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Historical Materials: Gloucester Buildings & Businesses

Historical Materials  »  Gloucester Buildings & Businesses  »  Rogers's (George H.) wharves

You have navigated to this pages from catalog entry: The Old Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 30)

Rogers's (George H.) wharves

View related Fitz Henry Lane catalog entries (14) »

George H. Rogers was one of Gloucester's most enterprising citizens of the mid-nineteenth century. In the early 1830s, he ventured into the Surinam trade with great success, leading him to acquire a wharf at the foot of Sea Street. Due to Harbor Cove's shallow bottom at low tide, berthings at wharves had to be done at high tide, leaving the ships grounded at other times. Many deep-loaded vessels had to anchor outside Harbor cove and be partially off-loaded by "lighters" (shallow-draft vessels that could transfer cargo to the wharves) before final unloading at wharfside. To lessen this problem, Rogers had an unattached extension built out from his wharf into deeper water (see The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester (Harbor Scene), 1848 (inv. 58), right middle ground). The space between the old wharf and the extension may have been a way to evade harbor regulations limiting how far a pier head could extend into the harbor. Stricter rules were not long in coming after this happened!

About 1848, Rogers acquired land on the east end of Fort Point, first putting up a large three-story building adjacent to Fort Defiance, then a very large wharf jutting out into Harbor Cove. Lane's depictions of Harbor Cove and Fort Point show progress of this construction in 1848 (The Fort and Ten Pound Island, Gloucester (Harbor Scene), 1848 (inv. 58)), 1850 (Gloucester Inner Harbor, 1850 (inv. 240)), and c.1851 (Gloucester Harbor (not published)). A corner of the new wharf under construction can also be seen more closely in Ten Pound Island, Gloucester, 1850s (inv. 17) and Ten Pound Island in Gloucester Harbor, 1864 (inv. 104) (foregrounds). This new wharf provided better frontage for large ships to load and unload, as well as larger warehouses and lofts for storage of goods and vessel gear.

By 1860, Rogers was unloading his Surinam cargos at Boston, as ever-larger ships and barks were more easily berthed there. His  Gloucester wharves continued to be used for deliveries of trade goods by smaller vessels. In the late 1860s, Rogers' wharf at Fort Point (called "Fort Wharf" in Gloucester directories) was acquired by (Charles D.) Pettingill & (Nehemiah) Cunningham for use in "the fisheries" as listed by the directory. in 1876, it was sold to (John J.) Stanwood & Company, also for use in "the fisheries." (1)

Lowe's Wharf, adjacent to Fort Wharf, was acquired by (Sylvester) Cunningham & (William) Thompson, c.1877 and used in "the fisheries" as well. That wharf and its buildings were enlarged considerably as the business grew. By this time, Harbor Cove was completely occupied by businesses in the fisheries or providing services and equipment to the fishing fleet. In photographs of Fort Point from this period, it is difficult to distinguish one business from another, so closely are they adjoined.

– Erik Ronnberg

Reference:

1. A city atlas, dated 1899, indicates that Rogers's wharf at Fort Point was still listed as part of his estate. If so, then Stanwood & Co. would have been leasing that facility from the Rogers's estate. 

Related tables: Fort (The) and Fort Point »  //  Rogers, George H. »  //  Waterfront, Gloucester »

map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Harbor Cove)
H.F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

Segment of Harbor Village portion of map showing Low's, Rogers', and other wharves in the Inner Harbor.

map
1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail of Harbor Parish)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
Henry Francis Walling, Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Essex Co. Massachusetts. Philadelphia, A. Kollner, 1851
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

1851 Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport (detail showing wharves)
H. F. Walling
1851
44 x 34 in.
John Hanson, Publisher
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

"Map of the Towns of Gloucester and Rockport, Massachusetts. H.F. Walling, Civil Engineer. John Hanson, Publisher. 1851. Population of Gloucester in 1850 7,805. Population of Rockport in 1850 3,213."

map
1865 Commissioners' Map of Gloucester Harbor Massachusetts
A. Boschke
1865
41 x 29 inches
Courtesy of the Massachusetts Archives
Maps and Plans, Third Series Maps, v.66:p.1, no. 2352, SC1/series 50X

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photo (historical)
View from Belmont House, of a fishing wharf, with the Old Fort of 1812 opposite
William A. Elwell
1876
Photograph
Cape Ann Museum Library & Archive

Ignatius Weber's windmill (now defunct) is shown.

Citation: "Gloucester Buildings & Businesses." Fitz Henry Lane Online. Cape Ann Museum. http://fitzhenrylaneonline.org/historical_material/index.php?type=Gloucester+Buildings+%26+Businesses§ion=Rogers%27s+%28George+H.%29+wharves&ref=catalog:30 (accessed April 30, 2017).
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