Category Archives: Gloucester History

More than just a Lighthouse Tour with Captain Donald Steele

_2014_07_19_045506 Stitch

IMG_3650Harbor Tours provides a tour of six Lighthouse tour on Cape Ann, (Ten Pound Island, Eastern Point, Straitsmouth, Thacher and Annisquam Lighthouses). The tour is far more; it is narrated by Captain Donald Steele; who gives the history of Cape Ann and the many points of interest; you seethe many islands along the coast line, local and private beaches, and some celebrities’ homes along the shore. As a Gloucester native he tells stories of the many storms, that occurred along the rough coast line of Cape Ann.

The tour is a must for locals and Gloucester visitors. In the slideshow you will see the many delighted faces of people on the tour that I went on this past weekend. 

Fiesta Through the Eyes of the Little Guys

For anyone who has grown up in or around Gloucester, the St. Peter’s Fiesta has clearly served as the true kick-off to summer. But, it is much more than that. The funny thing is that the importance and significance of Fiesta has probably also changed throughout each individual’s life time depending on their age.  At times the religious celebrations have been of upmost importance… and later the rides. At times maybe the five day celebration was all about family… and later it was all about hanging out with friends.  At times it was about hoping to get a glimpse of that certain “crush” under the ferris wheel and years later it was all about air guitar at Old Timers or trying to cut in line at The Gloucester House. Still later, possibly you’ve come full circle, and celebrating with loved ones makes the Fiesta a time to truly be treasured.  At times the parade reigned supreme….and later, maybe the fireworks.  For many years playing on the beach during the seine boat races was more fun than actually watching them….and later cheering for a certain crew was equivalent to the Kentucky Derby.  The Greasy Pole has always been….well, the Greasy Pole.  Whether you love it for the tradition or the insanity, the sport or the absurdity….whether you watch it from Pavilion Beach or by boat in the harbor…there is nothing quite like it.

I’ve been there for all of them.  I have fond memories of the Fiesta that range from being a very young child, to a preteen, to a teenager, to a college student, to a bar-crawling 20 something year-old, to a “grown-up”, and now as a parent….who feels blessed to be sharing the experience with my own children. I have Fiesta memories that involve holding my grandfather’s hand as he guided me through the crowd and later memories of holding his hand as I supported him. I have Fiesta memories of holding the hand of long ago boyfriends and later Fiesta memories of holding the hand of my now husband.  Maybe the best memories are the newest….as just today, I held the hands of both of my sons while jumping from ride to ride.

So, as the mother of a 5 and 7 year-old, St. Peter’s Fiesta to me so far this year has been all about the rides, the games, and the food.  It is all about the color, the sounds, the smells…and the way they all seem to blur together.  While I may have desired to capture other aspects of this year’s Fiesta and I would love to get that “perfect shot”…..I have found myself enjoying it through my children’s eyes.

And this is how they see it.

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Part Two of My Article for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism Featuring Gloucester’s HarborTown Cultural District

Friday was an especially terrific day for me as my article for Cape Ann Magazine hit the newsstands and later in the day, I learned that part two of my article for the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, “Gloucester Harbortown Cultural District,” was posted on the MOTT blog, Mass Finds.

I was completely taken by surprise that my photo was chosen for the cover of Cape Ann Magazine and just happened to be in Joey’s office down at the dock when Andrea Holdbook, CAMag’s editor-in-chief posted on goolge that the summer issue had hit the stands. It was especially fun to share the news with Joey because he provides a tremendous forum here on GMG highlighting all the good happenings and events in our community, and because he is so supportive towards all his contributors.

Yesterday I posted an excerpt from Cape Ann Magazine’s “Cape Ann to Mexico: The Monarch Butterfly Connection,” and the following is an excerpt from the MOTT article. Please share with your friends. Thank you! Part One is posted here.


MOTT Article
Gloucester HarborTown Cultural District
Part Two
By Kim Smith

The last days of winter and first days of spring herald the beginning of the nine-day novena leading up to the Feast of St. Joseph, which always takes place on March 19th. With its thriving Sicilian American community, Gloucester is one of only a handful of American cities that celebrates the Feast of San Giuseppe with traditional Sicilian customs. Homes are decorated with altars devoted to the patron saint of the poor and orphaned, and a special trolley takes everyone who is interested around the city to view the altars of San Giuseppe. Special Saint Joseph bread, oranges, and lemons are given to all who come, while everyone eagerly anticipates the coming feast day.

