The Turk’s Head Inn was once Rockport’s grandest getaway. As I noted in an earlier post, when the U.S. Navy fleet and visiting dignitaries came to town, this is where they came to be feted.
The 2007 book, Summer by the Seaside: The Architecture of New England Coastal Resort Hotels, 1820-1950, says that Rockport in the early 1900s had only one resort worthy of inclusion in the book, the Turk’s Head Inn. It provides this description:
“Once situated at Land’s End on South Street, with ocean views to Thatcher’s and Milk islands, was the Turk’s Head Inn, the initial portion erected from 1889 to 1990 (sic, 1890 perhaps?) by builder J.M. Wetherill of Rockport based on plans by architect H.M. Stephenson of Boston. Impressively sited on a 150-foot elevation, this rambling, E-shaped Colonial Revival structure possessed a seaboard frontage of two hundred feet and wraparound verandas over three hundred feet in length. Proving vertical sight lines to what was otherwise a flat, horizontal edifice were tall brick chimneys and an octagonal tower with spire roof cap. The main entrance opened into a large hall with a massive fireplace of Rockport granite, accessing parlors, a music room, a spacious, L-shaped dining room, and other public spaces.
Over the years, the Turk’s Head Inn suffered a number of fires, and its central and southeast wings were rebuilt, the latter in 1905 by then owner C.B. Martin. With a peak capacity of 200, the hotel, uncharacteristic of the regional hospitality industry, remained in operation for eighty years before it was closed down, partially destroyed by fire, and the remains removed in 1970 to make way for the present Turk’s Head Motor Inn. The original inn was the last survivor of Cape Ann’s distinguished collection of large resort hotels originating prior to 1950, and a representative example of the last phase of the Gilded Age hotel era along Boston’s North Shore.
This postcard, published by The Rotograph Co., bears a 1905 postmark, which would have been the year described above in which two wings were rebuilt after a fire. Note the horse-drawn carriage parked in front — perhaps the 1905 equivalent of a taxi.