Old Mill Pond, Rockport, Mass., c. 1912

Old Mill Pond, Rockport, Mass.

This image of Mill Pond looks from the pond’s east side across to the west side and to houses on King Street. The dam is to the right. All of the houses you see here are still standing. The house in the background with the cupola on the roof is today the Linden Tree Inn.

2016-01-02 12.53.31

The same scene today. The mansard roof house now has a deck and a small white cottage now obscures the view of the house next to it.

Mill Pond was built in 1702 by John Pool, the second settler of Sandy Bay. In 1701, he acquired the rights to build a grist mill here. To power the mill, he constructed a dam across the stream, which was then called Davison’s Run and is now called Mill Brook. Most accounts say he also built a saw mill there, from which he supplied lumber used to build Long Wharf in Boston in 1710.

As I’ve noted here before, it is hard to imagine today that peaceful, bucolic Millbrook Meadow was long a center of industry in Rockport. In 1871, a large, steam-powered factory was built here. Originally it housed the American Hide Seat Company. In 1874, the factory was transferred to William N. Manning and became the Manning Organ Company, a manufacturer of “parlor cabinet, church cabinet, and parlor orchestral organs.” The organ company closed in 1876 and the factory went on to be occupied by a series of other businesses, including a glue company and the isinglass company owned by L.M. Haskins. The factory remained there until July 1, 1932, when it was destroyed by fire.

Mill-Pond-1892

In this 1892 picture, the mansard-roofed house is to the left, an ice house is just to the right of center, and the factory can be seen behind the mansard.

From at least 1850 until as late as 1920, the pond was also used to harvest ice. For many years, two ice houses stood on opposite sides of the pond. In fact, one would have been at almost the exact spot from which the postcard picture was taken (on the east side of the pond, near Mill Lane).

The Rockport Millbrook Meadow Conservancy has a brief history of the pond and meadow. This 2010 civil engineering report provides a detailed history of the Millbrook Meadow area, including the pond and the various buildings constructed here over the years.

The postcard was mailed in 1913. It has no other information identifying its date or publisher.

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3 Responses to Old Mill Pond, Rockport, Mass., c. 1912

  1. Anna says:

    Appears to be a nice scenic B&B. Lots of Steps to Climb…..Maybe there is a more accessible entrance for a physically challenged Fun Loving Party Girl!

  2. Joanne says:

    Thank you for the information. Rockport will always mean “home” to me.

  3. If you love this beautiful old Mill Pond, help us save it for future generations! Now it is filled with sediment, so the cattails will fill it in and soon it will become just a soggy wetland. It needs dredging. We need your support! Come to our “Dredge the Pond” meeting at Rockport Public Library, Wed., Jan. 13, 2016 at 7 p.m. for a discussion on plans for dredging with DPW Director Joe Parisi and Millbrook Meadow Committee.

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