An online project under the direction of the CAPE ANN MUSEUM
Manchester-by-the-Sea is located on Cape Ann in Essex County, Massachusetts. Incorporated in 1645, Manchester has many beaches and coves, including Manchester Harbor, and several small islands off the coast. Dubbed the Gold Coast in the nineteenth century, it became a summer destination for "rusticators", wealthy families escaping the heat of their residences in Boston, Philadelphia and New York. Among these was the famous shipbuilder and merchant Robert Bennet Forbes, who built a summer house, Masconomo, in the area known as Newport Beach in 1847. Lane painted portraits of vessels built and owned by Forbes, the "Massachusetts" and the steam bark "Antelope".
Manchester Historical Museum
In 1856 Robert Bennet Forbes bought nineteen acres of land for $2,800 from Israel F. Tappan in the section of the West Manchester shore known in those days as Newport. There he built Masconomo, named for the sagamore of the Agawam. In her unpublished letters to her son Robert, his wife Rose Greene Forbes wrote:
"...I think Father will put up a good sized cheap summer house, rough pillars, pine furniture etc., and very likely we shall all be there for two months next summer. He means to show people how rational people ought to live at the seaside. What nice times we shall have..."
The house was sold to Benjamin G. Boardman in 1865.