There are about forty-six rooms of Beauport and no two are the same. Beauport, also known as the Sleeper-McCann house, is a brilliant display of architecture and interior design. The house was built by one of America’s first interior designers, Henry David Sleeper.
Sleeper’s good friend, A. Piatt Anderw introduced Sleeper to the Eastern Point area in 1906. The area comprises the southern half of the peninsula between the eastern side of Gloucester Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. Sleeper purchased a plot of land in the area in August of 1907 right down the road from Andrew’s summer mansion, Red Roof. In the fall of that same year Sleeper began construction. By May of 1908 Sleeper was moved in, but the house was nowhere near complete. Sleeper added room after room to the house for the next twenty years. He used the home to showcase his skill in interior design and architecture. Sleeper replicated Jacobean American, Colonial American and various styles of French décor throughout the process of bringing his vision to life. Prominent clients from around the country had the option to replicate elements or entire rooms of Beauport in their own homes. He did this in an effort to preserve styles of design and orientation that may have otherwise been lost. This is partially what makes the house so unique. Each room is influenced by a different era and style of architecture with a twist that Sleeper applies in the form of masterful skill in the orientation of art and glass decoration.
Charles and Helena Woolworth McCann purchased the property after sleeper’s death in 1934. The family made a few minor changes, but kept most of the house exactly as Sleeper left it. In 1947 the heirs of Charles and Helena donated the house to the Society for the Protection of New England Antiquities, now known as Historic New England. To this day the organization operates the property as a house museum.
Visitors can go and see the mansion nearly exactly as Sleeper left it. The outside of the house is almost as impressive as the inside. The gardens, the highlight of the grounds, are complimented by a breathtaking ocean view. Currently there are three tours to choose from at Beauport. The standard tour is an hour long and it consists of 26 rooms. Though it is the shortest, it is still packed with plenty of info on the history and design of the mansion. By the end it is hard to believe that there are still twenty more rooms. The Nooks and Crannies tour undoubtedly lives up to its name. This tour consists of all 46 rooms and is about three hours long. If you are looking for a fun and informative activity that will fill up an afternoon than this is the one for you. The tour gives visitors plenty of time to explore each room and it is filled with seemingly endless info on various pieces in the house, as well as stories about Beauport’s original owners. Designing Beauport is the newest tour offered at the house and it is about two hours long. The tour takes visitors through rooms in the exact order that they were added by Sleeper. This tour focuses on the style of design, decoration and orientation that Sleeper used, as well as what events in his life inspired the home. There are no self-guided tours but the guides at Beauport are pleasant, personable and quite professional. The staff at Beauport is full of energy and enthusiasm. The amount of information they have to offer about any given element of the house is quite impressive.
Open May though October (Closed July 4th)
Tours on the hour 10am to 4pm, Last tour at 4pm
Location: 75 Eastern Point Boulevard, Gloucester, MA, 01930
Historic New England Members: Free
students and children: $8.00
Article and Photos by Joe Codrington
You don’t have to cross the Atlantic to find a fifteenth century styled castle; there’s one right here on the North Shore. Each room of the Hammond Castle Museum is like a journey through time. From the draw bridge to the laboratory, Hammond castle is an awe-inspiring piece of history.
The construction of Hammond Castle started in 1926 and was completed in 1929, though it likely does not look like any other structure built that year. It was built by an eccentric, American inventor named John Hayes Hammond Jr. Hammond was mentored at a young age by Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. He was inspired by their work and he went on to be known as the “Father of Radio Control.” Most of the remote-control technology used today, including modern missile guiding systems, can be contributed to Hammond. He has been credited for about 800 different patents on over 400 inventions. Though most of his inventions were for practical use, there were others that were invented simply for Hammond’s own personal pleasure. Hammond’s pride and joy was an oversized, experimental organ that he installed into the Great Hall of his home. Hammond was also very passionate about travel. His castle, which he had built as a gift for his wife, was inspired by his many travels through Europe. Visitors to the castle are amazed by the collection of historical pieces that he amassed along the way.
