Welcome to the Swampscott MA GenWeb

Swampscott, a beach town north of Boston, Massachusetts, abutting Salem, Marblehead and Lynn was an important destination for the wealthy at the beginning of the 20th century; while Revere Beach, which lies just several miles down the road, has the honour of technically being America's first public beach, Swampscott was the defacto first resort town. Lynn (also known as the "city of sin," because it was laden with speak-easies during prohibition) was the divider between the poor beach and the rich resort town. The name 'Swampscott' comes from the language of a local native American tribe. The following is verbatim from the official Swampscott web page: "History of Swampscott."[1]

Early historical accounts of Swampscott indicated that the Native Americans, referred to as Naumkeags, came to what was called the "land of the red rock" in the seventeenth century to fish and hunt.

Originally part of the large Saugus land grant and later the eastern part of Lynn’s Ward One, Swampscott was settled and established in 1629 when Francis Ingalls came and built the first Massachusetts Bay Colony tannery on Humphrey’s Brook. Long known as a seafaring fishing village, Swampscott hosted a large commercial fishing fleet which sailed daily from our protected bay. Long known as a seafaring fishing village, Swampscott hosted a large commercial fishing fleet which sailed daily from our protected bay. Early accounts of Swampscott considered it a “community of modest means” and indicated that one man in three was a fisherman. Of the rest, a goodly number were shoemakers (also known as "cordwainers"), shoe cutters (known as "clickers"), yeomen or farmers and merchants.

In the late 1700s, Ebenezer Phillips learned the dry fish process from the Naumkeags and set up a processing facility for cod whereby the cod was dried, put in barrels and shipped all over the world. Phillips’ business was a success and he became one of this country's first millionaires.

Ninety-seven petitioners filed a request to the Massachusetts Court to separate from the city of Lynn and eventually the legislature passed an enabling act which authorized the organization of a separate town government under the date of May 21, 1852. On October 9, 1852 Lynn was paid $5,450.00 for the land it lost to the new community now known as the Town of Swampscott. In 1857 land at the far western edge of Salem known as the “Salem Finger” was annexed to Swampscott bringing the total land area to 3.05 square miles.

Aside from its fishing heritage, Swampscott has become one of the prime summer vacation spots along the coast of Massachusetts.

The town also hosts a wide variety of historical homes and buildings . For example, John Humphrey, the first deputy governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, lived in an attractive saltbox home in 1637 which is now home to the Swampscott Historical Society at 99 Paradise Road and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Stately homes which evolved in Swampscott include Professor Elihu Thomson’s Georgian revival mansion with its unique and ornate interior carvings. Professor Thomson founded the Thomson-Houston Electric Company which is now the General Electric Company. The building, designed by James T. Kelley, now serves as the Town Administration Building and is also listed on the National Historic Register.

Information Source: Wikipedia


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