Annals of Camden, part X
I promised you this information on Rockport village, as seen in 1894 by Col. Nathan Fletcher.
At that time, when entering the village, as you pass along in a northeasterly direction, the first object that meets your eye is the Hoboken schoolhouse. It was a modern structure and spacious enough for the wants of the district. It spoke well for the people and the youths that gathered there. Today it is the Hoboken Garden Center. A story I heard long ago was that there was a school on the right side of the hill going down Union Street. The building is still there today being used for other purposes. It was said when the Hoboken School was built, it got its name because it was across Goose River and the pupils on the hill called it Hoboken, as if the new school was in New Jersey. Sounds a little far-fetched, but that is one story.
When you reached the bridge that spans the Goose River stream, you enter the main business street of Rockport Village. In Fletcher’s words: ”You see a large sombre looking block of two stories in height, used for stores and dwellings, but has more of the appearance of some dreary prison house or Bastille, where dangerous prisoners, are kept for security, to prevent injuring themselves or others. It was built many years ago by Joseph Huse, a popular physician of this town, whose foresight did not extend much beyond his nose, and in his wildest dreams never imagined that the Village of Rockport would in a few years extend her borders for miles, and enclose an area of land sufficient for a populous city. Ere many years have been swallowed up in the vortex of time, the municipal authorities will be under the necessity of ordering the removal to widen the street, and to erect a more imposing structure in its rear. On winding around this dreary looking building, the eye rests upon a handsome and more imposing block of brick buildings, and the contrast so great that it makes us almost forget the architecture of the dark ages of the one and cause us to pause and view the neat modern style of the other. The block is three stories in height, and spacious enough to convene the large business transacted by Carleton, Norwood & Co., and their sons and for a spacious hall for the accommodation of the town, called Union Hall. The next block was built by the late Alexander Martin, who for many years was postmaster at Rockport, and never did the citizens of that village have a more faithful and honest public servant. In the second story is the residence of Edward A. Martin, who does an extensive business in the grocery line, and in the third story St Paul’s lodge Free and accepted Masons hold their regular meetings. Talbot, Rust & Gould occupy the next store and there you will find one of the most extensive stocks of merchandise kept in Knox county, of all kinds and descriptions from a cargo of ice at their wharves to the finest lumber for the architects’ use, iron kettles to terra cotta service for a gentlemen’s table; from the finest fabric to the coarsest material for the laborer. In this block is also the Savings Bank, an institution of which Camden is justly proud. You see Rockport’s hives of industry, and more especially take a view of that splendid ship which I see looming up in the distance on the stocks, for I have a fancy for trim ships, well modeled, with a good cutwater, a clean run, and which leaves no deadwater in her wake. The Carleton Ice Company occupies the northern store in this block. The post office is on the western side of the street, opposite this fine block. Up the street, a few rods distant, stands the Carleton House, the only public house in Rockport of modern style and a gem.”(It was located where the Rockport library is today.)
Fletcher mentions that at that point three roads branch off in different directions.
When he turns right and goes along the shore road to the harbor, he mentions the residence of Dr. H. B. Eaton, Alexander Pascal, David Talbot, N.T. Talbot and J.H. Gould. On Beauchamp Point, which was then called McIntire’s point there were homes belong to Jeremiah McIntire, Capt. John McIntire and William Rollins. Then there was the Rollin’s Farm situated on the bay and owned by the Sheppard family, upon which is a lime quarry. Col. Fletcher refers to “Tupper’s Bluff,” which serves as a landmark for the line of the road, as it winds around from the east to southwesterly direction to the village of Rockport. We then come to the estate of the late Daniel Barrett, who was a man of great energy, and left the impression of his genius as an engineer in the construction of the Turnpike by the mountainside between this town and Lincolnville. (I believe that farm is now owned by the Chatfield’s and the Belted Galloway’s.) Fletcher thought the town should have bought it for a park and says:
“I know of no place in Camden so well adapted for this purpose. It is about half way between the two villages, extends from the main road to the bay, along which stretches a fine gravelly beach, from which the visitor would have a fine view of the bay and the adjacent islands as from any point along the shore. It is a level plot of ground, as one can sit in his carriage and drive over every acre of it.”
According to Fletcher’s writing, that next is the land of the Huguenots, who settled upon that farm, when Camden was unknown to the outside world. He is referring to the Ogier family, who settled on what was known as Ogier Point and included land on upper Chestnut and, Bay View streets, as well as the Lily Pond property.
At this point Col. Fletcher mentions Stonyhurst, the fine summer residence of Mr. Alfred M. Judson of New York and on whom he stops to call and pay his respects. (That particular home burned years ago, but the caretaker’s cottage is the stone house on the hill before you go down upper Chestnut Street.)
The center road by the Carleton House was Union Street, of course. There was a sidewalk the whole way of nearly two miles. The street was lined with pleasant cottages, and there was an excellent view of the Lily Pond. Another view was of the quarries of Carleton, Norwood & Co., of G. F. Burgess and others. Those are now the Transfer Station (formerly known as the dump.)
I hope you enjoyed your tour of Rockport of over 100 years ago. Next week will be about the fish hatchery.
Barbara Dyer is Camden's official town historian.