Hammond Castle did not just serve as his home. It was a place to display his great collection of Roman, Medieval and Renaissance artifacts and it was also his laboratory. From outside, the castle looks like a medieval artifact even though it is not even a hundred years old. One of the first things that visitors to the castle get to experience is the great hall. The hall, filled with suits of armor and religious relics, was used by Hammond mainly to entertain guests. From there, visitors are led into the indoor courtyard that looks like the outside of a medieval village complete with trees, a “weather control” system, and a pool. Visitors may also explore the war room, the library and Hammond’s personal laboratory. One of the best parts of Hammond Castle is the view. The castle was built on a cliff overlooking Gloucester harbor and the Atlantic coast.
Hammond was a lover of history. To him the best way to appreciate history was to feel like you are being immersed into it. He once said, “you can visit a hundred museums containing their handiwork, but nothing can reincarnate their spirit except to walk through rooms in which they have lived and through the scenes that were the background of their lives.” Come explore the background of Hammond’s life. Visit the Hammond Castle Museum for a guided or self-guided tour.
Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Located in the Magnolia area of Gloucester, the Castle is on Hesperus Ave, right off of Route 127.
Article and photos by Joe Codrington
Route 127A, Main Street to Beach Street, Downtown Rockport
Sandy Bay acts as the beautiful backdrop for Front Beach, the perfect beach for the swimmer in your group! During high tide, the sandy beach real estate is hard to come by, but that just means more time in the water. There are plenty of inns and B&Bs located nearby to accommodate your beachside vacation.
- Metered on-street parking on Beach Street is available adjacent to Front Beach, and long-term parking is available in a privately operated lot across the street. In season the CATA Park & Ride (Blue Gate Lane off of Route 127) provides free parking and a trolley shuttle ($1 per person) directly to downtown Rockport and Front Beach daily. When you are finished with the beach, dry off and enjoy the number of restaurants and shops located nearby.
Route 127A, Beach Street in Downtown Rockport
Back Beach is home to one of the best scuba diving areas in the region. Dive in and discover the submerged world underneath the beautiful ocean. The sandy and rocky beach is perfect for divers, swimmers and walkers. On summer Sunday evenings, the Rockport Legion Band performs free outdoor concerts at the bandstand located just across the street from Back Beach.
- Metered on-street parking is available along the entire extent of Back Beach.
Maritime Gloucester was established back in 2000 by a group of almost 300 locals with a strong vision and a love for this community. Located on Harbor Loop, Maritime Gloucester is a non-profit organization created to serve this wonderful community as well as the greater Boston area. The organization caters mainly to schools and children’s programs through hands-on education in a number of areas.
Visitors to Maritime Gloucester can expect to be immersed into four centuries of nautical history. They operate with a philosophy of “looking to the past to inform the future.” There are many programs offering a diverse array of educational experiences like sailing and ship building. They also offer exhibits on local maritime history and the development of fishing vessels over the years. Not many people know that Maritime Gloucester and the rest of the community act as working harbors. At the heart of this community is Maritime Gloucester’s marine railway. This is the oldest operating marine railway in the country. To this day the railway still sets ships and schooners off to sea.
Maritime Gloucester isn’t just about history; they also look towards the future. From the robotics program to the wet lab, Maritime Gloucester is involved in finding new ways to study, learn and educate others in all aspects of sea life. One of the coolest exhibits is the Sea Pocket Aquarium. Visitors can explore the aquarium and its touch tanks as well as participate in the Creature of the Week Program. In the Coastal explorers program visitors can board the Schooner Ardelle and sail to a variety of destinations while observing a wonderful array of sea life.
Whether you have a passion for history of science, there is fun to be had at Maritime Gloucester. Maritime Gloucester offers a diverse selection of programs for kids of varying ages. Programs can be a week-long or you can drop in for a short but educational activity.
Click Here for current hours of operation.
Location: 23 Harbor Loop, Gloucester, MA, 01930
Phone Number: (978) 281 0470
Article and photos by Joe Codrington
Half Moon Beach at Stage Fort Park
Route 127 (Western Avenue) to Hough Avenue
Half Moon Beach is a quiet, intimate, crescent-shaped beach located at historic Stage Fort Park. Surrounded by a rocky hill and ample shady spots, it offers more seclusion from the rest of the park. Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. All flotation devices and surf boards are prohibited. The beach is handicapped accessible.
