Monday, October 11, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 76: Beverly, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 76:  Beverly, Massachusetts
September 8, 2010

            The North Shore of Massachusetts, for those of you who may not have read any of my previous articles, is one of my favorite places to visit.  I always enjoy my time there and love it even more when I find unexpected beauty in a place I visit.  This was the case when I paid another visit to the town of Beverly, also known as ‘The Garden City.’
John Cabot House c.1781
            Originally a part of Salem, and named for a town in Yorkshire, England, Beverly can lay claim to a very important moment in American history.  Beverly is the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution which began with the construction of the first cotton mill in 1787 or 1788.  To this day however, Beverly maintains that the first American vessel to engage the British in the Revolution, the Hannah, was built in, and first sailed from, Beverly.  They have so much faith in this that the Hannah is prominently featured on the police department’s patch.
John Hale House c.1694
The first spot I visited in Beverly was the John Cabot House on Cabot Street.  The house was the first brick house built in Beverly in 1781.  The house is only the beginning of the importance of the Cabot name in Beverly and before that in Boston.  The Cabot family lived in the Beacon Hill section of Boston and were one of the ‘Boston Brahmins’ or First Families of Boston.  The Cabot family’s first business in Boston upon their arrival from France was that of dory making, dory’s are small, shallow draft-boats.
Rear-view of Hospital Point Lighthouse
John Cabot who built the Cabot House I visited was one of the members of the family who made a fortune in privateering and banking.  In fact the house became the first office of the Beverly Bank in 1802 which is the tenth oldest bank in America.  John Cabot was one of its seven original directors.
There are many historic homes in Beverly, a lot of them have a very significant story to them like the Cabot House.  However, one that really caught my attention was the Rev. John Hale House on Hale Street.  Why is this house so important?  The Rev. John Hale was the pastor of the Church of Christ in Beverly during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692.  Hale was one of the most prominent figures associated with the Trails and is noted with having originally supported the Trials but then changing his mind.  He even wrote the book A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft in 1697 which challenged the legality and references to the Bible used in the Salem Witch Trials.  The house itself, in which Hale lived from 1694 until his death in 1700, is very unassuming but for its pale yellow exterior.  There are several large beech trees in the back of the house which are accompanied by an engraved stone explaining that they were planted in 1937 by the Beverly Improvement Society.
Rose Garden at Lynch Park
Another historic spot which is a little off the beaten path is Hospital Point Lighthouse.  Hard to find because it sits along side a private residence, this lighthouse takes its name from a smallpox hospital built on the spot in 1801.  The lighthouse itself is a rectangle which is different from the normal conic shape.  A watch house was built on the grounds all the way back in 1711.  The lighthouse looks out over Salem Sound and is clearly visible from the fence surrounding it.  However, it is on private land and thus cannot be seen any closer except on occasions when there are open houses.  The photos I took the first time I visited Beverly were from a stone wall at the end of Bayview Ave.  I would not recommend this to any traveler as there is a good forty-foot drop on the other side and a slip is always possible.  This more recent time I perched myself on a grassy knoll behind the house and got a few good shots while also respecting the private property.
My favorite spot that I saw while in Beverly actually came as a surprise to me.  I went to Lynch Park on Ober Street for the view of the shoreline that makes the North Shore famous.  However it was the rose garden located inside a sort of brick wall fortress that will be what stood out most for me as far as Beverly is concerned.
Rose Garden at Lynch Park
At one point there was a cottage which stood where the present day rose garden stands.  In the summers of 1909 and 1910 then-President William Howard Taft leased the cottage.  It was after the summer of 1910 that the Taft family was informed that the Evans family, which controlled the area then known as Burgess Point, planned to build an Italian rose garden on that spot.  The sunken rose garden with several brick steps leading down into the maze of flowers and beautifully manicured grass has been the sight of many weddings and other social gathering in its one hundred years of existence.  I was in awe of the sights and scents of the garden especially as the warm sun bathed the garden in bright light.
I cannot stress enough how impressive and beautiful this garden is.  Obviously it is best to be seen during the spring and summer when the flowers are in full bloom, I was lucky enough to stumble upon this place at the right time of the year.  Beverly adds yet another amazing town to my love affair with the North Shore of Massachusetts.  Make a list of the historic homes to visit and check out the great stories that go with each.  Don’t forget to take a drive by Hospital Point Light and absolutely make a lot of time to walk around the rose garden as well as the rest of the spectacular Lynch Park.  Have fun and happy traveling!

            For a short video of the rose garden at Lynch Park click here:  Lynch Park - Beverly, Ma. - YouTube

     My first book, In My Footsteps: A Cape Cod Travel Guide, is now available at,, and, soon to be in stores everywhere!  Follow me on Twitter!

DirectionsHospital Point Lighthouse: Take Rt. 128 off of I-95.  Take Exit 18, turn right onto Rt. 22.  Turn left at Corning St.  Continue onto Bayview Ave.  Hospital Point Light is on the left at the end.
            Lynch Park:  From Rt. 128 north take Exit 18 for Rt. 22.  Turn right at Rt. 22, turn left at Corning St.  Turn right at Oceanside Dr., park will be straight ahead at the end of the road. 
                Lynch Park - Beverly Recreation
            Essex National Heritage Area
            Beverly, Ma. - Official Town Site

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