The area of Nantasket Beach in Hull was in the late 19th century, a hotbed of taverns, thievery, and brothels. To counter this, the Metropolitan Park Commission of Greater Boston acquired about 25 acres at Nantasket, which included roughly one mile of shoreline extending north from Atlantic Hill in 1900. The initial appropriations provided for only minimal facilities, such as a bathhouse and a few incidental buildings, one of which was a waiting room for those arriving or departing from the new railroad station (since demolished) at the beach. The MPC hired the Olmsted Brothers landscape architects to design the paths and landscaping for the new park, and they worked with architects Stickney & Austin who designed many of the early buildings. Stickney & Austin designed this stucco-clad building with clock tower to provide shelter from the elements and summer sun for visitors of the reservation. The building is a blending of the Arts and Crafts and Spanish Revival styles, both common at the beginning of the 20th century. The building now houses the Paragon Park Museum, after they relocated the Paragon Park Carousel next door to this building.
The Paragon Park Carousel at Nantasket Beach in Hull, was built in 1928 for the Paragon Park Amusement Park (last featured), and is possibly the oldest remaining feature of the old park. When the park was created, many wealthy summer residents clutched their pearls as their quiet, peaceful summers would soon be overrun by those looking for rides and pleasure. From its inception in 1905, Paragon Park placed a carousel at the hub of its amusement attractions, just south of the main entrance gate. While this was just the first of several carousels to be installed in the park, its inclusion in the earliest iteration of Paragon Park shows the importance of the form as an attraction. The current carousel was built in 1928 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company for Paragon Park, the carousel featured two chariots pulled by two horses each and had four rows of horses (66 in all). One of only 18 four-row carousels ever produced by Philadelphia Toboggan Company it is some forty feet in diameter. Housed in a specially built twelve-sided stucco structure to protect the delicate motor and paint in poor weather. When Paragon Park was sold to developers in 1986, parts of the carousel ride were auctioned off, but most were purchased by a locally organized preservation committee. That same year, it was moved a short distance to its present location to save it from the wrecking ball. It is now operated by the Friends of the Paragon Carousel.
The Nantasket area of Hull on Boston’s south shore had been a popular summer destination since the middle of the 19th century, when resort hotels were developed there to take advantage of the ocean breezes and sweeping vistas. Paragon Park, an amusement park developed at the turn of the century was a great addition to provide activities for the summer visitors and resident alike. Convenient transportation in the form of steamship service and an electric railroad from Boston added to the appeal of the area. The park developed rapidly over the early 20th century and featured rides, activities and shows. The park was thought to be a mini World’s Fair, featuring a lagoon at the center with small boats to ride, and new expositions and features added every summer. The park struggled in the second half of the 20th century as the land value was more expensive and the park was only open a couple months a year. It sold in 1984 to developers who sold off many features and demolished almost all of the structures. The Giant Coaster, built in 1917 was one time, the largest roller coaster in New England. When the park was purchased, the roller coaster was sold to Six Flags America near Washington D.C. and is now The Wild One.
This gambreled Georgian cape house was built around 1744 and first occupied as a tavern. Local tradition holds that in this house, the town officials held meetings and managed governmental duties. After the Revolution, a new town hall was built and the tavern reverted back to its former use. It was occupied by Samuel and Olive Lovell until Olive’s death in the 1840s, she possibly ran the tavern alone for the thirty years she outlived her husband. The home is an excellent example of a pre-Revolutionary Georgian home, with a cedar shingle roof to top it all off!
Before the Kennedy compound on Cape Cod where the political Kennedy Family summered, there was this house in Hull, now known as the ‘Honey Fitz’ summer house; named after John F. Kennedy’s maternal grandfather, John F. Fitzgerald, who owned the property. Fitz, the former mayor of Boston, would holiday at this home in the summer months with his wife Mary and six children Frederick, John Jr, Eunice, Thomas, Mary and Rose, who would go on to marry Joseph Kennedy and raise the political dynasty; The Kennedys. After Rose’s marriage to Joe Kennedy, she would return to the home with her children in the summer months, including the future president John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Rose Kennedy’s family often rented a smaller cottage on the peninsula for their family, but would always visit the big house for family dinners. Joseph Kennedy, who soon ended up being extremely wealthy, later bought a summer house in Hyannis, and the rest is history. This early Tudor mansion, with its stately proportions, stands out amongst the shingled cottages in Hull, fitting for the Kennedy dynasty.