St. Joseph Trolley ©Kim Smith 2012Saint Joseph Trolley Participants

Summertime is Gloucester’s high season. The city is alive with nightly live music, an embarrassment of riches in fabulous restaurants, and bustling shops and galleries. On specially designated nights, Main Street is closed to traffic and the entire town becomes one giant block party. Restaurants open onto the street, merchant booths appear, shops have special offerings, and there are street performers and family-friendly activities at every corner.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk Family Gloucester Block Party ©Kim Smith 2012 copy

Bill and Mayor Carolyn Kirk Family and Friends at the Block Party

In August the tall ships arrive from around the world to participate in Gloucester’s Schooner Festival. “Le Beauport,” Gloucester’s beautiful working harbor, is the backdrop for the races and parades of these magnificent traditional fishing vessels designed during the age of sail. The afternoon lobster bake, nighttime nautical Parade of Lights, and fireworks that brilliantly illuminate the harbor are just some of the fun family-friendly activities that take place during the three-day long Schooner Festival.

Schooner Festival Lobster Bake ©Kim Smith 2013 copy

George and Charles Ryan at the First Annual Schooner Festival Lobster Bake

Don’t miss the opportunity to take a sunset tour of Gloucester Harbor aboard one of the exquisite schooners built by the living legendary ship builder and National Heritage fellow, Harold Burnham, on either the 65-foot Thomas E. Lannon with Captain Tom Ellis or the Pinky Schooner, operated out of Maritime Gloucester.

St. peter's Fiesta Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2012 copy

My favorite event of the summer is the annual St. Peter’s Fiesta, with both its deeply religious aspect of honoring St. Peter, the patron saint of fishermen, and the jubilant festivities that take place throughout the city during the five-day celebration. Read More Here.

St. Peter's Fiesta from Ferris Wheel © Kim Smith 2011 copy




W. G. Brown and Company, circa 1920

W. G. Brown department store was located at 186 and 188 Main Street in downtown Gloucester. It was touted as the largest dry goods store this side of Lynn. The W. G. Brown building today is called Brown's Mall and stands across the street from the Gloucester District Court and Police Station. Dry goods stores carry textiles and household items other that those in hardware and grocery stores.

W. G. Brown department store was located at 186 and 188 Main Street in downtown Gloucester. It was touted as the largest dry goods store this side of Lynn. The W. G. Brown building today is called Brown’s Mall and stands across the street from the Gloucester District Court and Police Station. Dry goods stores carry textiles and household items other that those in hardware and grocery stores.

Smith Cove Fleet, circa 1960

Smith Cove in East Gloucester was, and still is, populated by both fishing and pleasure boats. In the background of the photo is East Main Street, with Banner Hill rising above it. The boats, from left to right: Harpoon sword fishing boat "Jaguar" (previously named Lord Jim and also a WWII submarine chaser), owned by Dr. Fred Breed; "Jumping Jennifer," Tom Morse's fishing boat; Party fishing boat "Winner III," owned by Bobby Anderson; and the "Naomi Bruce III," co-owned by Cy Tysver and the Shoares family. Vessel histories are complex, and all comments and corrections are welcome.

Smith Cove in East Gloucester was, and still is, populated by both fishing and pleasure boats. In the background of the photo is East Main Street, with Banner Hill rising above it. The boats, from left to right: Harpoon swordfishing boat “Jaguar” (previously named Lord Jim and also a WWII submarine chaser), owned by Dr. Fred Breed; “Jumping Jennifer,” Tom Morse’s fishing boat; Party fishing boat “Winner III,” owned by Bobby Anderson; and the “Naomi Bruce III,” co-owned by Cy Tysver and the Shoares family. Vessel histories are complex, and all comments and corrections are welcome.

Fodor’s names Gloucester one of New England’s Most Picturesque Towns

Check out last Friday’s Fodor’s article listing Gloucester in their 15 of New England’s Most Picturesque Towns.  Here’s what they say about Gloucester

About an hour north of Boston on Cape Ann, Gloucester is the country’s oldest seaport and predates Boston and Salem. It was established as an English settlement in 1623, and today you can visit historic houses like the Cape Ann Historical Association. Gloucester’s scenic beauty has attracted many artists, including Winslow Homer, William Morris Hunt, Mark Rothko, Maurice Prendergast, and Edward Hopper. The Rocky Neck Art Colony—the first settled artist colony in the U.S.—has many contemporary artist studios and galleries.

