Gloucester Motif Monday: coastal homes with cut out shutters

From where I was standing in Gloucester neighborhoods, here are several homes (and one gallery) with cut out shutters; beginning with the green shutters seen on the Beauport, Sleeper-McCann house, one of Gloucester’s two National Historic Landmarks, and a Historic New England property.









Beyond shutters: beginning with “Lookout Hill”, estate built by Natalie and John Hays Hammond, Sr :

4 thoughts on “Gloucester Motif Monday: coastal homes with cut out shutters

    1. Hi thanks for writing. Yes, there is a lot of local history about Lookout Hill and it is wild! What has you asking?

      When you look across the harbor to Stage Fort Park from downtown and see a castle tower you are seeing Lookout Hill – a property named by Mr. and Mrs. John Hays Hammond, Sr. (Their son, engineer and inventor John Hammond Jr., built two wireless telegraph towers on his parents’ summer estate off Western Ave. The castle tower architecture improved curb appeal and served as clever concealment. He built renowned Hammond Castle years later.) There is much more I could write about the Hammonds in Gloucester.

      Before the Hammonds, the original summer estate was built in 1845 by George and Mary Ann Hovey. It burned down in 1878, a year after that patriarch’s death. The three Hovey children rebuilt in 1881. Sadly two of the siblings died by 1900: son Henry who owned the yacht Fortuna (Eastern Yacht Club) and daughter, Marian. Marian purchased 102 Beacon in Boston, the sister building to 100 Beacon which her parents bought in 1855. Besides that preservation move, Marian was a philanthropist and feminist. She purchased gym equipment for Radcliffe College. She underwrote teaching positions in Gloucester; Hovey School, a former elementary school in Gloucester, was named for Marian. In 1878, she made international news when as trustee of her father’s estate she stipulated a $10,000 gift to Harvard only if women were admitted to the medical school. Reportedly, their family had received outstanding care from Dr. Lucy Sewall. Marian Hovey wrote the president of Harvard, Charles W. Eliot, “As one of the trustees of a fund for benevolent purposes bequeathed by my father, Mr. George O. Hovey, I am authorized to submit to you a proposal to give the sum of ten thousand to the Harvard medical School, if its advantages can be offered to women on equal terms with men. My father made this an express condition in a plan once formed by him for an educational endowment, and it is hoped that the Medical Faculty of Harvard Univ. will not consider it an insuperable obstacle to the acceptance of this offer…Few women students can afford to go to Europe for the education which is offered them by some of the best medical schools there…” The issue was referred to the Overseers and Faculty of Medicine and ultimately voted down more than a year later. (Univ. of Michigan accepted women in 1869.) Her efforts and recognition for this early trailblazing (and connection to Gloucester) have been forgotten, eclipsed by greed long after her death. Her estate is the penultimate example of probate delay. She bequeathed her estate to her brother, her sister and her sisters’ sons, stipulating that if the nephews died without naming beneficiaries, their trust fund would be split among Harvard medical School, MIT, and the MFA. It’s quite a sad tale of inheritance after her death, and what’s lost is her advocacy for equal education and philanthropy. In the ensuing decades of legal battles she is reduced to an infirm heir. Not a good look for all three institutions especially with that glass ceiling threshold at Harvard.
      Regarding what would become ‘Lookout Hill’ – Hammond Sr. bought property in 1905. They built a mansion on ‘Western Ave’ bordering Freshwater Cove and Gloucester Harbor. In 1925, they built a second mansion on the estate, closer to the road, an Elizabethan villa built back in 1876 which they reconstructed and tripled in size to 45 rooms.

      In 1938, another scion associated with this land in Gloucester made news for adding a stipulation on her own largesse: daughter Natalie Hammond proposed plans to give the 45 room estate at 190 Western Avenue to the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston for possible use as a girls’ school. Natalie had been in the spotlight since she was a child, photographed as a socialite and creative, and thanks to her parents’ press announcements. She was a writer, movie actress, dancer, fashion designer, business owner, inventor and artist. She worked across varied media as a miniaturist, costume & set designer, painter, and what we would call performance art today. Throughout the 1920s, Natalie attended soirees dressed as young man in character like a ‘Victorian gallant’, or a famous man from history.

      Lookout Hill became a convalescent home for clergy known as “Cardinal Cushing Villa” and remained so through 1980. The Unification Church purchased the estate in 1980 and has used it as a retreat as well. In July 2020, part of the original Hammond estate, the mansion at 160 Western Avenue, was sold. There’s much more to Natalie’s career and life in Gloucester and New York but I am limiting the response to the property Lookout Hill.
      I’ve written about and researched the Hammond and Hovey families for years. – Catherine Ryan


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