Surf on Beach Street Near Fo’Penny Knoll, Big Storm of March 4, 1931


As this postcard documents, a major nor’easter hit the Massachusetts and New Hampshire coasts on Wednesday, March 4, 1931, bringing snow, howling winds and the highest tide in 21 years.

The Boston Globe called it the most destructive storm since 1898, reporting that hundreds were made homeless, scores were rescued on the North and South Shores and at Hampton Beach, N.H., and nearly $1 million in damage was caused.

The Boston Globe report did not specifically mention Rockport, but it said that damage was extensive all along the North Shore, with Nahant a virtual island, Salem’s streets flooded, and surf having reached a hotel’s second floor in York Beach, Me.

A New Hampshire newspaper reported:

Never has New Hampshire’s seacoast been so devastated as by the storm and terrific tide of Wednesday morning when mountain-high surf literally lifted cottages into the air, throwing them aside like a bunch of kindling, nothing left worth salvaging.

Remarkably, just four days later, on March 8, a second nor’easter again battered New England. This second storm, the Boston Globe reported, “did little damage other than spread the debris” of the March 4 storm, but it nevertheless created such a “pounding, roaring sea” that roads were clogged with “surf-gazers” all along the North Shore.

This postcard, from Rockport Photo Bureau, shows the surf from the storm hitting against the seawall at Front Beach. It was postmarked on June 24, 1931, indicating that Charles Cleaves, the owner of Rockport Photo Bureau, wasted no time in getting this card printed and in stores.

The caption of the postcard says the picture is on Beach Street near F0’Penny Knoll. That name refers to the rocky outcropping at the north end of Front Beach where the gazebo is located.

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3 Responses to Surf on Beach Street Near Fo’Penny Knoll, Big Storm of March 4, 1931

  1. Anita says:


    I am confused as to the location. The present day gazebo us at Back Beach.

    Thank you,

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