Our recent heat wave and the arrival of June serve as dual reminders that the long-awaited summer season is upon us — and inspire this brief survey of popular North Shore summer spots in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Swampscott, while not organized as a town until 1852, would become one of the North Shore’s most popular summer destinations in the decades that followed. The community’s proximity to Boston, and its ocean views and colorful fishing community, encouraged entrepreneurs to build the Lincoln House, the Hotel Preston, the New Ocean House and other hostelries that catered to the tourist crowd. Many private homes along the town’s shoreline were built as summer residences. One, White Court (now Marian Court College) on Phillips Point, served as the summer White House for President and Mrs. Coolidge in 1925.
Serious yachtsmen gravitated to Marblehead, home of a number of prestigious yacht clubs and races. The hub of yachting activity was Marblehead Neck, which, until their eviction in the early 1870s, had been a popular summer camping spot for many folks from the Lowell area. Direct boat and train service to Marblehead from Boston helped spur the development of a summer tourist industry for the non-yachting crowd.
Salem today still has its Willows park and amusement area, but the three hotels that once dotted the adjacent Juniper Point neighborhood are long gone. The city park was established in the late 1850s, and the Juniper Point area developed as a summer camp and cottage destination in the 1870s. “The Line,” as the amusement park was known, was developed by a local street railway company looking to boost ridership. The popular park opened for business in 1880, and would draw huge crowds for decades to come.
Many of the real serious monied folk chose to summer on the Beverly coast in what came to be known the Gold Coast. Steel magnate Henry Clay Frick, William Moore of Diamond Match and Nabisco fame, and financier Otto Kahn were three of the most famous, and wealthiest, summer residents of the upscale Beverly Farms-Pride’s Crossing neighborhoods. Long before their arrival, however, wealthy Boston and Salem area families had bought up tracts of waterfront property in the area. An attempt by these earlier summer residents to secede from Beverly, in the 1880s, came very close to succeeding.