- Dogs are allowed in the park but are prohibited on the beach.
- Restrooms are located within the park.
- Parking is available at Stage Fort Park at a rate of $10 per vehicle weekdays and $15 on the weekends and holidays.
- Alcohol is prohibited.
- Directions: Take Exit 14 off Route 128 North. At the bottom of the ramp, bear right onto Route 133 toward Gloucester. Follow to the end with the Harbor in front of you. Bear right onto Western Avenue (Route 127) and then take an immediate left on Hough Avenue into Stage Fort Park.
The Paper House is a unique structure once used as the summer home of the builder, Elis Stenman. Its uniqueness comes from the newspaper used in the making of the walls and the furniture. An estimated 100,000 papers were used over a twenty year period. The furniture is sturdy, it was used at one time but is strictly for display at present.
This is one of those things that has to be seen to be believed. Located on a quiet street in the Pigeon Cove section of Rockport it may be a bit hard to find but worth the trip just for the adventure.
Visit paperhouserockport.com for more information.
Eastern Point Road, East Gloucester
Tucked away from the busy crowds, Niles Beach is located on Eastern Point Road in East Gloucester. It is primarily enjoyed by residents (a resident sticker is required for beachside parking), unless you can walk from another location. Not usually crowded, you can enjoy a quiet family beach day without the expected commotion that comes along with a summer beach day. Enjoy breathtaking vistas over Gloucester Harbor and the Boston skyline on the horizon.
- Lifeguards are on duty daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm from Father’s Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. All floatation devices and surf boards are prohibited.
- Portable restrooms are available seasonally.
- Alcohol is prohibited.
- Directions: Follow Route 128 North to its terminus at the Route 127A traffic lights in Gloucester. Proceed through the light and follow East Main Street through East Gloucester for approximately 2 miles. Niles Beach is located on Eastern Point Blvd., approximately 1/3 mile beyond the junction with Rocky Neck Boulevard and on the way to Eastern Point. A public parking lot is located along Rocky Neck Boulevard, offering easy access to Rocky Neck and a short hike to Niles Beach.
Western Avenue (Route 127) at the eastern end of Stacy Boulevard
Near Gloucester’s famous Fishermen’s Memorial Statue (The Man at the Wheel), Pavilion Beach on Gloucester Harbor is the perfect site for beachcombing and for gazing upon the plethora of watercraft as they head out to the channel. Located a short walk from downtown Gloucester, the beach is perfect for a quick dip before a trip to many of the nearby restaurants and shops just waiting for you to explore. The beach, a mix of sand and stone, does not have lifeguards on duty.
- Alcohol is prohibited.
- Limited public parking is available along Stacy Boulevard. Free public parking is also available at the nearby Saint Peter’s parking lot, located at the intersection of Rogers and Commercial Streets and adjacent to the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center located at 33 Commercial Street.
South Street, Rockport
This is a long, secluded, rocky beach separated from Long Beach by a short, seasonal foot bridge. Smooth sand is minimal at high tide. Normally a quiet beach, Cape Hedge Beach is located about 2 ½ miles from Rockport’s many unique shops and restaurants.
- Very limited non-resident parking is available along South Street. Please observe posted parking restrictions.
- Directions: From downtown Rockport follow Route 127A south for approximately 3 miles to fork at Cape Hedge Inn. Continue straight on South Street for approximately 400 yards to its terminus at Cape Hedge Beach.
60 Spring Street, Essex
Cogswell’s Grant, established in 1636 and now a historic house museum, became the summer home of collectors Bertram and Nina Fletcher Little in 1937. The eighteenth century farmhouse displays their celebrated collection of American folk art, including portraits, redware pottery, painted furniture, shaker boxes, hooked rugs, weathervanes and decoys. Everything is arranged exactly as the Little family lived with it. The property has been operated as a farm continuously for nearly four centuries and offers beautiful views of the marsh and Essex River. Special events include Kite Day in April and the Lipizzan Stallions in September. The museum is open for guided tours June 1 through October 15, Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am to 4 pm.