Two Views of the Headland House, Rockport, circa 1912

These views may be black and white, but this house at 10 Atlantic Ave. in Rockport has a colorful history.

As of the time of these two postcards, the Headland House was a hotel. You can see the sign hanging in front that says its name. Thanks to the classified ad to the right, we know that as of 1915, it was operated by Mrs. Henry F. Bartles. In 1913, the Headland House was listed as for sale. I do not know if that is when the Bartles bought it. The for-sale ad described it as having been a hotel for 10 years.

Mr. and Mrs. Bartles lived in the Headland House as well. Mr. Bartles was a fisherman who, as of around 1900, owned a 44-foot sloop named the Golden Eagle, which was built in 1890.

But the story of this house starts with pirates’ gold. The tale is well known around Rockport of 13-year-old Caleb Norwood’s discovery of buried pirates’ treasure at Gully Cove in 1752. Thanks to the treasure, the story goes, Caleb grew up to be a wealthy man. He and the Norwood family built several houses in the area that now extends out to the Headlands. The Inn on Cove Hill is one and the Headland House — built in 1781 — is another.

Melinna and Harrison Cady in Venice in 1931.

The house’s history took another notable turn in 1920. That year, famed artist and illustrator Harrison Cady bought it as his summer home. I previously published a postcard showing Cady’s unique round studio on Atlantic Ave. Today, that studio is attached to a house, but when Cady occupied it, it was just the studio. Cady and his wife Melinna lived in the Headland House. According to several news reports, Cady — who had a robust sense of humor — liked to brag about the fact that his home had been built with pirates’ gold.

For at least part of the time that the Cadys owned it, the Headland House continued to operate as a hotel. A 1942 business directory listed it as a hotel, naming Melinna Cady as the proprietor.

Mrs. Cady died in 1956, at age 71. Harrison Cady died in 1970. After Cady died, Thomas Grossman, a local real estate developer, purchased the Headland House and converted it into four condominiums. As you can see from the ad pictured here, the units were offered for sale at a starting price of $39,500.

As a footnote, the Cadys, when they were not in Rockport, lived in Manhattan at 27 West 67th St., on Central Park West. This was a studio building that housed many artists. The building was developed by famed impressionist artist Childe Hassam, who, as it turns out, was himself a frequent visitor to and painter of Rockport and Gloucester.

With regard to these two postcards, the top one is a real-photo postcard, meaning it was not mass produced, but created from an actual photograph. The second postcard was published by J. Sidney Poole, a Rockport pharmacist who operated out of the building at the corner of Main and Beach streets. It is interesting that the two images share virtually the identical angle, although they were clearly taken in different seasons of the year.

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2 Responses to Two Views of the Headland House, Rockport, circa 1912

  1. Pingback: People in Old First Parish Cemetary, 1898 | Vintage Rockport

  2. Pingback: The Old Log Cabin, at the Foot of Cove Hill, Oldest House in Rockport, Mass. | Vintage Rockport

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