Surrounded by an exterior gallery deck, the first level served as a sitting room, kitchen and storage area for the lighthouse keepers who worked and lived in the light station prior to automation in 1963. The second and third levels were sleeping quarters, and the forth level was used as a watch room. A fourth-order Fresnel lens originally surmounted the tower, which was replaced with a modern optic in 1977. Borden Flats Light Station is owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and remains an active aid to navigation, alerting navigators to avoid the reef on their approach to Fall River.
Borden Flats Light Station is located on a reef at the mouth of the Taunton River in Fall River. Owned by the U.S. Coast Guard, it is as an active aid to navigation and is closed to the public. Borden Flats Light is best seen by boat. It is also visible from points onshore and while crossing the Braga Bridge (I-195), which stretches across the Taunton River.
PT Boat 796, a Higgins-type PT Boat, measures 78 feet in length, displaces 55 tons of water and originally carried a 14-member crew. In January 1961, PT Boat 796 joined the destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. in Washington, D.C., and participated in President John F. Kennedy's Inaugural Parade. PT Boat 796 remained in use until it was decommissioned on July 7, 1970. It was obtained by J.M. "Boats" Newbury, the founder of PT Boats, Inc., a nonprofit organization of World War II PT veterans that restored and brought the vessel to Battleship Cove in 1975. PT Boat 796 along with PT Boat 617 are exhibited at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts, the world's largest collection of historic naval ships, and remain the world's only restored pair of PT Boats.
PT Boat 796, a National Historic Landmark, is located at Battleship Cove as part of the museum's historic vessel collection. Battleship Cove is located at 5 Water St. in Fall River, and is open to the public throughout the year for a fee. The times change slightly from season to season, and Battleship Cove is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. For up-to-date information, please call 508-678-1100 or visit Battleship Cove's website.
Early in the war, the U.S. Navy standardized the design and construction of the PT Boat. Two basic and distinctly different types of PT Boats were built for combat—the predominant PT, the 80-foot long "Elco" boat, like PT Boat 617, and the 78-foot long "Higgins" boat, like PT Boat 796. The wooden PT Boat 617 measures 80 feet in length with a 21-foot beam and displaces 54 tons. After participating in the Victory Loan Bond Drive in October and November 1945, PT Boat 617 was decommissioned on January 28, 1946. It was sold into private hands on October 23, 1947, and used as a yacht, as a salvage vessel and as a diving platform in Florida. PT Boats, Inc., a nonprofit organization of World War II PT Boat veterans, bought the boat in 1979 and began restoration work. On September 1, 1985, PT Boat 617 went on display at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts, which is the world's largest collection of historic naval ships, along with PT Boat 796. PT Boat 617 and PT Boat 796 are the world's only restored pair of PT Boats today.
PT Boat 617, a National Historic Landmark, is located at Battleship Cove as part of the museum's historic vessel collection. Battleship Cove is located at 5 Water St. in Fall River, and is open to the public throughout the year for a fee. The times change slightly from season to season, and Battleship Cove is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. For up-to-date information, please call 508-678-1100 or visit Battleship Cove's website.
The USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. played a significant role in the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Blockade and America's space program. In 1951, the vessel received battle stars for the first United Nations counter-offensive and for the Communist China Spring Offensive in the Korean War. In 1961, the weapons systems, electronics and communications aboard the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. were modified. The vessel received worldwide attention the following year when it participated in the Cuban Blockade. The USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., along with the USS Pierce, intercepted, halted and boarded the Russian-chartered freighter Marcula. In addition, the vessel served as part of the NASA recovery forces for the Gemini 6, Gemini 7, Gemini 12 and Apollo 4 missions. Robert F. Kennedy, the brother of the vessel's namesake Joseph Kennedy, Jr., served on the ship. President John F. Kennedy watched the America's Cup race from the second deck in 1962. Decommissioned in 1973, the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. was moved to Battleship Cove in 1974.
The USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., a National Historic Landmark, is located at Battleship Cove as part of the museum's historic vessel collection. Battleship Cove is located at 5 Water St. in Fall River, and is open to the public throughout the year for a fee. The times change slightly from season to season, and Battleship Cove is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. For up-to-date information, please call 508-678-1100 or visit Battleship Cove's website.
American submarines sank more than 600,000 tons of enemy warships and more than 5,000,000 tons of merchant shipping, thus destroying much of Japan's ocean commerce. The USS Lionfish made two war patrols in the Pacific and is believed to have sunk an I-Class Japanese submarine and a 100-ton schooner. The Lionfish received one battle star for wartime service. Following the war, the submarine entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet and was put back into service in 1951 on the Atlantic Coast. Decommissioned at the Boston Navy Yard in 1953, the USS Lionfish was again called to duty from 1960 to 1972 as a reserve training submarine in Providence, Rhode Island. The submarine arrived in 1972 at Battleship Cove, the world's largest collection of historic naval ships, in Fall River, Massachusetts. A memorial to the 52 American submarines lost during World War II is displayed in the bunkroom of the vessel.
The USS Lionfish, a National Historic Landmark, is located at Battleship Cove on 5 Water St. in Fall River. Battleship Cove is open to the public throughout the year for a fee. The times change slightly from season to season and Battleship Cove is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. For up-to-date information, please call 508-678-1100 or visit Battleship Cove's website.
