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History of the Hagerty Property

David Wadsworth and Mary Hagerty

From an article in the Cohasset Mariner, October 7, 1993. Information on the history of the property provided by David Wadsworth and Mary Hagerty. Reprinted by permission of the Cohasset Mariner.

1876 Mrs. Parker owned most of the property down to the water (probably part of Bailey's farm).

1903 A sizable development of houses along Parker Avenue is shown in Richard's Atlas of "Plymouth County with the Town of Cohasset."

1910 A harbor committee proposed that the town take over all of the land surrounding the harbor and make it into a public park However, they couldn't obtain the carriage factory that stood where Kimball's Motel [Cohasset Harbor Inn] is now located, and the town turned down the proposal.

1912 A map from the Maritime Museum shows that the strip of meadow along the waterfront was purchased by the town as a landing site. This property was leased to and eventually owned by John Eltman.

John Eltman worked his way from Europe to Boston and eventually to Cohasset, where he set up a boat?manufacturing company (constructing lobster and "luxury boats") in the early 1920s and 1930s. Eltman learned of old merchants' homes being torn down in the Boston Harbor area (along where Rowe's Wharf now stands) and had some of the nicer ones moved before any damage was done to them. These houses were unloaded by ship at Parker Avenue, the major access to town by way of water. The Cohasset Colonials [showroom and office] is one such building [now the Cohasset Center for Student Coastal Research].

Francis Hagerty summered in Egypt, Massachusetts, and worked for John Eltman in his Cohasset boatyard, at 38 Parker Avenue. Hagerty bought an old shell?manufacturing company in 1938 and operated [it] with Eltman on the waterfront property before World War 11 . . . John Eltman died in 1942 . . . and Hagerty took over the company.

Hagerty was a naval architect, and throughout the war he manufactured radomes for PT boats. Francis and Mary Hagerty were married in 1945 . . . Following the war, Mr. Hagerty designed a $35 kit for "sea shells," which were small sailboats similar in style to rookies. Because this was only a seasonal operation and the Hagertys had moved into a new house by now (where furniture was desperately needed), Mary Hagerty suggested that they construct furniture in the large buildings along the waterfront.

The Hagertys went to the Museum of Fine Arts to get permission to reproduce their furniture . . . When their models were approved, they began to produce Cohasset Colonials Home Assembly kits. The building boom that followed the war found a great demand for furniture, and the Hagertys' business flourished. For five or six years the company [employed] forty to fifty people to assemble the kits in the buildings on Cohasset Harbor.

However, after ten years only three laborers were needed for this operation. When Mrs. Hagerty's son left the business, she sold the company [in the early 1990s]. [The business left Cohasset because the new owner] recognized that such a large workspace was unnecessary for the manufacturing of this furniture, and that [the saltwater environment was unsuitable] for wood . . . Mary Hagerty agreed to sell the property to the town because she felt the old buildings [were] too large for much other than boat construction and that [there was a need to expand public access to the harbor.]

[According to] David Wadsworth, the old clapboard boathouse on this property [originally located on Government Island and used to launch lifeboats] is believed to be an old U.S. Lighthouse Service building. [The building is now the Cohasset Maritime Institute's boathouse, and the Hagerty Property is now Mariners Park.