Headrock Beach (Old Garden), Rockport, Mass., c. 1937


I have sometimes seen Old Garden Beach called by the name on this postcard, Headrock Beach. Perhaps the name is from the large, head-shaped rock that sits near the beach’s far end.

As you may be able to see from the texture in this image, this is a linen postcard. Postcards with this linen-embossed texture were popular from the 1930s to the early 1950s and often had vivid colors such as this.

This postcard was published by H. C. Brown Inc. in Gloucester. It was printed by Tichnor Brothers, a Boston publishing company that was in business from 1912 to 198. The card is postmarked 1950 but I have seen the identical card with a 1940 postmark. For that reason, I estimate its date to be roughly 1937.

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Gap Cove, Rockport, Mass., circa 1915


This view is looking from Straitsmouth Point across Gap Cove, with the Twin Lights of Thacher Island in the distance. The Straitsmouth Inn would have been a bit farther down the road to the left. The two shed-like buildings were probably part of the inn.

I’ve posted another postcard from this same publisher, Grafton Butman, showing a view that would have been from just a little farther down along this same road. That view showed the Straitsmouth Inn’s tennis courts and the view across Gap Cove to Straitsmouth Island.

Although I estimated that image to be from around 1919, the one above was postmarked in 1916, so the photograph was likely taken in 1915 or earlier.

Below is a photograph of roughly the same scene today. As you can see, the low popplestone wall is still there. The house on the far side of the cove has been replaced by a more modern structure.


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Found on the Web: Gap Head and Straitsmouth, 1888


This 1888 photograph is described as a view of Rockport Point with Straitsmouth Island in the background. This point is more commonly known as Gap Head or Straitsmouth Point. What is remarkable about this view is that it is before any buildings were constructed on the point. The life saving station at Gap Cove was built a year after this picture was taken. The Straitsmouth Inn, which stood at the tip of this point, was built in 1906.

The photo below shows today’s view of Gap Head to the left and Straitsmouth Island to the right. I was not able to get to the location where the above photo was taken without going into someone’s backyard (or maybe even into someone’s house).


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The Old Log Cabin, at the Foot of Cove Hill, Oldest House in Rockport, Mass.


The postcard identifies this house — which still stands at the corner of Mt. Pleasant Street and Atlantic Ave. — as the oldest house in Rockport. The plaque that is on the house now says it was built in 1680 by Joshua Norwood, father of Caleb. But based on what I read, the house is not the oldest in Rockport, was not built in 1680, and was not built by Joshua Norwood.


A similar view of the house today.

According to the History of the Town of Rockport, published in 1888, this house was built by Caleb Norwood, Joshua’s son, on land adjacent to Gap Cove.

“[The] house, on the corner of Mt. Pleasant St. and Atlantic Avenue, according to tradition, is the house built by Caleb and removed to its present position about eighty years ago,” the history says.


The view from the corner of Mt. Pleasant and Atlantic Ave.

Joshua Norwood and his family moved to Gap Cove around 1740 (different sources give different dates). Joshua first moved to Pigeon Cove in 1694, so he did not even live in the area at the time the plaque says he built the house. For many years, he and his family (he and his wife had 14 children) lived in what is now known as the Witch House. It appears that the family moved out of the area for a time, to Attleboro, Mass., and settled in Gap Cove when they returned.

Caleb was born  in 1736 so the house would not have been built until some years after that, presumably when he was a young man. That would mean it was built closer to 1755 or so. Based on the history’s account, it would have been moved to its present location around 1800.


This plaque is on the house.

Caleb is famous around Rockport as the boy who supposedly discovered pirates’ treasure at Gully Cove in 1752. (Eleanor Parson’s  book, Rockport: The Making of a Tourist Treasure, says he was 13 at the time, but all records I find say he was born in 1736, which would mean he was 16 in 1752.) Thanks to the treasure, he grew up to be a wealthy man and built several houses. As I’ve previously noted, one is the Headland House on Norwood Avenue, which he build in 1781 and which later became the home of artist Harrison Cady.

