Monday, August 23, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 63: Hull, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 63:  Hull, Mass.
July 8, 2010

            Though it is the fourth smallest town in the state of Massachusetts in terms of land area, Hull is home to many very well known attractions.  This peninsula of land, sticking more than two miles out into the water is bordered on the east by Massachusetts Bay and on the west by Hull Bay.  It is a thickly settled beach front town where nearly every home has a view of the water.  It is filled with tightly packed houses that all seem right out of early-20th Century postcards. 
Looking north along Nantasket Beach.
The main attraction of Hull, besides its tremendous view of the Boston skyline, is Nantasket Beach.  The name ‘Nantasket’ comes from the Massachusett Indian tribe’s word meaning ‘at the strait.’  The beach is considered to be one of the finest in New England and is made special by the fine light gray sand left behind by glaciers.  During the summer getting a parking spot is next to impossible even though the beach itself is nearly two miles long and there are many parking lots to fill.  The view from the beach is great as well as you can see down the coast toward Cohasset and the great Atlantic Avenue drive that I mentioned in my Cohasset article.   
The Paragon Carousel
The Nantasket Beach Reservation is twenty-six acres and includes the fantastic Paragon Carousel which is where I parked to take in the beauty of the famous beach.  As I stated above, parking was at a premium so I needed to park a few streets away from the beach.  The Paragon Carousel is one of the only remnants of Paragon Park.  This was an amusement park built along Nantasket Beach in 1905 as a safe place for families to enjoy when the area had been overrun with con-men and thieves.  The park at one time included the ‘Giant Coaster’ rollercoaster ride.  This is significant because after the park closed in 1984 the ride was dismantled and sold to Six Flags in the Washington D.C. area and operates as ‘The Wild One.’  Besides the carousel there is a really neat clock tower connected with the old Paragon Park which still stands.  The rest of the former park’s grounds are filled with condominiums now.   
            Continuing along the narrow strip of land that makes up Hull I stopped at Mariner’s Park which sits on Fitzpatrick Way.  It is a small marina where many boats were sitting on this day.  There is a great view of the Spinnaker Island Condominiums from behind the marina.  Spinnaker Island used to be known as Hog Island and is only accessible by a quarter-mile long bridge.   Another reason why I stopped at Mariner’s Park was for the view across the street. 
Fort Revere
            Only a short walk away, where Fitzpatrick Way and Nantasket Avenue meet there is a short wall and from there you can see out into Boston Harbor and the Brewster Islands.  I stood on the wall and was mesmerized by Boston Light located about a mile off shore.  However, as good as this view was, there was an even better view to come of the same area.
The first time I happened upon Fort Revere it was purely by accident.  I was trying to get to a higher vantage point to snap a few photos of Hull from up on Telegraph Hill.  It was after climbing a concrete wall at the back end of Hull Cemetery that I first came face to face with the awe-inspiring Fort Revere.  The eight acre park sits comfortably about sixty-feet above seal level which gives you an even better view of the Brewster Islands than from ground level. 
The observation tower at Fort Revere.
            Fort Revere was built in 1776 and has a clear view of the surrounding landscape from Boston Harbor south to Cohasset Harbor.  Straight out to the east sits the amazing Boston Lighthouse.  Located on Little Brewster Island, this current lighthouse was built in 1783 although the station itself was begun in 1716.  Even more amazing is the fact that the island station is shared by the lighthouse with five other houses each more than a hundred years old.  On a clear day the ‘younger’ Graves Lighthouse can be seen behind Boston Light.  Built in 1905, it is grey in color and is best seen by boat.  Near the parking lot at Fort Revere Park there is a map of the Brewster Island which will allow you to place names with the land.
            Fort Revere is a maze of concrete tunnels and steps.  It is an earthen fort much like Fort Taber in New Bedford.  Inside the shadowy halls of the fort there is a lot of graffiti which is a shame but it is still a really neat walk going through each of the halls.  I have read numerous articles saying that Fort Revere is haunted but while I was there I did not hear or see anything unusual.  Granted I was there both times on sunny and bright days, not at night, so who knows.  
            On the other side of Telegraph Hill sits an octagon-shaped water tower that doubles as an observation tower.  It is a pale yellow in color and while I was there a lone turkey was wandering the grounds.  The observation deck used to be accessible for a few hours on the first Saturday of the month, but upon returning I was saddened to see a sign that said that people would no longer be allowed to climb up inside.  I can only imagine the view from up inside.
            My visit to Hull was packed with amazing sights despite the relatively small area that the town encompasses.  I highly recommend taking a walk on Nantasket Beach, a ride on the incredible Paragon Carousel, and then a walk through history at Fort Revere.  It’s all so close together that you can really take your time and enjoy it.  Have fun and happy traveling!

DirectionsNantasket Beach: On Rt. 3A north turn right onto Rt. 228 North.  Continue onto Hull St. which becomes Nantasket Ave.  There are several beach parking lots on the right.  Paragon Carousel is located on the corner of Nantasket Avenue and Wharf Avenue.
            Fort Revere: On Rt. 3A north turn right onto Rt. 228 North.  Continue onto Hull St. which becomes Nantasket Ave.  Take a left at Fitzpatrick Way which becomes Nantasket Ave. again.  After a mile take a sharp left at Farina Rd., continue onto Ft. Revere Park.
ReferencesParagon Carousel
            Paragon Park Memories
            Hull, Ma. - Official Town Site

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