This distinctive round building, which still stands on Atlantic Ave. overlooking Rockport harbor, was for many years the studio of artist and illustrator Harrison Cady. Cady is best known for his collaboration with writer Thornton W. Burgess, producing dozens of books and hundreds of comics. In 1910, they published their first book, Old Mother West Wind, in which Cady illustrated characters such as Peter Rabbit, Jimmy Skunk, Chippy Chipmunk, Reddy Fox and many others. Besides producing numerous children’s books with Burgess, Cady drew comic strips, was an illustrator for Life and other magazines and newspapers, and created a variety of other illustrations and paintings, including many of Rockport.
Cady was born in Gardner, Mass., in 1877, and died in 1970 in his home in New York City. At age 18, he moved from Gardner to New York and it was around then that he first visited Rockport. Regular summer visits soon turned into permanent summer residence here. In 1921, Cady was one of the founders of the Rockport Art Association.
I do not know when Cady first built this studio. It is described in a 1923 Boston Daily Globe article about the unusual buildings some Rockport artists used for their studios. According to that article, Cady constructed the studio from a former silo. Another source I read conjectured that the building was a former gas house from the old Annisquam Cotton Mill in Rockport. The Globe seemed to have gotten the silo story straight from Cady, so that may be the more credible report.
As far as I can tell, the house — also round — that is now attached to the studio was added after Cady’s death. Cady lived in a different house on Atlantic Ave. In a 1960 interview with the Boston Daily Globe, he said the house he lived in had been built in 1781, “with pirates’ money.”
To spend your career drawing rabbits and other animals for comics and children’s books no doubt requires a sense of humor. Cady had a good one, it seems. In that 1960 interview, he told the reporter that he and his wife were once on the other side of Rockport when they noticed smoke billowing out of their house. “We hurried home quickly and found 40 little rabbits sitting on our fence all smoking cigars,” he told the reporter.
In a 1945 newspaper interview, Cady talked about his long love of summering in Rockport. Alluding to the large summer colony of artists that helped cement Rockport’s fame, Cady quipped, “The only way to be inconspicuous in this town, I’ve discovered, is NOT to be an artist.”
This postcard was published by the Rockport Photo Bureau. It is undated. I am estimating the date of the card as 1930, but it could be earlier. Note the fishing schooner on the horizon.