, Salem, MA


June 3, 2013

McAllister: The North Shore has long been the summer destination for monied elite


Manchester by the Sea drew a crowd that was both artsy and wealthy. The author Richard Henry Dana led the migration, and he would be followed by the likes of portraitist Charles Hopkinson, publisher James T. Fields, and the actor Junius Booth. Fields, a partner in the firm that published Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and founder of the esteemed Atlantic Monthly, was the first to use the town’s current name. Booth, the brother of Abraham Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, built the Masconomo House near Singing Beach and offered seasonal theatric productions for summer visitors.

Until it burned in 1906, the 50-room Winne-Egan Hotel on Baker’s Island, just off the Manchester coast, attracted the health-conscious. No alcohol or tobacco was permitted, and guests were encouraged to partake of the many exercise options the inn offered, including golfing, sailing and swimming, as well as its cultural and religious programs.

The Magnolia section of Gloucester boasted Cape Ann’s largest hotel, the 750-plus-room Oceanside just off Hesperus Avenue. The sprawling wooden hostelry attracted the rich and the royal and, in 1928, even the Davis Cup tennis championship. Guests could pick up a souvenir of their stay at the very pricey shops on nearby Lexington Avenue.

Other important Gloucester hotels were the Pavilion at the downtown end of Pavilion Beach, and the Rockaway, Fairview and Colonial in the summer artist enclave of East Gloucester. The enormous Colonial Arms Hotel on Eastern Point, just a stone’s throw from the summer home of the noted artist Cecilia Beaux and Henry Davis Sleeper’s “Beauport,” burned to the ground just four years after its grand opening in 1904.

The artist Maurice Prendergast was a frequent visitor at his friends the Williamses in Annisquam, and the Cape Ann Museum owns a very busy watercolor showing that quiet little village in the days when it was a popular summer destination for artists, composers, and other folk looking to take in the salt air and stunning views.

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