Rockport Granite Co. Advertising Booklet, c. 1895

This is an eight-page advertising brochure for Rockport Granite Company. It was engraved and printed by John A. Lowell & Co. of Boston. It is undated. I estimate its date to be around 1895. My reason for this is primarily because the back cover lists Charles S. Rogers as treasurer of the Rockport Granite Co. He became treasurer in 1892, so this was sometime after that. Interestingly, the cover image was used as early as 1883, when it was the cover for the Thanksgiving menu of a restaurant called The Arlington. Two of the images are taken from an 1885 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

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Visiting Day at the ‘Witch House,’ Pigeon Cove, circa 1920

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A couple days late for Halloween, but here is another view of the Witch House in Pigeon Cove. I’ve posted several other images of this house, which you can find herehere, here and here.

The name comes from the popular story that the house was built in 1692 by two brothers from Salem to protect their mother, who fled Salem on suspicion of being a witch. The house is also called the Garrison House and some accounts say the original structure was built in 1676 as a defense garrison during King Philip’s War.

The caption and picture on this postcard suggest that the house was once open to visitors. The house is now a private residence. It had been owned by the same family since 1925, but was sold to a new owner last year.

The postcard was published by Rockport Photo Bureau. There is no date or postmark. Judging by the markings on the reverse of the card and the fashion of the people pictured, I estimate it to be from around 1920.

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Eaton Cottage, Rockport, Mass., circa 1908

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This house still stands at 50 Eden Road in Rockport. The legend on the postcard says that the house was built in 1908 by Bailey & Hosmer. (Online listings for this house say it was built in 1906.)

The postcard identifies it as the Eaton Cottage. From records I’ve found, the house was then owned as a summer cottage by Mr. and Mrs. Francis Eaton of Medford, Mass.

I have other postcards showing houses built by this same construction firm. I assume these were printed by the firm to use as promotional materials.

Note the cottages in the background to the left of the house. These are also still there. Two of them are easily recognizable as twins. Previously, I posted three 1910 views of Eden Road in which you can see both the house pictured above and the twin cottages.

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This is a view of the same house taken recently, shot with a zoom lens from across Loblolly Cove.

This postcard was mailed on May 5, 1909, to a Frank Crandall of Dorchester, Mass. There was a person by that name born in Dorchester in 1890, which would have made him 19. He later moved to Weymouth, Mass.

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Pigeon Cove from Pigeon Hill, circa 1912

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Here is a view of Pigeon Hill in the days when it was much more bare and cows roamed its pastures. This postcard is from the Rockport Photo Bureau. The card is not dated, but based on its similarity to other cards, I estimate it to be from approximately 1912. Note the chimney of the Cape Ann Tool Company in the background.

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Pebble Beach, Rockport, Mass., circa 1915

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The caption calls this Long Beach in Rockport, but the beach shown here is more commonly called Pebble Beach (and sometimes Pebblestone Beach), presumably for the popplestones that often cover it. It is just northeast of Cape Hedge Beach, which, in turn, is just northeast of the actual Long Beach. This area is often called Land’s End. 

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Townspeople turn out for the landing of the cable in 1884.

Pebble Beach’s place in history is secured by the landing of a transatlantic cable here in 1884. Up to then, a French company, the Atlantic Telegraph Company, was the sole provider of transatlantic telegraph cables. James Gordon Bennett, editor of the New York Herald, was dissatisfied was the 50 cents per word he had to pay for transatlantic telegraphs. Seeking to break ATC’s monopoly, he convinced millionaire John W. Mackay to create the Commercial Cable Company. That company put down two cables from Ireland to Nova Scotia, and two more from there, one to Rockaway Beach, Long Island, and the other to Rockport. 

The cable company office on Norwood Ave.

The cable company office on Norwood Ave.

The May 22, 1884, arrival of the cable ship SS Faraday to lay the end of the cable on Pebble Beach was a huge event in town. Townspeople swarmed to the beach in droves as church bells and cannons announced the vessel’s arrival. A formal dinner was held that night, with many dignitaries in attendance. However, the captain and crew of the Faraday declined the invitation to attend, because they had to immediately steam out and attend to another piece of the cable. 

