Two Old-Time Cohasset Inns
Oliver H. Howe
From Oliver H. Howe, "Two Old Time inns," Cohasset Cottager,
The earliest inn, so far as known, was kept by Christopher James. His
grandfather Thomas James built the house on South Main Street, which
with numerous additions and alterations is now  known as the Hillside
Inn. Probably only a small portion of the original structure now exists.
Thomas was an important man in Cohasset, one of the founders of the
church [First Parish], and interested with Mordecai Lincoln in the project
of smelting and forging iron at Turtle Island. He probably occupied
the house as a dwelling. His son Philip (born 1708, died 1785) lived
in the house. His grandson Christopher (born 1752, married 1785, died
1810) was called a Storekeeper and Innkeeper. He enlarged the house
and kept it as an inn called the Red Lion . . .
The other early inn was the Black Rock House, named from a rocky islet
with a gunner's cabin on it, a short distance offshore. Nathaniel Nichols
(1721 1758) built it in 1757. His son, Nathaniel, like his father a
master mariner, also lived here. As captain in the navy in 1775, he,
in command of two sloops, seized the island of Nassau with nearly 100
cannon and other stores.
Probably the house was at first a dwelling and became an inn at some
later time, doubtless through the reception of occasional guests . .
. The early location of the Black Rock House was upon a ledge of rock
fronting the ocean a few rods easterly from Green Hill Beach. The building
became much enlarged, but perhaps contained within itself some of the
old structure. For some years previous to 1870 it was kept by a Mr.
Hayden, and later, until about 1882, by Moses Sargent. After that, and
until its removal in 1903, it was kept by Sarah R. Smith.
In 1903 it was bought by summer residents on the opposite side of the
street and removed to improve their ocean view. Parts of it were taken
across the beach into Hull and still stand next to Straits Pond and
across the street from Green Hill. [Sarah] Smith then built the present
Black Rock House upon a pinnacle of rocks, a few rods to the westward
of Green Hill Beach . . . She continued to run it until her death in
1914. She was a great favorite with her guests because of her genuine
kindness and solicitude for their welfare.
The most successful period of the Black Rock House was that in which
people were content to board for weeks at such a resort, and many families
returned from year to year. The bicycle and the automobile had not developed
their migrating facilities. The leisurely, intimate contact with nature
has given place to the hasty glimpses which swift travel affords.