The USS Massachusetts is representative of the South Dakota-class of American battleships that fought against Japan in World War II. The battleship is evidence of America's continued preparation for the war and for the development of a more advanced battleship design. "Big Mamie" played a significant role in World War II. Beginning in November 1942, the USS Massachusetts saw action in Pacific and European operations. The battleship fired the first 16-inch American projectiles of the war, as well as the last. Over the course of the war, the USS Massachusetts sank or damaged five enemy ships and shot down 39 aircraft, earning 11 battle stars for its wartime service. Following the war, the vessel returned to the United States and operated with the Pacific Fleet until mid-1946 when it was decommissioned. In 1962, the USS Massachusetts was stricken from the Navy Register, ordered sold for scrap and some 5,000 tons of equipment was removed for use on other naval vessels. Its wartime crew—with the help of Massachusetts school children—raised sufficient funds to bring it to Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts. The battleship opened to the public two months later.
The USS Massachusetts, a National Historic Landmark, is located at Battleship Cove as part of the museum's historic vessel collection. Battleship Cove is located at 5 Water St. in Fall River, and is open to the public throughout the year for a fee. The times change slightly from season to season, and Battleship Cove is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. For up-to-date information, please call 508-678-1100 or visit Battleship Cove's website.
Built in 1770 at 2298 Pleasant Street, the Old Customs House was the local customs collector's house and also contained a small office where he collected taxes on goods shipped to Dighton. The houses of customs collectors often served as the first customhouse at a port. Remodeled around 1830, it is a two-story, clapboard building resting on a brick foundation with a two-story rear ell addition. The Elkanah Andrews/James Spooner House located at 2308 Pleasant Street was built about 1770 then enlarged around 1830. After establishing himself as a successful sea captain, Andrews built his house and the wharf that still bears his name. The Spooner Wharf is located just east of the Andrews Wharf and was also initially operated by Andrews and his sons. The Eddy House at 2320 Pleasant Street was built for one of Andrews' sons in 1770 and modified and expanded into an Italianate design around 1870. Dating from the 1750s, the Darius Perry House is a one-and-one-half story, Cape style house standing at 2328 Pleasant Street, which was modified and extended during the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. The Perry House is directly opposite the Perry Wharf that Darius Perry operated. Darius Perry was a seaman and merchant, who was very active in town affairs. The three wharves provided anchorage for the ships coming in and out of the busy port when Dighton was at its height as a commercial distribution point for southern and central New England.
The Dighton Wharves Historic District is located from 2298 to 2328 Pleasant St. in Dighton. Today, the historic homes in the district are privately owned, and the wharves are used for pleasure crafts.
Thomas Coram, a master shipbuilder, arrived in New England around 1692, married Eunice Wait of Boston, and moved to Dighton the following year to start a shipbuilding business. The Coram Shipyard was likely in operation as early as 1698. Coram joined in partnership with fellow Englishman John Hathaway around 1700. Hathaway built his home next to Coram's home, where they could monitor the operation of the jointly-owned shipyard and wharf. Both early Georgian homes are of wood-frame construction and are of similar size and rectangular massing. The John Hathaway House at 2120 Water Street was built around 1700 and clearly retains its Georgian appearance. Updated with an Italianate porch in the 1870s, the Thomas Coram House at 2130 Water Street was originally built about 1699. The district's two houses have continued in residential use throughout their later years. The Coram Shipyard site is currently the location of the Taunton Yacht Club, which was organized in 1895 and purchased the Coram Shipyard site and Coram Wharf as home for its recreational yachting program.
The Coram Shipyard Historic District is located along Water St. and the bank of the Taunton River in Dighton. The historic homes in the district are privately owned and not open to the public. The shipyard is now the Taunton Yacht Club at 2125 Water St.; call 508-669-6007 for further information about the club.
Links to Maritime and Massachusetts History, Tourism and Preservation Websites
National Park Service Maritime Heritage Program
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism
Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation
Massachusetts Historical Society
American Lighthouse Foundation
United States Lighthouse Society
US Life-Saving Service Heritage Association
Massachusetts Maritime Museums
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
Maritime-related National Parks and National Heritage Areas of Massachusetts
National Park Service Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER)
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Historic Hotels of America
National Park Service Office of Tourism
National Scenic Byways Program
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Carse, Robert. The Young Mariners: A History of Maritime Salem. New York: W.W. Norton, 1966.
Knight, James E. and David Wenzel. Salem Days: Life in a Colonial Seaport. Mahwah, New Jersey: Troll Associates, 1982.
Maritime History of Massachusetts was produced by the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places and Maritime Heritage Program in partnership with the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO). It was created under the direction of the John W. Roberts, Acting Chief of the National Register of Historic Places, Patrick W. Andrus, Heritage Tourism Program Manager, and Beth L. Savage, Publications Managing Editor, in cooperation with Carol D. Shull, Chief of Heritage Education Services. Maritime History of Massachusetts is based on information in the files of the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks collections. These materials are kept at 1201 Eye St., NW, Washington, D.C., and are open to the public from 9:00am to 12:00pm, Monday through Thursday.
The itinerary was conceptualized by Jennifer Perunko and Karmen Bisher (NCSHPO) of the Maritime Heritage Program, who wrote the descriptions of each property based upon National Register nominations. Contextual essays were also written by Karmen Bisher. Shannon Davis (NCSHPO) coordinated web production for the Maritime Heritage Program and National Register, designed the itinerary maps and template pages, and edited the itinerary. Jeff Joeckel (NCSHPO) designed the homepage. Thank you to Annie Harris, Essex National Heritage Area; Jeremy D'Entremont, www.lighthouse.cc; Betsy Friedberg, Massachusetts Historical Commission; and Christopher J. Nardi, Battleship Cove, and iussa.org for their contributions and assistance.