Nahant Massachusetts, 1890
Nahant is a noted sea-girt town, consisting of three sections, almost islands, connected with each other and with the mainland by a curious series of level sandy beaches, some of which are long enough for delightful drives. It forms the east side of Lynn harbor, and the west and south sides of Nahant Bay. The area is 500 acres; and the peninsula which connects it with Lynn is two miles in length, or about one and a half miles to Little Nahant, a village on an expansion of the neck northward.
Long Bench is on the north side of the peninsula; next eastward is Little Nahant Beach, succeeded in the circuit of the town by Joseph's Pond, Lewis' and Coral beaches. Between these are East Point, John's Peril (point), Spouting Rock, Hood's, Cedar and East points; and westward, on the south side, are Bass Rock, Dorothy's Cove, Bass Point at the southwest, and Black Rock on the west. Pea and Shag islands lie near on the south of the eastern extremity; while north of it is Egg Rock with its light house. The principal rock is sienite. At the southeast this rises into a bold promontory about 100 feet in height, called Bailey's, or, later, Nahant Hill. Castle Rock, Pulpit Rock, Irene's Grotto, in this vicinity, are striking and attractive objects. Another wild and grotesque feature is '"Spouting Horn," at the northern extremity of the shore. Through this, in storms, the sea breaks with tremendous violence. Near by is the Swallows' Cove, another interesting spot.
There are but six farms in the town, and these are devoted chiefly to the dairy and greenhouse; the value of their entire product being set down in the last census report as $11,690. The number of fishermen was five, and the product, principally herring, mackerel and lobsters, was $9,062. The town is mainly a place of summer residence and entertainment. Many elegant mansions have been erected here by the citizens of Boston and other cities, who spend their summers in this delightful place. They are surrounded by ornamental trees and shrubbery, and command fine prospects of the ocean.
Nahant was discovered by Captain John Smith in 1614, who named it on his map, "The Fullerton Islands." The Indian name is Nahantean, signifying " twins." The first dwelling-house was erected here in 1673; and the second settler was James Mills; for whose beautiful daughter Dorothy Cove was named. In 1817, the Hon. Thomas H. Perkins erected a beautiful cottage here; and a little later the Hon. Frederic Tudor, who opened the ice trade in this country, came here to reside. He subsequently fitted up a romantic spot, and gave it the name of " Maolis " (Siloam transposed), which attracts many visitors. Neptune's Temple, in these gardens, is a beautiful retreat, shaded by balm of Gilead trees, and affording a flue view of Lynn, Swampscott and Marblehead, together with the sea-beaten Egg Rock, its lighthouse and the open sea, It is supported by eight pillars of unhewn stone. Underneath is the Witches' Cave, which, it is said, served as a shelter for several persons during the persecutions for witchcraft in 1692.
The town was formerly a part of Lynn, from which it was set off and incorporated, March 29, 1853. There are two school-houses, valued at some $7,000, occupied by the primary and grammar schools; the high school being accommodated in the town-hall. The Nahant public library has about 7,000 volumes. The church edifices are Methodist, Roman Catholic and Union. The population is 637, of whom 146 are legal voters. The dwellings number 293. The valuation of the town in 1888 was $4,857,731; with a tax-rate of $6 on $1,000. The place is reached in the summer by regular boats from Boston, and at all seasons by barges and other conveyances over the excellent beach-road to Lynn.
pp. 479-480 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890