Early Seashore Resorts of Cohasset
Oliver H. Howe
From Oliver H. Howe, "Early Sea?Shore Resorts of Cohasset,"
Cohasset Cottager, July 4, 1930.
The early colonial life of Massachusetts was chiefly concerned with
the hard necessities of subduing the forest and tilling the soil. Journeys
were difficult and undertaken only from necessity. The people had no
time and little inclination for recreation, and the quiet, moderate
life of those times developed no pressing need for it, except for such
pleasures as the people might have in their own households and with
their neighbors, together with a certain amount of gunning and fishing.
It is doubtful whether the charms of the South Shore began to attract
visitors to any appreciable extent before 1840. Aside from the Black
Rock House, there was a small group of hotels here around 1850. "Biah"
Baker had one on the little triangle now known as Wadleigh Park at the
end of Green Hill Beach. A little later he built a hotel on the beach
near the junction of Jerusalem Road and Atlantic Avenue. The locality
is still marked by his old well. Later on he built on Jerusalem Road
on what was later known as the Chappelle estate.
Another, called the Minot House, stood on the beach (on what is now
Atlantic Avenue) a little to the eastward of Baker's second hotel. The
Minot House had a barn and bowling alley. When torn down, the material
of the hotel was made into the Nobscusset House at East Dennis.
Further to the eastward and on the landward side of the road was a
long, rambling structure, with a two?story piazza, called the Franklin
House. This stood abandoned and in solitary neglect for many years until,
after being damaged by the 1898 gale, it was taken down.
Mr. and Mrs. Robert T. Beal much later kept a small boardinghouse on
the easterly side of Jerusalem Road a few rods south of its junction
with Atlantic Avenue. All these establishments were frequented principally
by gunners and sportsmen.
The large residence a short distance west of the present Black Rock
House was originally a hotel and bore successively the names Crockett
House and Rockville House.
Turning for a moment to Cohasset village, Thomas Smith kept an inn
in the house on Main Street at the southerly end of Cohasset Common,
and more recently owned by Joseph St. John. Joel Willcutt's diary contains
this record: "Mr. Smith's sign?post raised 24 June 1822."
The large house opposite, now owned by Dr. H. E. Fernald, was an inn
later on under the management of Thomas M. Smith, son of Thomas just
named. Later on (1887 to 1890) it was again a hotel kept by R. C. Davis
and called the Brunswick.
Just previous to 1850 three notable boardinghouses were started at
about the same time. Mr. and Mrs. John Hunt kept one in the house high
on the hill near the junction of Jerusalem Road and Atlantic Avenue,
for many years owned by "Judge" Kelley.
Another, the outstanding old-time resort of Cohasset, was the Pleasant
Beach House kept for many years by Peter C. Kimball and his estimable
wife. It stood high above the ledges, near what was long known as Kimball's
Point. This house had a great reputation for its fine cooking. Delicious
"schrod," lobsters, clams, and potato chips, added to the
delightful sea breezes and picturesque scenery, attracted people from
far and near. The house stood until 1881, when it was burned. After
some delay, during which the business was carried on in a small way
in two cottages, another hotel was built on the point and run for some
years mainly by the son, Henry B. Kimball, until the building was burned
in 1909, and the location finally sold for residential purposes to Col.
Henry L. Kincaide.
A third and notable boardinghouse was kept for many years on Jerusalem
Road, nearly opposite the junction with Nichols Road, by Mr. and Mrs.
Warren Bates. It had a very high grade of guests, many of whom came
from year to year.
A similar quiet and select house was kept some years later by Mrs.
Winslow in the old Lothrop House at Sandy Cove (now the home of Mr.
The success of these early establishments?the first that really attracted
persons of culture?was due largely to the wives of the proprietors.
Mrs. Peter Kimball, Mrs. Warren Bates, Mrs. John Hunt, and Mrs. Winslow
were all superior women, excellent cooks, and careful housekeepers,
women of high character and fine personality.
Much of the character of our summer residents was dependent upon the
hospitality and excellence of their houses. Many persons who came as
transient guests returned to build houses here and to become permanent
summer residents. The charm of Cohasset impresses all comers, and in
fact many native sons and daughters who went elsewhere after marriage
have returned to spend their lives here.
Cohasset has not developed large hotels, but has multiplied summer
homes. Many of our summer residents have felt a deep interest in the
welfare of the town. The hotels and boardinghouses have often been connecting
links, introducing the stranger to a quiet and pleasant life amid charming
and delightful scenery.