The U.S. Life-Saving Service built the Nahant Station, one of 31 in Massachusetts by 1900, to house a crew of seven or eight lifesavers engaged in rescuing victims of coastal wrecks. The crew kept a lookout from the station's tower by day and patrolled the shore around Nahant at night. When a wreck was sighted, they rowed the station's surfboat to rescue the ship's crew and cargo. In 1915, the newly created U.S. Coast Guard absorbed the Life-Saving Service, which by the 1920s was using motorized lifeboats.
Although most stations were built from standardized plans, the Nahant Station was unique, the design of Victor Mendelheff, an architect who began working with the service in 1896. The four-story tower gives the white-painted shingled building landmark quality; the nearby four-bay structure housed the lifeboats. The station was deactivated in 1964 and in 1999 transferred to the Town of Nahant.