Swampscott, Massachusetts

Swampscott is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, located 15 miles (24 km) up the coast from Boston in an area known as the North Shore. The town’s name is derived from the language of a local Native American tribe, from a word meaning “red rock.” Swampscott today is known as an affluent residential community, which includes the village of Beach Bluff, as well as part of the neighborhood of Clifton. Also known for its quiet suburban character and beaches, the town is home to Marian Court College.

Swampscott was first settled in 1629 as the eastern part (Ward One) of Lynn. From its fishing interests, Swampscott attained worldwide status as the place where Ebenezer Thorndike invented the lobster pot in 1808, thereby revolutionizing lobster harvesting. The Swampscott Dory, a fishing boat still in use throughout the world today, was invented in 1840 by Ralfus Brackett, to row and to pull lobster pots. Because of its unique flat-bottomed design, the dory was considered the vessel of choice.

Swampscott is the site of a variety of homes of specific historical significance. In the early 1600s, John Humphreys, the first deputy governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, for example, lived in an attractive saltbox residence, now home to the Swampscott Historical Society. Another noted example of local architecture is Professor Elihu Thomson’s Georgian revival mansion, which now serves as the town hall.

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