The Oceanside Hotel in Gloucester MA

The grand hotels of Gloucester and Cape Ann

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Cape Ann was a popular destination for tourists. Gloucester’s grand hotels were the subject of “The Summer Hotel Guide,” published in 1905. Images and text are available through

“This little book will rejoice in the thought that it has accomplished its mission if in interesting you in Gloucester, it has added another to the long list of friends of this quaintly beautiful seaport town. If it could speak it would say to you, ” Gloucester welcomes you to her shores, and invites you to enjoy with us the delightful climate and varied attractiveness which she offers.”

To Reach Gloucester, Gloucester, Massachusetts— the place you come back to — is situated on that rugged promontory known as Cape Ann, where cooling ocean breezes blow continually from off the broad Atlantic. It is thirty miles from Boston from which it may be reached by Train, Steamer, Trolley or Automobile. About sixteen trains daily leave the North Station, Boston, via the Boston & Maine Railroad, direct for Gloucester, the Express Trains reaching Gloucester in less than an hour.

The Steamer trip on the finely equipped steamers of the Boston & Gloucester Steamboat Company is a two-hour ocean sail along the beautiful North Shore, with a varied scenic view of which there is no superior. By Trolley the trip is delightfully varied on account of the ever changing panorama of beautiful scenery of sea and shore, country and city. Only one change of cars is required between Boston and Gloucester. An Automobile Trip to Gloucester is made over a fine stretch of State Highway and Ocean Boulevard.”

Hotel Delphine
The Fairview
The Oceanside Hotel, Gloucester MA, cira 1900.
The Oceanside Hotel, Gloucester MA, circa 1900.
The Pavillion Beach Hotel
The Surfside Hotel, formerly Pavilion Hotel
Colonial Arms: Built 1904 – by George Stacy, End of Niles Beach. 300 rooms – booked solidly for 4 seasons Burnt New Year’s Eve 1908, Beauport was being built next door – possible sparks from chimney started fire
Moorland Hotel at Bass Rocks
The Hawthorne Inn
The Beachcroft is located at Eastern Point within a stone's throw of a beautiful bathing beach.
“The Beachcroft is located at Eastern Point within a stone’s throw of a beautiful bathing beach.”
The Edgecliffe is located at High Rocks, near Long Beach, right on the Atlantic Ocean, offering splendid opportunities for fishing and surf bathing.

The Hesperus Hotel in Magnolia
Hotel Thorwald
“The Overlook is located at Annisquam on a commanding eminence offering a beautiful view of the waters of Annisquam River and the surrounding country.”
The Harbor View Hotel was on Wonson Cove in East Gloucester. The large hotel was home to many summer artists, including Gordon Grant and Tom O’Hara (bellhop in the 20’s
The Rockaway House was built in 1896 on the homestead estate of William Rackliffe. This summer hotel was managed by Rackliffe’s son-in-law, Captain Frank Foster. Built on what Rocky Neckers once called “Scandal Hill,” The Rockaway House is one of the rare hotel buildings from this period still standing in Gloucester but has been significantly altered. See the comments below.
The Chicataubut Inn on Long Beach, as it appears today
The Chicataubut Inn on Long Beach, circa 1900
Turk's Head Inn, Rockport
Turk’s Head Inn, Rockport

The Turk’s Head Inn was at the intersection of South Street and Thatcher Road in Rockport, with a sweeping view of Loblolly Cove and the twin lighthouses on Thacher Island. The original right section burned in 1905 and was replaced by the rectangular structure. The inn closed around 196, and was destroyed by fire three years later.

35 thoughts on “The grand hotels of Gloucester and Cape Ann”

  1. These are great. One mistake – Your “Moorland” photo is actually the Colonial Arms which was at the end of Niles Beach on Eastern Point.

    Colonial Arms:
    Built 1904 – by George Stacy
    End of Niles Beach
    300 rooms – booked solidly for 4 seasons
    Burnt New Year’s Eve 1908
    Beauport was being built next door – possible sparks from chimney started fire

    I can send you images of both if you want, but can’t seem to attach them through this email system.

  2. Hello. My name is Ann Shaw. Would you have any photos/ information about The Chicataubut Inn that was on Long Beach? I believe it is now condos. Would love to know the history of it. Thank you, Ann

  3. Just wondering why the Harbor View Hotel in east gloucester on Wonson cove wasn’t included.
    It was a big one and home to many summer artists such as Gordon Grant and Tom O’hara (bellhop in the 20’s). Perhaps it was under construction or unbuilt. I was under the impression that it was built in the late 1800’s.

    1. I remember the year I got out of the Navy I think it was 1955? There was an arson burning all the old motels and hotels that year if I remember correctly? I also remember when season my stepfather Elliot Lane ran the boiler at the Oceanside Hotel and always brought home some goodies from the bakery left over, I was so lucky to be born on Cape Ann in 1933 it was a paradise for kids I’m full of great memories and meeting so many of the artists that lived there

      1. Do you have memories of the part of the Oceanside they called The Annex? It was the old Hesperous House Hotel?

  4. Fascinating! Having spent my whole childhood there I was unaware that there were so many grand hotels in Gloucester. I should buy all 3 of those books!

