Last updated: April 7, 2023
Beach/Water Access, Dock/Pier, Ferry - Passenger, Grill, Picnic Table, Primitive Campsites, Restroom - Seasonal, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Toilet - Vault/Composting
Grape Island sits right off the coast of Weymouth, south of Boston. Its size varies depending on the tides: 54 acres at high tide, 101 acres at low tide. Grape Island is recognized as a wildlife haven, offering an abundance of wild berries for birds and other animals to enjoy. An island for the outdoor enthusiast, Grape Island features trails, beaches, picnic areas, and camp sites.
Similar to many of the Boston Harbor Islands, Grape Island likely provided valuable resources for early inhabitants of the area. With the arrival of European settlers in the 1600s, several of the islands, including Grape, became converted into farmland. Throughout the 1600s and early 1700s, several farmers and farming families shared ownership of the island.1
At the time of the Revolutionary War, Elisha Leavitt, a Tory Loyalist, owned the island. As British forces searched for resources in the islands during the Siege of Boston, Leavitt gave British forces access his hay. In what became known as the Battle of Grape Island, townspeople of Weymouth and the local militia saw British soldiers taking hay on May 21, 1775. Sounding the alarm, local colonial forces initially fired upon the British before taking boats to the island and driving the British away.2 Abigail Adams, living in the area, recalled the event to her husband, John Adams:
You inquire of me who were at the engagement at Grape Island. I may say with truth all of Weymouth, Braintree, Hingham, who were able to bear arms, and hundreds from other towns within twenty, thirty, and forty miles of Weymouth. Both your brothers were there; your younger brother, with his company, who gained honor by their good order that day. He was one of the first to venture on board a schooner, to land upon the island.3
Later caretakers of the small agricultural island include a Captain Smith in the late 1800s, Captain Billy McLeod and his wife from the early 1900s to the 1930s, and finally the Torresson family, who left the island around 1940.4
During the 1970s, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management designated 16 islands, including Grape Island, as part of the new Boston Harbor Islands State Park.5
- Edward Snow, The Islands of Boston Harbor (Carlisle, MA: Commonwealth Editions, 2002), 160.
- Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation, Cultural Landscape Report: Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park, Volume 1: Historical Overview (Boston: National Park Service, 2017), 30; Snow, The Islands of Boston Harbor, 161; Richard Frothingham, History of the Siege of Boston (Boston: C. C. Little and J. Borwn, 1851), 108.
- Frothingham, History of the Siege of Boston, 108-109.
- Snow, The Islands of Boston Harbor, 161-162; Cultural Landscape Report: Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park, Volume 1: Historical Overview, 31.
- Cultural Landscape Report: Boston Harbor Islands National & State Park, Volume 1: Historical Overview, 192.