When one enters Hingham, one passes by a sign stating ‘Entering Hingham, Est. 1635.’ During those hundreds of years, history has shaped what we’ve come to know and love about Hingham and its distinct neighborhoods, including a special seaside enclave known as Crow Point.
A seaside community-within-a-community, Crow Point is located along the northern tip of town, an area home to over two dozen streets — Jarvis Ave., Foley Beach, Bel Air, and more, each with its own unique and eclectic vibe and history (more on that soon).
The coveted neighborhood features homes of various architectural styles, ranging from beachside bungalows and rambling ranches, to beachfront estates and classic colonials.
A key factor in Crow Point’s desirability is its unbeatable proximity to the ocean and neighborhood beaches. Residents can also relish in an abundance of
majestic seaside views of the Boston skyline and Hingham Harbor. A family-friendly sanctuary, the area features a fantastic atmosphere for kids to ride bikes, run around, and enjoy a variety of water activities.
Once predominantly an industrial haven, Hingham Harbor was at one time replete with shipyards, wharves, salt works, ropewalks, and warehouses. By the 1870s industry was giving way to more leisurely pastimes as steamboat lines were competing to bring Bostonians to experience the vast amusements of Hingham’s Melville Gardens. Crow point, up until that time, had been an idyllic peninsula used mainly as pasture. That was until Samuel Downer of Dorchester bought 43 acres and transformed the point’s fields into a pleasure garden. This was followed by the addition of the hotel Rose Standish House and the Vue de l’Eau Café which graced a new wharf.
A canopied walkway greeted guests coming to visit the flying horses, the dance hall, the clambake pavilion, or the monkey house. And the gas lamps of the Gardens were known to light up the rocks and waters of cove and harbor “like a scene of a fairy land.”
Melville Gardens would eventually lose its caché to newer attractions adorning Nantasket Beach, but it wasn’t long before private sailing boats graced the
waters off Crow point. Founded in 1895, the Hingham Yacht Club opened as a family oriented sailing club and continues to this day in its longstanding
tradition of sailboat racing and training new generations of aspiring sailors.
As for the history of its streets, here are some fun facts that are great conversation pieces for residents and visitors alike:
Mann Street: Called “The Father of Education”, Horace Mann (1796-1859) established the first formal schools in Massachusetts. Mann was close friends
with Mr. Downer.
Howe Street: Named after abolitionist and founder of the Perkins School for the Blind, Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876).
Merrill Street: Named after William Merrill, neighbor and business associate who ran Downer’s Kerosene Company and eventually purchased it.
Parker Driveway: An antislavery advocate and beloved Unitarian Minister, Theodore Parker (1810-1860) raised large sums of money for the cause of human freedom.
Alice Walk: Downer’s fifth daughter, Alice was married to Alex Pope, a well-known artist from Dorchester. Their daughter Charlotte went on to marry Robert Prouty of Hingham. Alice Walk originally led to the entrance of Melville Gardens.
Melville Walk: Grandfather of Downer’s wife, Nancy, Major Thomas Melvil (original spelling) participated in the Boston Tea Party and was a Revolutionary War hero.
Scudder Street: James Scudder was the husband of Downer’s third daughter, Gertrude. He managed Melville Gardens which went from Downer Landing to Parker Drive (now the sea wall path to North Beach). They resided in Sam Downer’s home at 143 Downer Ave.
Cushing Avenue: A civic leader, Charles Cushing was the owner of eight acres of land on Crow Point.