Babsons On Cape Ann
Dogtown's Babson Boulders
At the core of Cape Ann, you can walk through Dogtown to find a trail of boulders marked with mottos, as well as numbers indicating the locations of cellars and foundations from the colonial history when the area was the Commons. Roger Babson purchased much of the land that is now Dogtown and donated it to the City of Gloucester for protection as a park and watershed of the Babson Reservoir. During the Depression, he hired stonecutters to carve mottos such as Truth, Help Mother and Get A Job. More on the history of Dogtown can be found essexheritage.org and northshore.edu. There are a variety of trail heads for accessing Dogtown, two are described on thedacrons.com which also includes a link to a trail map.
Bear Skin Neck
“Babson Babson Killed the Bear, With His Knife I do Declare”*
On Bearskin Neck, above the entrance to The Pewter Shop, is a painting that tells the story of how Bearskin Neck got its name. Ebenezer Babson was said to have seen a bear attack his nephew. “He immediately attacked the bear to get his attention away from the child, but having no gun he permitted the bear to follow him into the water. There, after a terrific struggle, Ebenezer killed the bear with a fish knife. He then brought the bear onto the shore, skinned him, and spread the skin on the rocks to dry.” Bearskin Neck is now the heart of downtown Rockport. More info on visiting is available on essexheritage.org and bearskinneck.net.
*Quote from John J. Babson, History of the Town of Gloucester Cape Ann Including the Town of Rockport (Massachusetts: Proctor Brothers, 1860) and The Witham Family History
Babson Farm Quarry (Halibut Point State Park)
If you are visiting Rockport, one place not to miss is the Halibut Point State Park (formerly the Babson Farm Quarry). Trails, ledges and tidal pools make this an ideal spot for a picnic or site seeing with expansive views of the Atlantic. On a clear day, you can see the islands of Maine!
There is a self-guided tour that highlights the eco-system and the history of the park. It was an active quarry starting around 1840 owned by the Babson Family and sold to the Rockport Granite Company and mined until the collapse of the granite industries in 1929. These same stone cutters were the ones hired by Roger Babson to forge the famous mottos on Dogtown’s Babson Boulders.
Eventually, the state purchased the land that was a Babson homestead to create Halibut Point State Park which has been referred to as the “Gem of the North Shore”. Click here for more information.
Cape Ann Museum
At the Cape Ann Museum, where you can explore the history and art of Cape Ann, the Babsons show up in several of the extensive exhibits and collections. Be sure to check out the art installation by Diane KW in the coatroom and bathroom that includes text and images from the 1838 ship’s log of Capt. Edward Babson and the diary of his wife, Amanda Babson. If you listen to the Thatcher Island Lighthouse Fresnel lens exhibit, the narration is by Thomas W. Babson, who you might find a sculpture of if you explore the Walker Hancock collection.
Babson Alling House
The Babson-Alling House is a historic colonial house at 245 Washington Street in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The 2.5 story Georgian house was built in 1740 by William Allen, and remains one of Gloucester’s finest houses of the period. It is a typical house of the time, with a center chimney plan and a gambrel roof. The house was bought by Joseph Low in 1779; his daughter Elizabeth married Nathaniel Babson, and their son ended up inheriting the property. It remained in the Babson family into the 20th century, eventually being inherited by Elizabeth Alling.
The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. Click here to read about the Babson Historic Association’s support for this historic site