The Witch House, Pigeon Cove, Mass., c. 1915

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This is a real-photo postcard of the house that still stands at 188 Granite Street in Pigeon Cove. The house — which is listed on The National Register of Historic Places — is often called the Witch House thanks to a popular story that it was built in 1692 by two brothers from Salem to protect their mother, who suspected of being a witch.

The house is also called the Garrison House and some believe it to be the earliest surviving building in Rockport. According to this story, the original part of the structure was built in 1676 as a defense garrison during King Philip’s War.

We know for certain that, starting in 1704, Joshua Norwood and his family lived here for some 30 years, until they moved to Gap Cove near Straitsmouth Point. In the mid-1800s, the house was run as a boarding house by John Wheeler. A prominent guest who often stayed there was Richard Henry Dana, the poet and lawyer and father of Richard Henry Data, the antislavery activist and author of Two Years Before the Mast.

For two years beginning in 1870, the house was occupied by Dr. Augustus M. Tupper, a popular physician in Rockport for 50 years. In 1925, the house was purchased by Oliver Williams and remains owned by the Williams family.

For more about the history of the house, see my prior posts here, here and here.

The postcard was postmarked in Rockport on Aug. 30, 1915. The sender’s note on the reverse says, “Rockport exceeds my dreams — it is wonderful.”

 

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Engine House No. 1, Rockport, Mass., c. 1912

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This engine house on Front Beach in Rockport was home to the Sandy Bay fire company until 1939, when a new combined fire and police station was built on Broadway. The core of this building was originally constructed as a fire house in Dock Square in 1830 and then moved to Beach St. in 1855. The tower was for drying the cotton hoses they then used.

(Another source I found said that the building was constructed in 1827 in Dock Square and moved in 1829.)

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Undated photo showing the steamer and firefighters Michael Slevin, William K. Evans, Frank Fears and Andrew Robb. (Probably c. 1900, when Robb was the captain of the Steamer No. 1 company.)

After it went out of service as a firehouse in 1939, it was used for many years as a facility for tourists. It was demolished less than a decade ago and replaced with new tourist restrooms.

The first fire department in Sandy Bay was organized in January 1807. The first fire engine was purchased in 1827. The second fire engine was purchased by Gloucester and located in the building pictured here. Around 1885, the town bought the steamer “Sandy Bay” and this building became its home.

This postcard was postmarked on July 30, 1912. There is no information about its publisher.

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The Bowling Alley on Bearskin Neck, c. 1938

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A recent posting here show a view across T-Wharf towards Bearskin Neck and the building that once was adjacent to (or part of) Waddell’s boat yard. Someone posted a comment asking if it was true that the building once housed a bowling alley.

It is true, and in the photo above you can see the word “Bowling” painted along the side of the building, which stands near the foot of Bearskin Neck. This photo is from the Boston Public Library collection and is estimated to be from around 1938.

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The James Babson Shop, Built in 1658

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The earliest grant of land in what is now Rockport was to James Babson in 1658. It consisted of 32 acres in the area long known as Beaver Dam. After Babson acquired it, the property became known as the James Babson Farm. Here, Babson built this cooperage shop, where he built barrels that were used to ship fish from Good Harbor Beach to England and the West Indies. The building still stands and is maintained as a museum by the Babson Historical Society.

Babson was born in England in 1622 and came to Salem in 1637 with his mother and brother. By 1642, he had moved to Gloucester. He died in 1683 at the age of 61. He was a forbear of Roger W. Babson, the founder of Babson College and the man responsible for the Babson Boulders in Dogtown. James Babson’s son, Ebenezer, was the man who supposedly killed a bear on what is now known — thanks to him — as Bearskin Neck.

Nugent FarmhouseIn the mid 1800s, the property was occupied by the Manning family, who built the house you see in the picture to the right. According to a Manning family genealogy, William N. Manning was born here at Beaver Dam Farm in 1834. I’ve written before about Manning, who at one point owned an organ factory located in Millbrook Meadow. He also wrote the song, “Our Cape Ann Home.”

In the late 1800s, the property was owned by Patrick Nugent — the namesake of Nugent Stretch, the name for the stretch of road where the property sits. I believe that is Nugent and is family in the photo above. At the time of his death in 1900 at age 51, Nugent had been restoring the property “to its old time appearance,” according to a report in the Gloucester Times.

At some point, Nugent operated a fertilizer plant on the property. I found one news report saying that, after he died, an East Boston fertilizer company planned to move its operations to the Beaver Dam site, although I cannot confirm that ever happened.

In 1913, one of Nugent’s sons, John, died a tragic death when a frightened horse caused him to be thrown from a wagon. Just three months later, another of Nugent’s sons, Robert, died on the Beaver Dam property when he was thrown from a motorcycle.

