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Adams House

by Harry Wilkinson

In years gone by, the Adams House at Fort Beach was a most popular summer restaurant which grew and grew from very small beginnings to an imposing structure doing a great business. Alas, it all ended with the razing of the building in the spring of 1963 for “luxury living by the sea” condominiums.

Back in 1894 Adams and Stone had started out with a small shack which had only four tables to seat sixteen people. Customers who loved the seafood fare caused an addition to be built and then 48 people could be seated.

The Adams House today is a four-decker condominium…served. In three more years' time another addition came and 148 people at a time could be seated.

Then in 1908 came a brand new building, one story high, painted yellow, which could handle 168 customers. It boasted having the largest electric sign in the town, with letters 30 inches high.

In those early days when fresh fish from the harbor was so plentiful and lobsters were in abundance, the prices would run to 10¢ a plate for delicious fried clams, and lobster 15¢ an order, with a complete fish dinner priced at only 50¢. Chowders and all fish dinners were highly enjoyed by the great number of people who came to town daily during the summer months. The electric street cars had their terminal within a stone’s throw of the restaurant, and throngs of people alighted and headed for the Adams House.

John T. Adams, prominent town citizen and once Fire Chief, had his third building erected in 1923, and this new restaurant then had the capacity of 312. Many times, on weekends especially, 1600 a day were served by efficient waitresses.

Famous VIPs like Sir Thomas Lipton of yachting fame, the Spanish King Alfonso and others of note were customers, along with lots of the stage-screen stars who played at the high school summer theater over

… but in its heydey, it was one of the most stately and popular sites on Marblehead Harbor …

several seasons. Lots of them gave out interviews and with many banquets and special events the restaurant became widely known around the country. All visitors seemed to want “to eat at the famous Adams House” with its grand view of the harbor out of 35-foot high windows. The table linen was especially ordered from Scotland with pictures of the Adams House woven into the fabric.

I recall many a Royal Blue line sight-seeing bus from Boston stopping there on an evening and hungry riders filing into the restaurant. There was a large parking space available right across the street for the convenience of the autoists.

When the Adams House was filled to capacity there was the Annex, a large white building located near the entrance to Fort Sewall. 120 more diners could be handled there. After the Annex discontinued as a restaurant, Mary Snow Upton for a time had her gift shop on the premises. Later on, Mrs. Emma Kinsley

… even its overflow companion is now jsut more condominiums, signaling Marblehead's inexorable march to its bedroom-community destiny.

took over the building and had it converted into modern apartments as we see there today.

In its last two years of operation the Adams House was operated by the Bresnahans, and then they sold the property to HFM Realty Corporation in April of 1963. Soon the building was knocked down by the wreckers and leveled off to make way for the present day $275,000 four story apartment building with its16 units, with elevator service and a parking area nearby.

Many an old time resident hated to see the demise of the well known land mark, just as they were saddened to see the demolition of the Rockmere Hotel, the New Fountain Inn, the old Leslie Hotel, the former Boston Yacht Club, and the Boston & Marine railroad unit uptown.


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