The postcard identifies this house — which still stands at the corner of Mt. Pleasant Street and Atlantic Ave. — as the oldest house in Rockport. The plaque that is on the house now says it was built in 1680 by Joshua Norwood, father of Caleb. But based on what I read, the house is not the oldest in Rockport, was not built in 1680, and was not built by Joshua Norwood.
According to the History of the Town of Rockport, published in 1888, this house was built by Caleb Norwood, Joshua’s son, on land adjacent to Gap Cove.
“[The] house, on the corner of Mt. Pleasant St. and Atlantic Avenue, according to tradition, is the house built by Caleb and removed to its present position about eighty years ago,” the history says.
Joshua Norwood and his family moved to Gap Cove around 1740 (different sources give different dates). Joshua first moved to Pigeon Cove in 1694, so he did not even live in the area at the time the plaque says he built the house. For many years, he and his family (he and his wife had 14 children) lived in what is now known as the Witch House. It appears that the family moved out of the area for a time, to Attleboro, Mass., and settled in Gap Cove when they returned.
Caleb was born in 1736 so the house would not have been built until some years after that, presumably when he was a young man. That would mean it was built closer to 1755 or so. Based on the history’s account, it would have been moved to its present location around 1800.
Caleb is famous around Rockport as the boy who supposedly discovered pirates’ treasure at Gully Cove in 1752. (Eleanor Parson’s book, Rockport: The Making of a Tourist Treasure, says he was 13 at the time, but all records I find say he was born in 1736, which would mean he was 16 in 1752.) Thanks to the treasure, he grew up to be a wealthy man and built several houses. As I’ve previously noted, one is the Headland House on Norwood Avenue, which he build in 1781 and which later became the home of artist Harrison Cady.
This postcard was published by the Rockport Photo Bureau. I estimate the date of the postcard to be approximately 1925.
Interesting – we live around the corner on Pleasant St. (as I’ve commented before.) There is a children’s book about the so-called Witch House, fictional of course, by Ruth – can’t remember her last name, but she also wrote “The Catnip Man.” I have wondered if that is the house to which Proctor and his brother brought their mother from Salem during the trials.
Could the Ruth be RUTH HOLBERG?
The house was built in the cove and was situated in the area of Andrews point and was later moved to the location on Atlantic Ave by floating it on a wooden barge. The plaque used to say Caleb Norwood cabin, but was changed when discovered that it was actually Joshua that built it.
Thanks for this information!