The cable house on Pebble Beach.

The cable house on Pebble Beach.

Two buildings remain in Rockport as a legacy of this historic cable. At the Cape Hedge end of Pebble Beach is a house that has been built up from the original structure built to serve as the cable station. And on Norwood Avenue is the building that served as the office of the Commercial Cable Company, where it is now a private home. 

The cable house as it looks today.

The cable house as it looks today.

For a better view of the two houses shown here, see this 1910 real photo postcard. For a view of Henry’s Pond, which would be just to the left of the beach, out of sight on this postcard, see this 1910 postcard

This postcard was mailed in 1918. There is no publisher identified. 

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Rockport Granite Eagle for Boston’s Custom House Tower, c. 1914

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In 1908, planning began to expand the Custom House on State Street in Boston, originally built in 1837. The preeminent architecture firm Peabody and Stearns won the commission for the design. When expanding horizontally proved unfeasible, the idea was hatched for a tower. Construction began in 1913. When it was completed in 1915, the 500-foot tower was Boston’s first “skyscraper.” It remained Boston’s tallest building until 1964, when the Prudential Center was built.

Custom House EaglesThe tower was constructed entirely of Rockport granite supplied by the Rockport Granite Company. A crowning achievement was the sculpting and placement of four stone eagles on each corner of the 30-story tower’s 20th floor ledge.

The 16-foot tall eagles were sculpted in Rockport Granite Company’s Bay View plant, transported to Boston, raised to the 20th floor, and mounted, where they remain today. The first of the eagles was installed in 1914.

CustomHouseTower2In this real photo postcard, you see one of the eagles (and possibly another behind it) at the Bay View plant. A man, a young girl and a young boy pose proudly atop it. On the bottom of the card, barely legible is written, “On (sic) of eagles on Custom House Boston.”

According to Barbara Erkkila’s book about the Cape Ann granite industry, Hammers on Stone: A History of Cape Ann Granite, it took 11 pieces of granite to make each eagle, and 15 men working for a month to cut the stone for just one of them.

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Rockport Granite Photos: Granite Pier or Bay View?

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These are two prints of photographs taken by Herman W. Spooner of workers at the Rockport Granite Co. The photographs are undated but were most likely taken between 1900 and 1910. The question is where they were taken — Granite Pier or Bay View. If you can help answer that, let me know.

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The building at Granite Pier.

Rockport Granite had piers in Rockport, at what is today known as Granite Pier, and in Gloucester, at Bay View. Both piers had buildings that looked just like this. For a view of the building on Granite Pier, see this. For a view of the building at Bay View, see this.

If it was Granite Pier, the perspective would have to be from the other end of the building than you see in the picture at right. The houses in the background don’t seem to match any you see from there today, but there is a lot of new construction and tree growth, so it is hard to say.

The photographer, Spooner, lived from 1870-1941. His day job was as a civil engineer in Gloucester. But he was also a member of the turn-of-the-century Cape Ann Camera Club and a prolific photographer of Cape Ann scenes, vessels and people. Some of his photos are at the Cape Ann Museum and others can be found in Joseph E. Garland’s 1983 book, Down to the Sea: The Fishing Schooners of Gloucester.

Possibly one of Spooner’s most recognizable photographs is his 1900 portrait of fisherman Oliver Emerton. You can see more about it at the Cape Ann Museum. As best as I can determine, Emerton was close to 90 when this photo was taken (he was born in 1814 and died in 1908). His father, also named Oliver Emerton, was also a seaman and was lost at sea during a voyage in 1815, when Oliver was just a year old.

As an engineer, Spooner in 1904 designed a tunnel to run under the Blynman Canal in order to supply fresh water to the city of Gloucester. For 100 years, the Spooner Tunnel supplied water to over 70 percent of Gloucester. It was finally replaced in 2013.

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