This postcard was published by the Rockport Photo Bureau. I estimate the date of the postcard to be approximately 1925.

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Sailors Resting on the Wharf, Rockport, Mass., circa 1906


Sailors line the north side of T-Wharf as a small number of curious onlookers watch them. Behind them, a two-masted schooner is docked at the wharf, but I doubt the schooner had any relation to these sailors. More likely, the sailors were ashore off one of the warships that regularly visited Rockport in those days, and the schooner was one of the granite schooners that regularly tied up there.

Although the caption identifies these men as sailors, most appear to be wearing a khaki-colored uniform that looks more like a Marine or Army uniform from the period. I’m no expert in military apparel, but I IMG_2675-cuthave to wonder if these men are Marines.

In the background to the left of the postcard, you can see the large building at the foot of Bearskin Neck that still stands there today, as you can see from the photo to the right. Just to the left of this building in the early 1900s was Waddell’s boat yard. I think this building was part of Waddell’s.

This postcard was published by The Rotograph Co. of New York City and was printed in Germany. The company was in business only from 1904 to 1911.

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Blondon, Bay View, c. 1915 (In Honor of Barbara Erkkila)


I was sorry to learn about the death this week of Barbara Erkkila. A longtime journalist and historian, her 1980 book, Hammers on Stone: The History of Cape Ann Granite, is the definitive account of granite quarrying in Gloucester and Rockport.

Hammers on StoneHad I not read Barbara’s book, I might never have known what a “blondon” was, the contraption shown in this scene from one of the quarries in the Bay View section of Gloucester. A blondon was a cable running between two wooden (later metal) towers that was used to lift and move the big blocks of granite cut from the quarry. Here is Barbara’s description:

The moved those great stones by an aerial lift arrangement of cables between two wooden towers that they called a ‘blondin.’ The terms was evidently in honor of the French acrobat, Charles Blondin (real name Jean Francois Gravelet). The Frenchman had nonchalantly walked across a rope at Niagara Falls about 1860, stopping halfway to make an omelette on a stove he had brought along on his back. He lowered the cooked egg dish to the people on the Maid of the Mist tourist steamer far down below him. Then, picking up the stove once more, he continued on his way across the rope to the opposite side. Thousands watched him, their mouths open in disbelief.

Note that the postcard spelled it “blondon” and Barbara spelled it “blondin.” Searching both words online, I found an article about a quarry in England in the late 1800s and early 1900s that used blondon, with the “o.” But a Wikipedia entry uses the “blondin” version that Barbara used, also identifying tightrope walker Charles Blondin as the source of the name. It says that the first known use of blondins in the quarry industry was in Wales in 1913.

This postcard has no information on the reverse that identifies the publisher or date, except that it appears to be from before 1917.

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Streets that Have Disappeared Around Marmion Way

In writing my last post about a Marmion Way cottage, I looked at a map of the area from 1899. I was surprised to see that it contained several streets that no longer exist. Compare the two views below, one from the 1899 map and the other from today’s Google Earth. If you look carefully, you will see streets on the old map that have disappeared entirely. They include:

  • Glencoe Road, which ran from what is now called Lighthouse Lane (across from Gully Point Cove) over to Straitsmouth Way. Today there is a short road off Straitsmouth, Stone Haven Lane, that may be a remnant of Glencoe.
  • Clydesdale Road, which ran from Whale Cove straight across to where Marmion intersects with Old Garden Road. It appears that today’s Richards Avenue was formerly part of Clydesdale. I found a 2008 town of Rockport document that shows Clydesdale as still running between Straitsmouth and Marmion.
  • Between Clydesdale and Marmion are several streets — Grampian, Cheviot and Rokeby, that have all disappeared.

Do any readers remember any of these streets or know what became of them?



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