The Point Allerton Life Saving Station is situated in its original location on Stony Beach at the entrance to Boston Harbor and at the foot of Telegraph Hill in Hull, Massachusetts. The United States government decided to establish a Life Saving Service station at Point Allerton in Hull, after Joshua James and his crew rescued 29 sailors from four vessels wrecked in the shipping entrance to Boston Harbor during the great storm of November, 1888. By that time, he was already a life-saver with the Massachusetts Humane Society (nothing animal related), which was originally founded in 1786 to save lives of those on shipwrecks on the coast. Between 1890 and his death in 1902, Capt. James and his crews rescued people from eighty-six shipwrecks which occurred within the jurisdiction of the Point Allerton Station. There were 556 persons on board these vessels. Only 16 of these lost their lives. Later, the US Lifesaving Service and the Revenue Cutter Service, were merged to form the US Coast Guard, and Joshua James is today considered a “father” of the US Coast Guard. The station was occupied until the 1960s, when a new station was constructed. The future of the building was uncertain until the Hull Lifesaving Museum was established in 1978 and restored the building.
One of the most stunning Georgian cape homes I have seen is this charming house in Hull, Massachusetts. Built in the mid-18th century, this house was acquired by Gideon Tirrell after the Revolutionary War. Gideon married Mary Loring, a descendant of John Loring, who built the home in my last post. The family appears to have occupied the home until the Cobb family acquired the house in about 1860, when Capt. Joseph Cobb and his wife, Eliza Turner settled here. He was the third “Keeper of the Lifeboat” from 1858-1876. In his role, he rowed out to sinking ships in the Boston Harbor and attempted to save any sailors still alive, often saving dozens of lives. The home was restored in the 1980s and remains one of the best-preserved in the town!
“We must not be Irish or African, or black or white. Not in America. We are gathering here … not to build up any petty community but to make the greatest nation and the strongest brotherhood that God ever smiled upon.”-John Boyle O’Reilly. This home (now the Hull Public Library) replaced the old Hunt House, which was the first parsonage of Hull, which was built around 1750. John Boyle O’Reilly, an Irish-American poet, journalist, author and activist bought the Hunt House in the 1870s and soon after demolished it as he felt it could not be salvaged. There are books about O’Reilly’s life story, so I recommend checking out his Wikipedia page. He constructed this house as a summer home by 1879, an excellent example of an early Shingle-style home. I cannot locate the architect, but am dying to learn! In the summer of 1890, O’Reilly took an early boat to his residence in Hull, Massachusetts from Boston. He had been suffering from bouts of insomnia during this time. That evening he took a long walk with his brother-in-law hoping that physical fatigue would induce the needed sleep.Later on that night he took some of his wife’s sleeping medicine and he apparently suffered an overdose of the medicine at this home, passing away at 46. Thousands of Bostonians mourned O’Reilly, and memorials were erected in the city, including the iconic 1896 John Boyle O’Reilly Memorial by Daniel Chester French.
In the Spring of 1880, thirteen Hull, Massachusetts, summer residents, who owned and raced small sailboats, met and decided to form a yacht club. The Hull Yacht Club was founded that same year. During the first two seasons there was no club house, sailing events were run from a private pier and dock and meetings were held at members homes. Even though they started with no club house, being close to Boston with plenty of deep, protected water, drew many new members. The first clubhouse here was constructed in 1882 and the club saw membership soar to over 500. The clubhouse was quickly deemed inadequate for the Boston-area elite and their massive sloops. The second Hull Yacht Club was completed in May 1891. The New York Times and Outing Magazine described the new club as one of the grandest yacht clubs in America, and at the time, it had the second highest membership in the country! The main club house was designed by architect S. Edwin Tobey, and stood four stories, with a 12 foot wide piazza on three sides covered by endless expanses of shingles. The third floor had billiard rooms and public and private dinning, committee room, reading room, wine room, The second floor housed three bowling alleys, and the first floor had lockers, showers, laundry, spar storage. The club merged a couple times over the subsequent decades, but suffered heavily due to the Great Depression, when the Gilded Age monies stopped flowing as freely. The club sold the massive shingled building to developers who sought to convert the building into a resort, but it was deemed a fire hazard and razed in the 1930s. The club erected a new, modest clubhouse near Point Allerton later.
Located on Hull Hill, a residential development near the old Fort Revere and Hull Village, this unique Swiss Chalet style home stands out for its architecture, and color! The home was built in the 1880s, likely for a G. N. Faught. This section of town was originally held by a few small farms, but that shifted to become a development of spacious summer homes after the introduction of water service to this area. The neighborhood’s development was also spurred by the construction of the Hull Yacht Club in 1882, which was at the time, was apparently the second largest of such clubs in the country. This interesting home features intricate turned posts, balustrade with delicate cut-outs, and deep overhanging eaves with exposed rafters adding to its ‘chalet’ charm.