A part of any large public beach in Massachusetts is the public bathhouse, where visitors can go to the bathroom, change, and store belongings in lockers. Ever since the Massachusetts Parks System of Boston acquired land at Nantasket Beach, a bathhouse was here for visitors. The earlier building by Stickney & Austin burned down and was soon replaced. This amazing Art Moderne bathhouse features a central mass with wings adorned by glass block. The architects Putnam & Cox created a whimsical 1935 Moderne design that blends into the sandy beach. The building suffered from the salt air and cold winters and went through a massive restoration in the late 1990s, it was then re-opened and re-named after Mary Jeanette Murray, a state representative.
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.
In the early 20th-century, Hull was linked by ferry, railway and road to Boston and this resort town became a popular urban recreational destination. Between 1915 and 1920, Jewish Bostonians started buying property and building summer homes in the area. The new Jewish summer residents required a temple for worship when away from their main homes. In 1920, land was purchased just north of the bustling Nantasket Beach for the erection of a place of worship. This temple was likely built by a Jewish architect/builder Joseph Rudnick, who arrived in Boston from present-day Lithuania in 1886. Unable to speak English, he hired a tutor to teach it to him, and quickly began working on constructing apartments and other buildings all over the Boston area. Temple Israel of Nantasket remains a handsome and rare example of a 1920 American
wood-framed, stucco-clad synagogue, with an active congregation.
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.