The Witch House, Pigeon Cove, Mass., c. 1915


This is a real-photo postcard of the house that still stands at 188 Granite Street in Pigeon Cove. The house — which is listed on The National Register of Historic Places — is often called the Witch House thanks to a popular story that it was built in 1692 by two brothers from Salem to protect their mother, who suspected of being a witch.

The house is also called the Garrison House and some believe it to be the earliest surviving building in Rockport. According to this story, the original part of the structure was built in 1676 as a defense garrison during King Philip’s War.

We know for certain that, starting in 1704, Joshua Norwood and his family lived here for some 30 years, until they moved to Gap Cove near Straitsmouth Point. In the mid-1800s, the house was run as a boarding house by John Wheeler. A prominent guest who often stayed there was Richard Henry Dana, the poet and lawyer and father of Richard Henry Data, the antislavery activist and author of Two Years Before the Mast.

For two years beginning in 1870, the house was occupied by Dr. Augustus M. Tupper, a popular physician in Rockport for 50 years. In 1925, the house was purchased by Oliver Williams and remains owned by the Williams family.

For more about the history of the house, see my prior posts here, here and here.

The postcard was postmarked in Rockport on Aug. 30, 1915. The sender’s note on the reverse says, “Rockport exceeds my dreams — it is wonderful.”


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5 Responses to The Witch House, Pigeon Cove, Mass., c. 1915

  1. Anna says:

    I have a question? I would like to purchase framed pictures of Rockport. I noticed postcards available VintageRockport by SmugMug. I like the many postcards yet prefer a framed picture in various sizes. Any suggestions?

  2. Julia Williams Robinson says:

    The house was sold by the Williams family in 2013.

  3. Pingback: Visiting Day at the ‘Witch House,’ Pigeon Cove, circa 1920 | Vintage Rockport

  4. LilaM says:

    In the early 1980s I purchased an antique household item at at a high end antique show in New Jersey. The seller’s documentation said that it had previously been purchased in 1966 at the auction of the Oliver Williams estate in Cape Ann, Pigeon Cove Mass. It further stated that the item was shown in Wallace Nutting’s book Furniture Treasury (1928) . Since I bought the item before the internet and was working long hours I never actually got around to verifying this info. Now with more time on my hands– and due to finding your article(s) on this house and seeing the postcard pictures of the house and the “open house day”, –and finding out that the Williams family owned the house into the 21st century I am now quite certain that the provenance story of my treasure is true. Thank you so much .

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