In 1925, the then-vacant house was set on fire by two boys looking for some excitement. Fire fighters were able to save it without much loss, according to a news report.

This postcard was published by Artvue Post Card Co., New York. There is no date on the card, but Artvue started publishing in 1936 and continued through the mid-1960s.

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Two Views of 11 Long Branch Ave., 1909 and 1913

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Here are two real-photo postcards, both showing the cottage that still stands at 11 Long Branch Avenue in Pigeon Cove. The second card identifies the cottage by the name Sans Souci. According to an online realty site, the house was originally built in 1875.

1918 magazine ad for the cottage

The first card was postmarked in Pigeon Cove on Sept. 1, 1909. The sender of the card was a summer visitor to Rockport who was staying in a room on the top floor. On the front porch are two women, a boy and a dog.

The second card is postmarked Aug. 2, 1913. Note that the second-floor balcony has been extended to wrap around the side of the house. In this picture, a man and a woman are seated at the top of the entry stairs. A car is parked beside the house.

I found a reference to this cottage in the 1919 edition of Who’s Who Along the North Shore, indicating the cottage was occupied that summer by Mr. and Mrs. Fred Shorey of Los Angeles and their daughter-in-law Emily J. Shorey.

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At right is a picture of the house at it looks today. As you can see, it has been added on to. However, certain features remain distinctive, such as the three-framed window at the top of the house’s front, the slight bow below it, just above the second-floor windows, the dormer jutting out from the roof, and the chimney above it.

In the undated picture below, which is from the Andrews Woods website, you can see the house on the right side of picture, to the left of the barn-like building closest to the water.

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U.S. Life Saving Station, Rockport, in Living Color, 1905

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Here is a colorized version of a card I previously posted in black and white, showing the life saving station at Gap Cove in Rockport. Both cards are from The Rotograph Company in New York and bear a 1905 copyright date.

As I’ve noted before, the station was build in 1889. It was originally called Gap Head Station and then became Straitsmouth Station in 1902. It was active as a life saving station until 1964.

For other images related to the station, see here.

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The Recchia Home, 6 Summer St., Rockport, 1906

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Everyone in Rockport knows the iconic statue of a baby riding a frog that stands adjacent to the Rockport Art Association on Main Street. The sculptor and portrait artist who created that piece, Richard H. Recchia, and his wife, the writer and artist Kitty Parsons Recchia, lived in this home at 6 Summer St., where they also built a studio. The Recchias called the house “Hardscrabble.” Both the home and the studio are still there.

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Recchia’s “Baby and Frog” is outside the Rockport Art Association. Another version is in Brookgreen Gardens in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

The house was built in 1837, according to online real estate records. Parsons, who was born in 1889 in Stratford, Conn., first lived here with her family before she met Recchia. Her family summered in Gloucester before they moved to this house. They probably already lived here when this photograph was taken. In fact, the postcard is signed, “Kitty,” and could have come from her.

It was in Rockport that Parsons met her future husband. Recchia was born in 1885 in Quincy, Mass. His father, a marble carver from Verona, Italy, taught the young Recchia to sculpt. From 1904 to 1907, Recchia attended the school of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and continued to work there until 1912 as an assistant to the sculptor Bela L. Pratt. It appears that he moved to Rockport sometime around 1926 and married Kitty in 1927.

(Before he came to Rockport, he was married to another woman, Anita, who he met while living in Paris, and with whom he had two children. In this oral history recording from 1978, he said that he was married to Anita until 1926, when she died. However, his recollection of some dates does not always comport with other records.)

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Recchia’s diver is behind the Rockport Art Association

One of his best-known works is the mammoth statue of Revolutionary War hero General John Stark that stands near his grave in Manchester, N.H. His statue “Mother Goose” stood in the children’s room of the old Carnegie Library until it closed in 1993. (I can find no record of where the statue went after that.) His bronze statue of a woman about to dive stands behind the Rockport Art Association. For many years, it was in his studio and then in his yard.

Kitty Parsons was a founding member of the Rockport Art Association in 1920 and editor of Artists of the Rockport Art Association published in 1940. Other books she wrote include Dogtown Commons (1936), Buccaneer Ballads and Legends of Cape Ann and Essex County (1944), Gloucester Sea Ballads: True Tales of Fishermen (1948), and Christmas Offering (1956).

Kitty Parsons died in 1975. Recchia continued to live in the house until his death in 1983. He is buried at Rockport’s Beech Grove Cemetary, under a tombstone he carved for himself before his death.

For an in-depth article about this house and its famous occupants, see the post about it at The Landmark Files. To hear Recchia talk about his life, listen to these oral history recordings.

As to the postcard, it was a real-photo postcard made from an actual photo negative. As I noted above, it was signed by someone named “Kitty,” quite possibly Kitty Parsons herself. It was postmarked on Feb. 10, 1906, when Kitty would have been around 17.

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