Straits Pond was originally a tidal marsh, the eastern most branch of the Weir River Estuary. In early Colonial times, the marsh was dammed and used as a reservoir for the operation of a grist mill built near the existing outlet on Nantasket Avenue in Hull (near the current gate at West Corner). The grist mill was destroyed by a fire in 1800 and rebuilt only to burn onece more in 1840.
Among the first settlers were members of the Lincoln clan who originated in Hingham England. Their property was located at the east end of the Pond which was still part of Hingham. Some of them were buried in a cemetery that was created by their neighbors, the Nichols family near the mouth of Rattlesnake Run. The Lincoln property was passed down until at least the end of the 19th century (see first and last map on this page).
Records indicate the tidal flat produced cord grass and salt-meadow grass. Local farmers used the salt hay made from these grasses to feed their cattle. Capitalizing on the popularity of salt hay, in 1810 the Proprietors of the Straits Pond Flats organized and purchased a large amount of marsh land on the Cohasset side of the pond. The salt hay was harvested in the fall for use as winter mulch and animal feed. Sales of grass existed for at least the period from 1810 through 1828.
Some evidence of an opening to Massachusetts Bay existed at the east end of the Pond at Black Rocks Beach. This seems to be based upon this map from 1798.
The opening shown is consistent with the current low elevations in the southeast corner of the Pond. In 1847, the US Coastal Survey published a nautical chart showing a road running from Forest Ave to the base of Green Hill. The fill required to close the opening would have been on the order of 7,500 cubic yards. Tidal flats covered most of the area of the present Pond and the Weir River (Wear on this map) passed along the south side of the basin.
According to an entry in King’s ‘Handbook of Boston Harbor’, Atlantic Avenue “…was laid out in 1873, and leads from the beach to Nantasket Lake, thence connects with the road to Hingham.” This also ties in with references from the Narrative History of Cohasset written by E. Victor Bigelow, which indicate from 1876-1886 new roads were built, including Doane Street, Forest Avenue, and Atlantic Avenue (from Beach Street to the Cove). Forest Avenue was designed to open for summer residence a large area of land between Straits Pond and North Main Street where King Street enters.
No history of Straits Pond would be complete without at least passing reference to the Black Rock House. The original hotel was built in 1707 as depicted in early paintings. About 1840 a branch line of the stagecoach line went the way of Jerusalem Road. The Black Rock House was a welcome stop for stagecoach passengers, especially for summer visitors who were getting in the habit of coming to Cohasset. After about a century the original Black Rock House burnt to the ground. [Ed. Note: A second building bearing the name Black Rock House was built sometime after the original burnt down and existed until the final Black Rock House was built.] In the 1890’s a new hotel bearing the same name was built at the east end of Straits Pond 100 feet inland of the original site (or what is the present address of 555 Jerusalem Road).
During the Gilded Age, the grand summer estates of wealthy Boston families were established along the shores of Straits Pond. Perhaps most notable among them were the Civil War hero Col Augustus Pope who was the largest manufacturer of bicycles in early America and an early manufacturer of both electric and gasoline autos. Pope’s summer estate, Lyndemere by the Sea ran from the top of the hill on Howe Rd to the Pond. The mansion on Diab Ln is still occupied. The Pope’s built the stone church at West Corner as a memorial to their teenage son who drowned in a sailing accident. The Colonel died his mansion in 1909.
Prepared by C. Anne Murray December, 1999. Update by Nancy E. Kramer, June 2004, Update by Tom Bell Febuary 2021.
Bibliography: Bigelow, E. Victor, Narrative History of Cohasset, West Hanover, Mass., Halliday Lithograph Corporation, 1898. Straits Pond Flats Account of Sales, 1810-1828, Harvard University’s Baker Library Historical Collections. Sweetser, M.F., King’s Handbook of Boston Harbor, Boston, Mass., Moses King’s Corporation, 1888, p. 67. Weeks, Edward, Black Rock House, New England Journeys-Number 3, 1955, p. 63.