In the late 1800s and early 1900s, warships from the U.S. Navy’s North Atlantic Squadron were regular visitors to Sandy Bay. News reports from the time suggest the squadron’s arrival was always a notable event. For example, a July 9, 1899, New York Times article reported:
The fleet was met by a Reception Committee of Rockport citizens, who formally extended a welcome to the town. …
This evening a dance was given at Turk’s Head Inn in honor of the officers of the squadron, which was attended by a large and brilliant assemblage. Bonfires and fireworks also lighted up the shores, although the display was greatly interfered with by the heavy fog.
Sounds like the Fourth of July, only with multiple bonfires along the shoreline. Similarly, a July 17, 1906, New York Times report on the squadron’s arrival in Rockport told of the dignitaries who would arrive to greet it:
A feature of the visit of the fleet will be a banquet by the members of the North Shore Summer colony at Turk’s Head Inn, on July 20. Admiral Dewey, Rear Admiral Evans, and fifty of the line officers; Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, and Attorney General William H. Moody have been invited to be present.
This German-made card is postmarked 1909. Obviously, the photograph would have been taken earlier than that. I’m guessing that the photo is from the squadron’s 1906 visit, based on other photos that I’ve seen.