Benjamin E. Waters (1863-1962) was a local businessman and real estate developer in Marion by the end of the 19th century. He acquired a large property not far from the beach, in the middle of a high-class residential enclave and developed the property, running a small dirt path through the middle, known today as Pie Alley. He built three large Shingle style homes and appears to have rented them out to wealthy residents. The homes are all situated very well on their lots among large lawns framed by stone walls, just a short walk from the beach.
One of the most interesting houses in Marion, Massachusetts, is the Frederick Cutler Cottage, at the corner of Water and Lewis streets. The home was built in the 1890s for Frederick B. Cutler, partner in the firm of Stetson, Cutler & Company in Boston, a building materials company who sold everything from long lumber and shingles to lime. The Shingle style mansion was occupied by the Cutler Family between their time in Brookline and Marion for summers until the 1920s. In 1972, the owner separated the structure into two parts that now sit on adjacent lots as 4 and 8 Water Street.
The Sippican Tennis Club in Marion, Massachusetts, was established in 1908 for the purpose of athletic exercise and a place for social gatherings in town. Historically, the town’s population surged in the summer months when wealthy city residents would flock here and stay in their waterfront mansions for a few months a year. The large hipped roof rectangular building was constructed just before the club opened in 1908, and it is flanked by eight tennis courts. Charles Allerton Coolidge, a principal in the well known firm, Shepley Rutan and Coolidge, was one of the original shareholders as well as the architect for the building. He also was a summer resident himself (his home was previously featured). The building is constructed of concrete and features paired, tapered columns which run the perimeter of the structure, supporting a deep porch. The broad elliptical arch and exposed rafters add to the Craftsman style flair of the building.
After Charles Allerton Coolidge built his summer home in Marion, on an undeveloped peninsula, investors saw the potential for the waterfront sites nearby, plus they had a local renowned architect who could be hired to furnish designs of new homes. Boston physician Albert Edgar Angier worked with Charles A. Coolidge on his proposed summer house by the turn of the 20th century. The house is in a V-shape and exhibits late 19th century architectural elements of the Shingle style with a large polygonal section to provide sweeping views of the harbor.
Bird Island sits about seven football fields away from the tip of the Butler Point peninsula, which juts out into Buzzards Bay in Marion. A small sitting area at the Kittansett Club provides a bench and amazing views of the open water and historic lighthouse in the distance. Immediately after the War of 1812, Marion became a hub of whaling and shipping with many sea captains building homes in town. As a result, Congress appropriated $11,500 for the purchase of Bird Island and the erection and stationing of a lighthouse. A 25-foot-tall conical rubblestone tower was constructed, surmounted by a 12-foot tall iron lantern. The accompanying stone dwelling was 20 by 34 feet, and a covered walkway connected the house and tower. William S. Moore, a veteran of the War of 1812, was appointed as the first keeper, which went into operation in 1819. There are legends about murder and hauntings on the island.
Moore’s wife, suffering from tuberculosis, would frequently get into liquor and cigarettes, and would become raucous when she did. When the villagers of Sippican would visit the island, many times they would bring her tobacco to the dismay of Keeper Moore. The legend claims that one morning, after returning from a shed on the island, he found his wife drunk and dancing through the snow. Reports are that he returned to the keeper’s dwelling, retrieved his rifle, and shot her. She is reported to be buried on the island, but there is no sign of a grave. Keeper Moore insisted that she had “succumbed from nicotine” when the townsfolk had asked what had happened. Many years later, when the keeper’s dwelling was being torn down in 1889, a rifle and a bag of tobacco were purportedly found in a secret hiding spot. With those items, was an alleged note that said the following:
“This bag contains tobacco, found among the clothes of my wife after her decease. It was furnished by certain individuals in and about Sippican. May the curses of the High Heaven rest upon the heads of those who destroyed the peace of my family and the health and happiness of a wife whom I Dearly Loved.”
The lighthouse is owned today by the Town of Marion. And the only residents are endangered roseate tern.