There’s something primal about drums — Feel it SAT @ Gloucester’s UU Church Meetinghouse

EntrainPoster_900bArchaeologists have dated instruments back at least 37,000 years. They figure the first ones were likely made long before that and were probably flutes and drums.  Suffice it to say that when we hear and feel drums, most of us react instinctively by moving — even if it’s just a little bit — and our consciousness changes a little bit too.  This Saturday, you can feel what I’m talking about at Gloucester’s UU Meetinghouse when we present ENTRAIN.  In case you haven’t guessed, it’s the perfect venue to experience drums for lots of reasons.  Built in 1806, it’s the oldest standing church building in Gloucester; it’s made of wood; the acoustics are spectacular!

Don’t wait until the last minute.  Get your tickets now and save $10.

More fun with Radio Ads & Adobe Premiere

Some of you may remember the last time I added visuals to a radio ad and made a video.  Well I’ve done it again for our UU Meetinghouse benefit next Friday, April 25 featuring local stars 3rian King, Chelsea Berry, Renee Dupuis, Joe Cardoza and Dennis Monagle with Boston-based Meff and Brendan Burns, all of whom “come together” as The Number Nines for a fresh take on The Beatles.  

CREDITS: Music by The Number Nines; radio ad produced by Jay Foss of Northshore 104.9;  most of the photos by Louise Welch & Philip Doyle;  the Number Nines logo by 3rian King.  Poster design by Vickie Van Ness.

Vickie wants me to choose between Hendrix & The Beatles, but I won’t do it!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this year, you already know that 2014 is the 5oth anniversary of The Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan.  I begged my parents to let me stay up and watch the show — and they agreed.  (Kids went to bed earlier in those days.)

It was a thrill!  Most everybody on my block was already a Beatles fan and the next day, we were utterly devoted.  We all started saving up for the next record.  Being the 5oth anniversary of what CBS billed as “The Night That Changed America”, you’ve also probably seen lots of Beatles tribute bands playing around.  Next Friday (April 25), Top area musicians come together (yes, pun intended) to help raise money for Gloucester’s UU Meetinghouse as The Number Nines — but this is no tribute band.  Rather, it’s three top Gloucester singer/songwriters: 3rian King, Chelsea Berry and Renée Dupuis, joined by Boston‐based multi‐instrumentalist Meff and guitarist Brendan Burns with Gloucester’s favorite rhythm section: Dennis Monagle and Joe Cardoza.  They’ll perform their own originals plus fresh takes on The Beatles, like this soulful interpretation of “I Want To Hold Your Hand” featuring Chelsea Berry on vocals:

So, we can all agree that The Beatles are the greatest rock band ever, right?  “Not so fast,” quips Vickie.  “What about Jimi Hendrix?”
“What about him?” I reply.
“You’re always saying he’s the greatest rock guitar player, who ever lived.”
“Well, of course he is.” [Here's one of my Hendrix favorites]

“So how can The Beatles be the best rock band ever?”
“Oh come on.  I can’t choose between The Beatles and Hendrix!”

So the next night, April 26, our friend Jon Butcher is bringing his powerful new show, The Jon Butcher Axis: Celebrating the Music of Jimi Hendrix to the Larcom Theatre for their Boston area debut.  Check out Jon’s version of another one of my favorite Hendrix tunes:

I’ll be at both.  You can be too.  You don’t have to choose.

Get The Number Nines tickets here.  Get Axis tickets here.

Crazy Moon @ 8:30, Blood Moon at 2am

As GMG Weather man Peter Lovasco points out in his very informative post (with great pix) there’s a Blood Moon tonight.  This just in from Lisa Smith about how Cape Ann TV plans to celebrate:

Blood MoonBlood Moon/Lunar Eclipse tonight! Is it a prophecy of doom? or a rare celestial event? We here at Cape Ann TV are not sure of what to make of this heavenly sideshow. But to celebrate this rare phenomenon, we will be airing Gordon Bairds’ “Crazy Moon” a musical odyssey.

“Crazy Moon” airs tonight on Channel 8:30 p.m., with repeats at the wee hours of Tuesday morning at: 12:00 am, 1:30 am, 3:00 am and 4:30 am.

Crazy MoonThe Blood Moon goes live in the night sky at 12:53 a.m. through 6:37 a.m., and peaks between 3:07 a.m. and 4:25 a.m. on the East Coast, according to NASA.

