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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Come See Vintage Rockport Tuesday at Rockport Public Library

Vintage postcards poster rev.1 8-9-16

Join us this Tuesday evening, Aug. 9, for a slideshow presentation of postcards from this blog and from my collection. The presentation will be at 7:30 p.m. at the Rockport Public Library on Broadway. The event is sponsored by the Sandy Bay Historical Society.

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A Foggy Day At Loblolly, Rockport, Mass., c. 1920


Thacher Island and its Twin Lights are dimly visible through the fog in this postcard. The view over Loblolly Cove is from somewhere above Eden Road near where it intersects with Penzance Road.

On several older maps of the area, Loblolly Cove was called Lamorna Cove and Eden Road was called Tintagel Road.

The postcard is from the Rockport Photo Bureau. It was never used or postmarked. By comparing the printing on the reverse to other postcards from the Rockport Photo Bureau, I estimate it to have been published around 1920.

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Sunset, Rockport, Mass. circa 1904

Here is a classic view of the sun setting over Rockport harbor, as seen from the Headlands. This postcard was postmarked on Aug. 19, 1912, but the picture has to be earlier than that because of what it shows.

Note the smokestack in the center left of the picture. That is from the old Annisquam Cotton Mill, which once filled the area along Broadway between School Street and Main Street. It was destroyed by fire in 1882, but the ruins remained there for another 22 years, until they were finally removed in 1904.

Given that the smokestack was removed in 1904, the picture is from then or earlier.

See also:

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Dock Square, Rockport, Mass., c. 1928


A shoe repair sign is prominent on the right side of this circa 1928 view of Dock Square in Rockport. It is difficult to make out here, but on the road out to Bearskin Neck, near the center of the image, is a banner strung between two light poles displaying the word “Lobsters.”

There is a pole with a sign in the center of the square where today there is an island. In this view from just a couple years later, that pole appears to be gone. In this much earlier view, there was a large tree at that point, just as there is today.

Compare this picture to these two other postcards showing Dock Square:

This postcard was published by the Rockport Photo Bureau. It is not dated. Judging by the appearance of the reverse side and by the cars visible in the picture, I estimate it to be from around 1928.

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Cape Hedge Inn and Pebble Stone Beach, Rockport, Mass. c. 1939


On the site where formerly stood this inn, the town of Rockport is now building a park. This should be welcome news to Rockporters and visitors alike, because the views from here are spectacular.

The building was originally constructed around the turn of the century as a private mansion. For many years, it operated as the Cape Hedge Inn. It later became The Beaches inn and then The Sandpiper. It was still operating as The Sandpiper when it burned down in the late 1970s. (A recent Gloucester Daily Times article said it burned down in 1978 but a 1984 court decision involving the property said it was 1976 or 1977.)

Over the years, various attempts were made to rebuild on the property. In 1978, The Sandpiper’s owner, John Krenn, obtained a zoning variance to construct a two-story, 2o-room inn, but the variance lapsed when construction did not begin. In the 1980s, a subsequent owner was granted a variance to build a four-unit condominium on the site. A court later revoked the variance, ruling that the town should not have granted it.

For other postcards of this inn, see:

This postcard was published by the Rockport Photo Bureau. There is no date on the reverse side. Based on the similarity of the printing on the reverse side to other cards I have, and judging by what can be seen of the cars in the picture, I estimate this to be around 1939.

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Marmion Way, Rockport, Mass., c. 1911

Note the misspelling of Marmion Way as Marmian Way in this postcard’s caption. Even so, this is a wonderful old view, made better by the three children posing in the middle of the road.

All of the houses you see here are still standing today, as is the stone wall on the left. At the end of that wall, just about where the children are standing, is the entrance today to the Old Garden Path. I have another postcard that shows two of the same houses pictured above, but from the vantage point of the Old Garden Path.

The same view today.

The same view today.

I have another postcard from around the same time showing the view looking in the opposite direction, taken just on the other side of the house on the left above. You can see the same house in that other postcard.

The house on the left was known in the 1960s and 1970s as the Hammock House. Its owner, Paul Dow, began making hammocks in his retirement for family and friends. As demand grew for his hammocks, he started selling them from his home.

This postcard does not identify a publisher. It was postmarked in 1911.

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