Satisfy Your Inner Culture Vulture
Be sure to discover the Cape Ann Museum, tucked away on Pleasant St., one block from Main Street in downtown Gloucester. It is truly a gem of a museum, housing the world’s largest collection of Fitz Henry Lane paintings and Folly Cove Designers textiles.
There are two galleries dedicated to the history of maritime trade and fishing. Works by renowned Cape Ann sculptors, painters, and photographers comprise the other ten galleries. The Museum has been undergoing renovations and has recently re opened to rave reviews. Add this world-class museum to your “Must See” list.
Walk a couple of blocks to Maritime Gloucester on Harbor Loop. Stroll out on the 200 ft. long Harriet Webster Wharf, where you can watch lobster boats, fishing boats, boatbuilding, and see all kinds of harbor activity. Touch tanks and aquariums focus on Cape Ann’s coastal habitats. Go inside and learn about the fishing industry, past and present. Hands-on and fun for kids of all ages.
Nestled in the heart of Main Street sits an outstanding example of high-style Georgian architecture, the home of Judith Sargent Murray, built in 1782. Ms. Murray was a writer, philosopher, and advocate for women’s equality in marriage and education. The home boasts rich interior woodcarvings and a collection of portraits by John Singer Sargent.
Ten minutes east, in the private Eastern Point neighborhood overlooking Gloucester harbor, find Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, a National Historic Landmark. The house was the summer retreat of one of America’s first premier interior designers, Henry Davis Sleeper. Forty rooms full of nooks, crannies, curiosities, folk art and china, Beauport holds afternoon teas and specialty programs throughout the summer. Captivating.
Across the harbor from Beauport, in the Magnolia section of Gloucester, is Hammond Castle, home of inventor, electrical engineer and collector John Hayes Hammond, Jr. Self-guided tours of this medieval style castle, home of the “Father of Remote Control” are sure to pique your curiosity. Among Hammond’s hundreds of patents was the development of remote control via radio waves, for which generations of couch potatoes are grateful.
There’s nothing like an Icehouse Tour on a hot day. Cape Pond Ice, on Commercial St., ‘down the fort’ offers tours of their historic ice house, where they have been supplying ice to Gloucester fishermen since 1848.
And in neighboring Essex, you will find the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. There were over 4000 wooden sailing vessels built in this small town and the Museum will show you when, where, and how they did it. Hands-on exhibits, ship models and lots of historic photographs will tell you a fascinating story that lives on today.
For a look at a fabulous collection of American folk art, meander to Cogswell’s Grant on Spring St. in Essex. This carefully restored 1728 farmhouse, the summer home of renowned collectors Bertram K. and Nina Fletcher Little, sits on 165 acres on the Essex River. Delightful, quirky, and fun.