Pictured is a NASA photo of a Blood Moon and a Gloucester Daily Times photo of Gordon Baird, note the red aura emanating from both orbs.



God’s Country

Does it get any better than where we live?  I think not.  Since our two sons were born, we’ve been “Sunday Drivers.”  Tease me if you’d like, but I swear that half of their early language came from trips “around the Cape.”  From such a young age, they would both ask to drive through downtown Rockport, around Halibut Point, through Lanesville, all through downtown Gloucester, past all of the whale watch boats and as much of the fishing fleet as possible,  to Harbor Loop and the Coast Guard Station, to the State Fish Pier and the Grand Isle, through Rocky Neck, past Niles Beach, down to Eastern Point, around the back shore, past Good Harbor Beach, Long Beach, Cape Hedge Beach, and back home.  Along the way, during the 6 years that we’ve been doing this, literally thousands of lessons have been learned.  They learned about tides, lighthouses, the various types of boats in our fleet, the statues (they’ve been particularly fascinated by Joan of Arc), the bell buoys, the entrance buoys, the Independence (which no longer docks behind the Cruiseport and which they sorely miss), the schooners, the boat builders, conservation land, breakwaters, and so, so much more.

I LOVE that my boys love this area.  I am in awe of how much they know and how well they can communicate it all to the people that we meet along the way.  I am so grateful to the fishermen who have invited them aboard their boats, to the Coast Guard members who have given them spontaneous private tours, and police officers and harbor masters who have stopped to say “hello” and answered my boys’ questions (so, so many questions) as if they were the most important questions in the world.  I love that their favorite foods are mussels and sushi and I love that there is nowhere they’d rather be on a warm afternoon than on a boat or sitting at Capt. Carlos, The Seaport Grille, Mile Marker 21, on Rocky Neck, Latitude’s, or Cape Ann Brewery having a snack and rating the boats from their favorite to their least favorite.  I love that Finn looks into the dishwasher and says, “that spinny thing looks like a Furuno” and Thatcher likes to shout, “The sign says NO WAKE, you farmer!”   (Maybe not so polite, but an important lesson none-the-less).

So, yesterday, with hockey having recently ended, we found ourselves with nothing to do.  We enjoyed a yummy breakfast at Flav’s Red Skiff…where the boys love to sit at the counter and talk to Judy.  While waiting for breakfast they studied a map of Cape Ann and found all of their favorite haunts.  After we ate, we drove to Gloucester, parked at St. Peter’s Square and walked to Harbor Loop and back.  Certainly not a long walk, by any stretch of the imagination.  But, somehow, even on this cool, barely spring day, we turned it into almost a 3-hour tour.  At the fine age of 6, Thatcher is still an emerging reader, and my favorite type of torture is making him read boat names.  He pretends to complain when I don’t let him give up, but there’s nothing he’d rather be reading.  Today we read the names of at least 30 boats.  We learned about, Salt, the humpback whale (and practiced some more reading).  Finn reminded me all about lines of latitude and longitude while looking at boats behind Latitude 43. We read about Fitz Hugh Lane and got inspired by stepping into his sandals.  We read many of the signs along the way on the HarborWalk.  We read about the various types of boats in Gloucester’s Coast Guard fleet.  Thatcher taught some tourists about how you can tell what the length of a Coast Guard boat is…..and then taught them about the history of Thacher’s Island when they learned his name is Thatcher.  Finn explained that he wanted to climb up the orca whale’s back and grab onto its dorsal fin…but that he wasn’t going to try to touch the pectoral fins.  They both discussed north, south, east, and west while checking out the new compass rose.  And they taught another lovely couple all about how they haul their own lobster traps, what the “rules” are, and how you tell males from females, and what would be considered a “short”, an “egger”, or a “cull.”

On the walk back to the car it started to rain and we ducked into Turtle Alley for a much deserved Aloha Turtle and piece of rock candy.  Finn told me that he can’t wait for “that day when we eat hotdogs, hold the snakes, and do an art project”….by that he meant the Schooner Festival celebration at the Maritime Center.  Thatcher chimed in and said that he loves the day when “we ride the little train, listen to the music, get our faces painted, and eat fried dough”….by that he meant the Sidewalk Bizarre.  Spring is finally here….summer’s a coming.  Cape Ann is amazing…and life is good.

Makes me want to channel a little Billy Joel.

The iPhone Chronicles by @CraigShoots: Snow day 2-6-14

Click a photo to view gallery.

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