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Resort Cottage Development

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Swallow Cave Rd. and Cliff St.
  • Radar tower (Keith Morgan)

Of the surviving houses built to Cornelius Coolidge's master plan, three deserve mention. The house at 20 Swallow Cave Road may have been built between 1826 and 1828 as Coolidge's own residence and a model for later cottages he built on speculation. Coolidge repeated this pattern of a one-and-a-half-story shingled frame house for many of the early cottages, although this one is the most intact. (Directly opposite the Coolidge House is one of four seven-story concrete radar towers in Nahant, built during World War II for coastal defense.) Samuel Eliot, later mayor of Boston, designed and built his summer home (384 Nahant Road), a Greek temple frame building with a monumental Doric portico, in 1829. After the depression of 1829, building began again slowly in the early 1830s. Between 1832 and 1836, Elizabeth Greene, daughter of artist John Singleton Copley and widow of merchant Gardner Greene, built 44 Cliff Street, a two-and-a-half-story gabled frame cottage, also one of the most intact of the early resort residences.

By the mid-nineteenth century, the elite residents began to build larger houses. George M. Dexter designed the Ebenezer Chadwick House (391 Nahant Road), a two-and-a-half-story stone cottage in 1845, and Luther Briggs planned 35 Cliff Road, an early mansard-roofed frame cottage for Boston lawyer Thomas Dwight c. 1856. Interesting summer residences continued to be built, often replacing earlier buildings that were moved or demolished. The Frank Merriam House, 19 Vernon Street, is one of the finest Colonial Revival houses built in the colony at this time (1888–1889).

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


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Keith N. Morgan, "Resort Cottage Development", [Nahant, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 380-381.

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