Special Guest Post: Granite Shore Hotel, Rockport, circa 1915

[Note: After I last posted about the Granite Shore Hotel, I heard from Lawrence Neal, whose grandparents, Ernest and Martha Neal, bought the hotel in 1940 and operated it until 1960. He sent along the following information about his grandparents and their time with the hotel. I reprint it with his permission.]

By Lawrence Neal

In the 1920s, Ernest Neal of Newfields, N.H., bought a grocery store located in Rockport’s Dock Square. After moving to town he met Martha Bray, who was from an old Rockport family. She was then working as the local switchboard operator for the telephone company, which was located upstairs in a Main St. building. The two married, having four children with descendents still living in Rockport.

Mr. and Mrs. Neal bought the Granite Shore Inn in 1940. Shortly after that purchase, they moved the grocery store into the hotel building. The store was located at the far end of the School Street wing. The Rockport Post Office was then located in the front part of that wing which forms the corner of Main and School Streets. After the post office moved to its current site on Broadway, Oscar Spaatz rented that hotel building space and used it as his General Store. The General Store became the Madras Shop which he eventually moved across Main Street in the early 1960s.

The Neals closed their School St. grocery store in the mid-1940s, continuing to run the hotel each summer season until 1960. Because of family illness, the Neals sold the Granite Shore Inn in 1961. It was bought by Leon Rosenblum and Bea McNulty. Mr. Rosenblum had been part owner of the Baltimore Colts professional football team. They stopped operating the building as the Granite Shore Inn, instead converting it to apartments and shops. During the conversion, the outside of the building stayed much as it had always been, except they did change its color from the light gray it had always been to the dark red it is today.

Mrs. Neal always enjoyed visiting faraway places. In the early 1960s, she traveled with old Rockport friends that included Daisy and Judge Jodrey to the Holy Lands. It became one of her most unforgettable trips. In that era, overseas travel was extremely slow and difficult with distances seeming much greater than they do today. After several days of travel, to what seemed like a place completely disconnected from her Rockport home, she walked into the lobby of a Beirut, Lebanon, hotel, looked at the large oil painting hanging on the wall behind the front desk, and found it to be of the Rockport Granite Shore Inn. The painting had been bought from a traveling artist. The Lebanon hotel owner thought it portrayed one of most idealist beautiful places that he had ever seen and found it hard to believe it was of a real place.

[Postscript: The postcard above I estimate to be from 1915 — long before the Neals owned the building. It was published by the Frank W. Swallow Post Card Co. of Exeter, N.H., which also published this 1907 view. You can also see the building and the Post Office at the corner in this 1920 postcard.]

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