Before the days of cars and even trains ruled, people in New England would get around by horseback or stagecoach (horse-drawn carriages) from town to town. Due to the long travel times to get everywhere, many New Englanders built taverns, which served as inns and bars for the weary traveller on their journey. In 1812, a recently married Caleb Handy built this house to serve as a residence and source of income, as a tavern for travellers on the Plymouth-New Bedford stagecoach route. He married Sophia Dexter in 1811, who died just two years later at the age of 22. Two years after the death of his first wife, he married Sophia’s sister, Mary, who just turned 18 (he was 33). The tavern had a ballroom for local dances and a room for serving drinks, based principally on West Indian rum, that was shipped in from sugar plantations, owned by many wealthy white families in New England (many of whom exploited the slavery abroad). The Tavern was later owned by Benjamin Handy, who continued to operate it as a Tavern until the railroad made the stagecoach route obsolete in the middle of the 19th century. It then became a family home. The house was sold to the Sippican Women’s Club in 1923, who renovated and restored much of the building, and held luncheons and events inside. They maintain the building to this day.
One of the oldest homes in Sippican/Wharf Village in Marion, Mass., this beautiful Cape house with gambrel roof dates to 1784 from deed research. The house was constructed by two owners, Barnabas Luce, innholder, and Stephen Cunningham, a mariner, seemingly as an inn for sailors who would dock their ships in the harbor just behind the property. It was later acquired by Edward Sherman (1790-1867), a shipwright and carpenter who built schooners at the wharfs in town. In 1868, his son Edward Franklin Sherman (1821-1907), also a ship carpenter, sold the waterfront property after his father’s death to Andrew A. Harwood, an admiral in the United States Navy, Commodore of the Washington Navy Yard, and through his mother, Elizabeth Franklin Bache, a great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin! The property remained in the Harwood family until, 1955, when the property was sold to the Beverly Yacht Club. The yacht club was originally named after the town of Beverly, north of Boston, when members broke from the Eastern Yacht Club of Marblehead which was more prestigious. For the first 23 years, the club had no fixed location, but eventually settled in Bourne, and merged with the local Sippican Yacht Club. The Great Hurricane of 1938 destroyed their clubhouse and they were “homeless” for years until moving into this 1784 home, later expanding it to meet growing needs.
Built around 1830, this little cottage is set behind a front lawn and is among the many photogenic buildings along Marion’s Main Street. Originally located behind the Marion Congregational Church, this structure was moved to its current site between 1855 and 1879, and run as a post office for the village. During the mid-19th century, the job of post-master was a political appointment. For a time Captain Nathan Briggs, a retired sea captain and Democratic party appointee, operated a post office in this structure, competing with Republican Dr. Walton N. Ellis who was in charge of a rival Post Office nearby. He ran the post office until he was struck by lightning in the doorway of his home. Who knew that everything was as political then as they are now? Things do not change!
Main Street in Marion, Massachusetts is a house lover’s dream. The street is lined with perfect 18th century capes and old whaling captains houses. This little cape house was built in 1790 for a J. Blankinship, one of the prominent local whaling families in town. By the early 1900s, Henry M. Prichard, an accountant, lived here. Born in New York City, Prichard and his family moved to Massachusetts. During the Civil War, he enlisted in the 25th Massachusetts Volunteer infantry and was part of the Burnside Expedition. According to his obituary,“he was wounded so seriously at the Battle of Cold Spring Harbor that he never fully recovered.” An “ardent devotee of canoeing”, Mr. Prichard retired to Marion, having spent most of his life in New York City and lived out his final days. It was likely he who added the large dormer windows as fresh air and light were seen as cures to ailments in the time. His widow, Abby and daughter, lived here until at least the mid-1920s.
Captain Elisha Luce (1786-1850) was born in Massachusetts and from a young age, loved the sea. The son of Rowland Luce, Elisha spent his childhood in the family home (featured in the last post). Captain Luce moved into half of this double-house by 1813, right after his marriage to Jane Hiller, when he was 27 and she was 19. I don’t know many 27 year olds that could afford a house like this today! Captain Elisha E. Luce’s best known ship was the Persia, which made numerous profitable trade missions and whaling excursions from her home port of New Bedford. His wife, Jane died at the young age of 29, and he quickly remarried the next year to Lucretia Clark; they had three boys. In the other half of the home, Captain Noble Everett Bates who co-owned the schooner Marmion and went on his own voyages from his wharf in town. The home was locally known as the “Two Captains House”.