Ebenezer Pool House // c.1800

Ebenezer Pool (1764-1842) was born in Sandy Bay, a village of Gloucester which later became Rockport. Ebenezer was a direct descendant of John Pool, the second settler of the area, who helped facilitate its beginnings from rocky coastline to vibrant town. Ebenezer was active in the establishment of the Baptist community in Sandy Bay, and his name heads the list of eighteen charter members who were organized into a Baptist Church in 1808 inside his own home, seen here. The Federal style home sits on a prominent lot in the village near Bearskin Neck and looks much like when it was built over 200 years ago.

Captain John Gott House // 1806

One of the best-preserved homes I have seen in Rockport is the John Gott House, an 1806 Federal style property just blocks from Rockport Harbor. The home could be from the 1700s, as the central chimney normally is a feature of earlier homes, but the marker on the house states the 1806 date, so we will go with that! John Gott is a popular name in Rockport, but this home appears to have been built for Captain John Gott (1780-1845), a sea captain who was the son of (you guessed it) John Gott, who lived just down the street. This property retains its historic barn and an absolutely charming out-building which I cannot figure out what it was used for.

Joshua Norwood Cabin // c.1680

This old, leaning home sits just outside downtown Rockport and is said to be the oldest house in Rockport. The plaque on the house says it was built in 1680 by Joshua Norwood, the son of Caleb. Joshua Norwood (1682-1775) was born in Gloucester nearly 100 years before the United States was a country, but the plaque on the house means the home was built two years before Joshua was born. I would estimate the home was built in the early-mid 1700s. Joshua married Elizabeth Andrews and they had 16 children. The family apparently resided in the northern part of modern-day Rockport, in this small home for some years until it was moved by wooden barge to the current site, when Sandy Bay (downtown Rockport) saw a huge population surge with the harbor in the early 19th century. The tiny half-cape home was added onto once with the entry room at the front, but besides that, it looks much like it would have hundreds of years ago. There are a lot of mysteries about this home, so if anyone knows more, please share!

Rev. David Jewett House // 1806

About the time that the First Congregational Church (featured previously) in Rockport, Mass. was built, the congregation began construction on a home for their pastor, David Jewett. The home was built in 1806 and sits right next to the old church. David Jewett (1773-1841) was born in Hollis, NH., and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1801. He was ordained pastor at the Congregational Church of Rockport on October 30, 1805, a position he held for more than 30 years The Federal style home features a central doorway with a fanlight above and it is flanked by pilasters topped with an entablature.

John D. Sanborn Mansion // c.1865

One of my absolute favorite homes in Rockport (there are many) is this mansion, which sits away from busy Bearskin Neck and the hustle-and-bustle of the village. The John Dearborn Sanborn Mansion was built around 1865 and is an elegant example of the Second Empire style of architecture in Rockport. John Sanborn was born in Hampton, NH, and eventually moved to present-day Rockport, marrying Laura Tarr of a prominent local family. Sanborn appears to have been a merchant and ship-owner. It appears that Sanborn was involved with the California Gold Rush, and is thought to have been one of the first men to send gold via the Pony Express, a mail service delivering messages, newspapers, and mail using relays of horse-mounted riders that operated from 1860 to 1861. It is possible that his investments with gold allowed Sanborn to build this stunning estate in Rockport, set behind an iron gate and perched upon a hill. I like to think that his wife Laura would sit in the tower and look towards the sea from the windows.

First Congregational Church of Rockport // 1805

Fondly referred to as the “Old Sloop” in town (a name conferred by local fishermen in the 1800s), the First Congregational Church of Rockport stands as one of the most prominent landmarks in the old village. The village of Sandy Bay (now downtown Rockport) had a growing population since the 1700s. Prior to 1755, churchgoers from Sandy Bay made the journey every Sunday by horse or foot in good weather to the parish in Annisquam or the First Parish in Gloucester, and in poor weather, met in a small log schoolhouse on this site. Eventually, a church building was erected in town, which was used until after the Revolutionary War. In 1805, a new meetinghouse was built where it stands today. In 1814, the British invaded Sandy Bay colony and residents rang the Old Sloop’s bell to sound the alarm. British forces fired a cannon at the bell to silence it, but hit the steeple instead. A replica cannonball can be seen to this day in the steeple as a nod to that historic event. In 1840, the people of Sandy Bay voted to establish the Town of Rockport. At that time, the meetinghouse was completely redecorated and the steeple enlarged. After the Civil War, the church was outgrown, and in 1872, the Old Sloop building was cut in half and separated by about twenty feet with an addition built in the middle. At that time the steeple was enlarged and strengthened to accommodate a new and heavier bell and the Town Clock. In 2015, the church began a campaign to replace the deteriorated steeple, which was rebuilt, faux cannonball and all!

