Is this an Old Gloucester hotel? If not the Oceanside, what then? GMG responds to Request

Question: On Sunday, December 11, 2022, Jill wrote GMG wondering if the photographs she found showed a Gloucester hotel.

They don’t.


I came upon your website while trying to research some old photos. I have an old photo album, c. 1900s – 10s, of people from Boston. This hotel (see attachment) looks similar to the Oceanside Hotel, but not similar enough. I don’t know your area at all and wondered if you wouldn’t mind taking a look and seeing if it looks familiar? Thank you so much for your time.

Jill, email to GMG Sunday, December 11, 2022, 1:09 PM

The Oceanside, Gloucester, MA

Jill mentions Gloucester’s glamorous Oceanside Hotel as a comp, recognizing that it’s a close one but no cigar, and so many grand resorts operating at this time in our area. This special postcard shows Oceanside Hotel, Gloucester, MA, a 400 room hotel built in 1878. The building burned down to its foundation in 1958.

*photo of a postcard from the David Cox postcard collection, shared with me, and featured on the HarborWalk.

Buena Vista Springs, PA

The Buena Vista Springs was a luxury property banking on expectations of the tony Pen-Mar vision: a scenic park and amusement destination development that was constructed in 1877 on the Pennsylvania and Maryland border in the Blue Ridge mountains accessible by direct rail from regional hubs. The opulent hotel was built out ca. 1890 but shuttered fast– its short run a casualty of the 1893 financial crash. New owners stepped in. The building stood until a 1967 fire.

Both historic hotel properties reveal an elaborate architectural design, room capacity, timeline, and collapse. Both hotels catered to their respective regional brass and competed for summer destination status promising relief from the heat. One hailed its coastal bona fides, the other its proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Gettysburg, and clean, healing waters. Clean fresh air and water was emphasized at the time of the Russian Flu Pandemic, hence the marketing of “springs” in the name which doubled as short hand differentiation from other Buena Vista towns.

Note proximity to train

one could hike there- advertised in printed matter

Tagline – The Alps of America

See the original Rennert’s marketing brochure from the Collection of the National Library of Medicine

“What the Catskills and the Adirondacks are to New York, Buena Vista Springs–the most enchanting spot of the Blue Ridge (the Alps of America)–is destined to be to Baltimore and Washington, a resort for the betterment of health, pleasurer and recreation. It is easy to access: taking as the starting point, Baltimore, to which railroads from the North, South, East and West converge, the route lies over the Western Maryland Railroad, a line which traverses a section of country charming in the picturesqueness of its undulating lands, and which has been described as the Garden of the state by travellers of discernment. There is not a mile of this territory but has its special features to entrance the eye and leave their pleasant impression…Seated in these luxuriously appointed parlor cars, the visitors are whirled past towns and villages, pastoral scenes and busy mills, until a faint tint of azure fringes the landscape–the first glimpse of the Blue Ridge. The special “Blue Mountain Express” trains make the distance of seventy one miles between Baltimore and Buena Vista Spring Station in about two hours…”

Buena Vista Spring Hotel pamphlet – PDF here – includes topo map and floor plan

A Dry Atmosphere. Absolutely Pure Water Supply. Perfectly Sanative.

“Buena Vista Spring Hotel is most advantageously situated; There are no mountains rising above or near it to shut off the ozone impregnated air. The mountain zephyrs, in all the wantonness of summer idling, have free and obstructed access, and freighted with the odors of a thousand blooms and the balsamic aroma of a thousand mountain blooms and the balsamic aroma of a thousand mountain pines…”

Water analysis as sales tool:

Gettysburg back cover

Buena Vista Springs In the News – Society Scandals

1913 “Love Affair Again Rumored “

Medical conferences for DC policy movers and shakers

Hotel guests included foreign dignitaries and politicians. Medical conferences were a draw including at the time of the 1918 Flu Pandemic; the locale maintained a focus as a restorative retreat. (For more about the 1918 Flu epidemic and Gloucester see here)

1915 – “Tuberculosis taken up by conference”

1916 – “Rotarians Plan Trip by Motor for Days Outing”



Regional Tourism AD


Outhouses in American photographs: Victorian Age – early 20th Century including FSA Lee Russell, Carl Mydans, Walker Evans (excerpt 2)

Per reader request, over the next few days I’ll be reposting mini chapter excerpts — primarily illustrations– from a longer read about the evolution of outhouses and public utilities specific to Gloucester, Massachusetts, Privy to Privy History, on Good Morning Gloucester June 6, 2021.

Catherine Ryan, Aug. 2021

Gloucester housing stock (and hotels) included luxury homes with bathrooms and water closets as well as modest solutions. Rough outhouses were common, too. Can you spot the outhouses downtown and in East Gloucester?

(Reminder about the photographs: you can pinch and zoom to enlarge and right click for descriptions. Some media offer the option to “increase file size”.)


Then (below the garden) | Now

Gloucester – Victorian Age outhouses

1930 – 1941 American outhouses – cross county photos

photographs outhouses across America – Library of Congress

  • Cincinnati row houses with backyard outhouses, 1930s
  • privy plant pre cast base, Missouri, by Lee Russell, 1938
  • Placing concrete in form for privy slab, MN, by Shipman, 1941, Library of Congress (collection FSA Office of War Info)
  • South family’s shaker style privy, Harvard, Worcester County, MA 1930s
  • General Israel Putnam Privy, Brooklyn, CT after storm
  • Arlington, MA, Walker Evans 1930s
  • Privy Monterey, Delaware, circa 847
  • Washington DC “slum” privy, Carl Mydans, 1935
  • “old six hole privy, Wiggins Tavern”, Northampton, MA, Lee Russell, 1939

photographs Indoor bathrooms residential and public – New York Public Library


Cincinnati backyard outhouses