Missing Historical Marker at Benjamin Tarr House on South St.

The 1930 historical marker for the Benjamin Tarr House at 23 South St. has been torn down.

Here is how it looked before.

These markers were erected in 1930 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission to mark “the ancient ways of the Puritan times and the structures or places relating to or associated with the early settlements within the commonwealth.” Nearly 300 of these cast-iron markers were installed around the state. Rockport had seven of them:

  • “Old First Parish Burying Ground” on Back Street.
  • “First Settler” on Main Street.
  • “John Pool” on King Street.
  • “Old Stone Fort” on Bearskin Neck.
  • “Bear Skin Neck” at Dock Square.
  • “Samuel de Champlain” on South Street.
  • “Benjamin Tarr House” on South Street.

If someone took this down as a prank, let’s hope the person returns it.

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8 Responses to Missing Historical Marker at Benjamin Tarr House on South St.

  1. Deb says:

    I believe the state has been restoring the signs. This one is yet to be finished and returned.

  2. coffeecup says:

    Nice to know, Deb for I wondered about the sign for I haven’t seen it up in quite a while. I thought the new owners had it removed.

  3. David H. MacIntyre says:

    I enjoyed 11 great summers, (1952-63) (Thanks, Mom and Dad – !) as a teenager at 21 South Street, immediately adjacent to the Benjamin Tarr House, Rockport-town side (aka Rte 1A], a very busy street that hosted the annual Cape Ann Marathon route every summer, and we would stand out on the street and pass out water bottles to thirsty and sometimes exhausted marathon runners! I was always impressed by the Benjamin Tarr House, since it was built in ~ 1630 (appreciating Vintage Rockport’s date provided with the picture of the 1930’s tourist placard above: that is what I recall seeing each time we walked past, drove past, or, roller-skated past (!), and it appeared to be in excellent condition in the 1950’s, although nobody resided there to my knowledge.

    Our summer cottages, the back-yard farm buildings of Orrin Poole’s white farm-house residence (actually barns) were really “camp” for us kids who would walk barefoot daily down Allen’s Lane to Old Garden Beach, and then for us boys who were old enough to caddy, we caddied daily at the Rockport Golf Course, and had golf-course greens privileges every evening: had to earn that privilege by caddying that day! I had the privilege of caddying for Rockport Golf Course’s Pro, Mike Brady, Summer of ’55, who tied for the PGA / US Open in 1911 (!), and in 1955, was still playing Par golf, and usually winning daily. I shagged balls for Mike’s lessons, and then caddied 18 holes for Mike every afternoon, and watched him play very professional golf every day at the age of 72, with the other three of his faithful foursome (Mr. Bob Sheehan of Rockport; also, another gentleman who was a lieutenant on the Gloucester Police Force; and another gentleman who owned a fishing trawler of the Gloucester fishing fleet! What a privilege to enjoy that august company of golfing etiquette – ! (Also recalling that they usually played Monday-Saturday, with Sundays off – !)

    So, suffice it to say, hopefully the Benjamin Tarr House will remain as an enduring landmark, since Orrin Poole’s summer camps have been for the most part replaced by modern residences, and we are forever grateful to the Poole family for their kind and patient hospitality for us “summer boarders”, recalling a common Rockport-ism, “Summah People – Summah not!’ (A-yuh!)
    Dave MacIntyre,
    Summers 1952-1963,
    Escaping the Tedium of hot Boston summers as a kid,
    To the Cool of Rockport

    • David H. MacIntyre says:

      Hello again, Vintage Rockport – !
      Thank you for allowing me to add my reminiscence above of 1950’s summers at 21 South Street, adjacent to the Benjamin Tarr House! Asking a favor of you, if you would please edit my first sentence by adding and “r” to “teenage” to read “teenager”: sorry about that (my Spellchecker cruised right over that omission, and I didn’t catch it. Also, happy to see major landmarks have not changed, and that Hurricane Sandy did little damage on Cape Ann! [We were there for the series of hurricanes in the late 50’s and early 60’s that brought the tell-tale precursors of the approaching hurricane, with long rollers (swells) that produced amazing, smashing surf, sometimes depleting beaches of sand, but leaving all manner of keepsakes: lobster buoys, driftwood, etc.
      Thank you again,
      David MacIntyre,

  4. abbie zuker says:

    Dear Friends-

    I am the current “owner” of the Benjamin Tarr House, however I believe “caretaker” is a more precise term. I am happy to announce the sign has been restored recently, after breaking during a strong wind storm in February 2011. The state is in process of restoring another 25 or so of the 1930’s Tricentennial markers. Thank you Massachusetts!

    My husband and I settled at the Benjamin Tarr House in March 2010 and our first daughter was born in December of the same year. It is an honor and a privilege to be part of its history and to raise my family in such a special place.

    We first saw the house during a long walk while visiting Rockport for the first time about 5 years ago. I remember stopping in my tracks to admire the charming home, at the time in dire disrepair, and its stunning red Japanese Maple and wisteria in full bloom. I made a wish aloud to one day live in a place as magical as Rockport and buy an old soul of a home in need of some tender loving care.

    Two years later the bank was selling the property “as-is” and it was time for us to plant our roots. We eagerly, and naively, made a modest offer. The home inspector arrived a few minutes before us, took one look at the rotting sills, leaking roof and broken windows and knew we had to be either crazy or foolish. When he saw 2 saplings step out of the car to meet him, he was prepared to take us out to lunch and advise us walk away. Then we enlightened him about our background as an architect and a developer and proceeded, albeit without caution.

    We saw the potential then and have been hard at work since to prolong the life of this historic treasure. We hope to learn more about its history. It has grown and evolved over the course of its lifetime and many of the changes are undocumented.

    We know it is currently on record as a 3 family, and has been used as apartments for perhaps 40-50 years. (we found newspapers from the 1960’s stuffed into the walls of an addition) Before that some of the house was a Tea Room. (so says a note on a breaker box and a guy walking by whose mom often dined here in the 1950’s) It was a printing press for one of the early newspapers in the late 1800’s (I don’t recall how I heard this, but there are traces of the old machinery on the original wood floor) It is a fascinating subject I hope to know more about!

    We intend to share the experience of living in a piece of history with the public. The oldest part of the house shall be participating in open house tours and available for weekly rentals as a 3 bedroom fully equipped vacation home in 2013.

    Abbie Zuker

    • coffeecup says:

      I do remember in the mid 1970’s the local Rockport Paper, ? Rockport Eagle was published in the building. The local Rockport Library has copies of the paper in their first floor Rockport Room.

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