Rockport Sail Loft // c.1840

Bearskin Neck in Rockport, Massachusetts is such a magical place, and a place I visit at least once a year. The narrow peninsula is lined by modest wooden buildings that were built when the village was a thriving fishing village. Fast forward to the mid-20th century, the neighborhood became an established artist colony, with many of these buildings converted to studios, shops, or restaurants. This charming old building was constructed by 1845 as a sail loft, where workers would lay out cloth and make sails for ships. The building was known to have been used as a sail loft up to about 1942. Like everything else on the Neck, the building has been faithfully restored and converted to commercial use by small business artisans, including Bearskin Neck Leathers. This is why historic preservation is so important. These buildings connect us to the past, but can be adaptively reused into modern uses.

William Jelly House // 1905

Ernest Machado, the Cuban-American architect mentioned in the last post is credited with designing this massive Colonial Revival mansion on Beckford Street in Salem. The house was constructed in 1905 for William Jelly, a teller at the Salem Five Cent Savings Bank. William’s family-owned property on the street before he acquired the property, seemingly from his father. Ernest Machado was a locally significant architect who designed stately city mansions and enchanting country estates for some of Boston’s wealthiest families in the late 19th- and early 20th centuries. This home is setback off the street and faces the side, a common practice for larger homes in narrow urban lots. The house has a five bay symmetrical facade facing south, with clapboard sheathing, rusticated quoins, and a modillion cornice. It is topped by a gambrel roof, which has two large interior brick chimneys at the ridge. A Chippendale patterned balustrade stretches between three pedimented dormers which rise above the roof on main facade. Who else loves Colonial Revival houses?!

“Long Hill” // 1923

Built in 1923 as a summer home for Ellery Sedgwick and his family, “Long Hill” was designed in the Georgian Revival style by the architectural firm of Richardson, Barott and Richardson, in the northern part of Beverly, Massachusetts. Some of you may remember a post I did a while back on Theodore Sedgwick and his house in Stockbridge, Mass, where he lived while he won the case Brom and Bett vs. Ashley (1781), an early “freedom suit“, for two escaped slaves in Western Massachusetts, a case that assisted in the abolishment of slavery in the state two years later. Ellery Sedgwick, a descendant of Theodore, was editor of the Atlantic Monthly from 1908-1938, turning circulation from less than 10,000 in 1908 when he purchased the magazine to readership of more than 125,000 decades later. The success was largely due to his inclusion of works by many young authors that other publications overlooked, including: Ernest Hemingway and James Hilton. The magazine, now known as The Atlantic is now one of the leading publications in the nation. Sedgwick summered here with his first wife, Mabel Cabot Sedgwick, an accomplished horticulturist, gardener, and author of The Garden Month by Month, and his second wife, Marjorie Russell Sedgwick, a rare plants specialist—both of whom created a delightful, enchanting landscape, surrounded by more than 100 acres of woodland. In 1979, Sedgwick’s children gifted the family summer estate to The Trustees of Reservations, who maintain the immaculate property and landscape to this day.

John Chipman House // c.1715

There is just something about old Georgian homes built before the Revolution that always make me so happy… This home in Beverly is one of them! The home was built around 1715 for Reverend John Chipman (1691-1775), the first pastor of the Second Church of Beverly. Historians note that Rev. Chipman actually purchased the land complete with a dwelling in 1715 which dates to before 1695, and was probably built by Exercise Conant, son of early Cape Ann settler Roger Conant. According to the interior framing, the rear two-story ell was the original house, which was added onto with a five-bay Georgian house by Chipman, to showcase his stature in his new parish. The house has a gorgeous central doorway with fluted pilasters and a broken-arch pediment with pineapple finial in the center. Fun fact: The pineapple in the Georgian-era was a symbol of wealth and prestige. By the Georgian era, the first pineapples were being cultivated in Britain. The efforts it took to produce meant that by the time a fruit bloomed, it was valued at roughly £5,000 today. Concerned that eating such high-value fruit was a waste, owners opted to display pineapples as dinnertime ornaments, passing them from party to party until they rotted. The home in Beverly is commonly known as the Exercise Conant House, but is best represented as Reverend Chipman’s home.