The Pavilion, built in 1849 for Sidney Mason, was Gloucester's first summer resort hotel. Mason was a patron of Lane, and he commissioned him to paint three views of scenes of his mercantile successes: New York Harbor, San Juan [Saint John] Harbor, and Gloucester Harbor, 1852 (inv. 38), in which the hotel, with all its porches, towers and tracery, is a prominent feature. Mason himself helped the architect S. Charles Bugbee design the building, that was then constructed by White and Winchester. A grist windmill, originally owned by Ignatius Webber and then by Sidney Mason's father, John Mason, had stood on the hill since 1814, but, in preparation for the Pavilion Hotel, was moved to the inner-harbor side of the old Fort and eventually burned in 1877. Both the windmill and the Fort can be seen in several Lane harbor paintings and drawings.
Sidney Mason lived in New York City at this time but was closely connected to his home town of Gloucester and owned another, traveler's hotel, the Gloucester House. But the Pavilion brought in an entirely new and different type of visitor to the fishing and trading town of Gloucester. The railroad from Boston had reached Salem in 1839 and Gloucester in November 1847. This not only led to Lane's return to Gloucester after his fifteen year residence in Boston, it also facilitated an influx of summer people. Before this time, a combination of stagecoaches, ferries, steamers and trains was needed to make the trip. Now, the wealthy from New York and Philadelphia could travel easily to Gloucester, as well as to other North Shore communities.
The hotel was not isolated from the business of the town. Next door to the west was one of the several long ropewalks in town. It was built by Ignatius Webber in 1803 and produced many of the miles of hemp rope and twine needed in the maritime trading and fishing trades. To the east, along the beach, were flake yards, where acres of split cod and other fish were laid out to dry in the sun. Lane did not include these in his painting. Nor is there any sign of tension between the tourist hotel and the local inhabitants and industries.
The Pavilion Hotel offered spectacular views and walks, both coastal and inland, and bathing was available all along the public beach that stretched to the Fort. The hotel itself was advertised as elegant, with luxurious sitting rooms, gas lighting and modern conveniences. Its first years were not entirely successful under the management of Dr. H.T. Haughey, once manager of Delaware's Brandywine Springs. But in 1852, Col. Abijah Peabody, manager of Mason's other hotel, the Gloucester House, took over the Pavilion and it flourished.
The Pavilion Hotel grounds were used during the Civil War as a recruiting office. It became the Surfside Hotel, and burned on Saturday, October 17, 1914. It was soon replaced by the Tavern, and that building still exists although no longer as a hotel and without the elegance and architectural flare of the original Pavilion.
Current address: 28–30 Western Avenue, The Tavern.
– Sarah Dunlap (September, 2013)