  5. I remember when I got out of the Navy in 1954 or shortly thereafter they was a firebug burning them all down. My stepfather took care of the boilers in the Ocean Side for a couple of years, and he used to bring home the best dessert that was left over from some of their meals. Time Marches On.

  6. Thank you for adding The Rockaway. It is my understanding that my grandfather William A. Publicover, Sr. ran it for several years and owned it by 1898. If that is not correct please point me toward the historical information. Thank you, Robert Publicover

    1. Robert,
      My husband and I bought a condo in the former Rockaway Hotel building in 2016 and have done extensive research on it starting from land acquisition to all owners and changes to the property over time. As you know, your grandfather and his family managed the Rockaway for 63 years, the longest of any owners. While we have a great deal of information amassed about the Publicover years, we have many questions and would also welcome any information you might have. Please do not hesitate to contact me at I hope we can connect to discuss this important part of Rockaway history. Many thanks in advance, Susan Morreale

  7. My Great-great grandfather Daniel William Fuller built the Hesperus in Magnolia and operated it until his fatal fall down a mine shaft in Leadville, Colorado in 1880. I would be interested in any and all info anyone might have about the Hesperus.

  8. Thanks so much for including Harbor View House. I remember my childhood summers skipping over the rocks along the shore, and gleefully running along that marvelous veranda! Memories of my grandparents and parents and me enjoying two weeks together each summer in Gloucester while staying there came flooding back when I saw your photo. Lots of tears fell for its loss! Memories of feeding the gulls while waiting for delicious dinners at Headlands” Restaurant and visiting the lovely shops and galleries on Rocky Neck abound as well.

  9. Thank you so much for those pictures. You have completed a genealogical question. My gr gr grandmother’s niece was from St. Louis, but the MO record said she died in Gloucester. I could not find Gloucester, Missouri any where. Finally, the MA death records showed her dying in Gloucester, MA, and a social column said she and her family summered at the Ocean Side in Magnolia. Thank you,
    I can now rest. 😉

  10. Does anyone have any information on the the boarding house in Magnolia ma called “El. Unico”? There is a photo online twitch the caption

  11. Do you know anything about one of the first hotels in Gloucester, a Grahamite (vegie?) temperance hotel run by Rev. George C. Leach and wife Elizabeth (Allen) 1843 ff, a stop on the Underground Railroad?

    1. I understand that the Leach hotel was at 23 Brattle St. in Boston. Please let me know about the Gloucester hotel. Elizabeth was the sister of the Rockport Universalist minister, John Allen. An abolitionist, he moved on from Rockport to Brook Farm, and other communal ventures. Please get in touch.

  12. Thanks for work you’ve done to pull this all together. This is a great place to vicariously experience the grand-hotel age of the North Shore. It’s a shame there’s not a lot of evidence left of it.

    The comment regarding the Rockaway is not quite accurate. As near as we can tell, the images you show are of the original Hotel and the original annex. We believe the original annex was torn down in 1905 to create the new annex which does still exists as condominiums today. The gabled roofline was build to mimic the hotel’s gabled roofline. The Hotel itself partially burned down, was rebuilt and then was torn down and used to sit in the area now occupied by the newer condo Townhouse’s driveway.

    I would love to know more about the name “Scandal Hill” as I’ve not been able to find any reference to it elsewhere (but I do love it). If anyone is interested, there’s a book on Amazon set in the last days of the Rockaway, called “In a Place Like No Other” by Ed Touchette.

    In response to the question by Robert Publicover, the answer is yes, In 1902, the
    Fosters sold the boarding house to William Alexander Publicover who created the Hotel. We have some historical documents showing him selling the rights to Fremont St. to the town.

    There’s a good history here:

    Click to access Trail%20Site%2011_Rockaway.pdf

    There are some additional historical photos, mainly from old post cards. Do a google image search with the hotel’s name and the word “Postcard”.

    Thanks again – excellent page and great historical resource!

  13. Thank you…. it would be wonderful to see a current perspective of ALL the Beauitful inn’s, b&b and hotels that are continue to welcome visitors from all over the country and the world, here on Cape Ann…?…!!

  14. Read a 1923 diary entry of Nina Winn of Arlington (the entries are posted to by local historian Richard Duffey) about her summer vacation at the Colby Arms in East Gloucester. Does anyone have any info on the Colby Arms?

  15. I grew up in Pigeon Cove and remember very well Turks Head Inn in Rockport. By the 1960’s it was no longer in very good shape and finally burned. I also remember seeing the Hesperus Hotel in Magnolia when I was young, shortly before it burned. One hotel that survived and is still in use is the Emerson Inn in Pigeon Cove.

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