Rockport is a small town – not much more than 5,000 people excluding summer visitors – but it has had an outsized impact on the history of this region, and it remains highly influential in fine arts and music with its many art galleries and museums and world-class venues like the Shalin Liu Performance Center and Windhover Performing Arts. I like to think it shares that distinction with Ireland, my home country, which has reshaped Western literature, music, science and the arts the last 250 years despite its wee size.
Perhaps because it punches above its weight culturally, and because it truly is a microcosm of the best features of coastal New England—with its pristine sandy beaches and crystal clear water; its history and carefully preserved 18th and 19th century homes; the incredible hiking and mountain biking trails of Dogtown and water sports at your fingertips from fishing to kayaking to windsurfing—it is the leading destination among buyers seeking quality small town life on the coast relatively close to Boston and Logan Airport.
And why wouldn’t they want to live here? You can take your coffee and stroll Front Beach and watch terns and plovers wheel overhead as the sun rises over Sandy Bay and you gather colorful bits of 200-year old sea glass and crockery. You can amble along Main Street to the shops and restaurants of Dock Square and Bearskin Neck and watch the lobster boats depart from Tuna Wharf for the catch you will eat later that night. You can rent a kayak and paddle out to Straightsmouth Island to visit the restored keeper house with its museum and lighthouse, or paddle over to Thatcher Island to visit the Twin Lights, one of the few double lighthouses still in operation and a national landmark. You can walk the massive granite outcroppings at Halibut Point State Park, one of the largest quarries from the heyday of the town’s granite industry, where the sea breeze freshens even the hottest summer day. You can surf the waves off Cape Hedge or Long Beach, or scuba dive the rocky bays and coves along the coastline that attract divers from all over for their clarity and accessibility. Or you can leave the beaten path behind and venture into the hundreds of acres in Dogtown, the vast and rocky woodlands containing the original settlement of Cape Ann from the early 1600s.
Having lived here for 23 years with my family, one of the biggest touchstones for me in Rockport is the rock that gave the town its name. Granite is literally everywhere you look, from roads, bridges, houses, wharves and jetties to the names of streets and businesses, and it runs through the town’s veins today nearly a century after the industry had waned. Rockport granite was prized for its beautiful gray and green colors (and some pink!) and its durability and imperviousness to staining, and it can be found in landmark buildings all over the world—from Boston’s Custom House to Union Station in DC to the Statue of Liberty.
Even more than fishing, the town’s first industry, granite gave shape to the town’s physical landscape and the character of its residents, descendants of the hardworking Scots, Finns, Swedes, Norwegians, Italians and Eastern Europeans who came here to work the quarries. Artists say the Rockport granite captures and reflects the light like no place else, which is one of the reasons the town is one of the most painted and photographed places in the country. For children in Rockport, the quarries are the best part of living here—for swimming and proving your courage from tall cliffs on hot days in the summer, and for holding parties far from prying adult eyes at any time of year. For the rest of us, the ubiquitous granite is a somehow reassuring backdrop, almost protective in a way. Which is why it is so interesting for our team to be representing the former home of the head of Rockport Granite Company, Harry Rogers, at 23 Granite Street, at the same time that we have a new listing on Doctors Run, which lore says was named for the quickest route for getting to the quarries and across Dogtown to the hospital in Gloucester. Both homes are distinctive in their own ways and part of the mosaic of the granite industry history here.
Browse the available properties in the area below.