The Hotel Era: Hampton Beach, 1800-1897
HAMPTON: A CENTURY OF TOWN AND BEACH, 1888-1988
After the Reverend Stephen Bachiler and his followers came to Hampton in 1638, they had neither the time nor the inclination to wander the sands of the barrier island we now know as Hampton Beach. The life of early Hampton was centered upriver near the Landing, where the settlers had their homes and fields. The river provided fin and shellfish and the marsh supplied hay, but, from the time of the early settlers through the beginning of the nineteenth century, the shoreline was used primarily by fishermen who built shacks and kept their boats at North Beach or by farmers who used Great Boar's Head and the adjacent marsh, known as the Great Ox Common, as pasture for their cattle. Sometimes the farmers gathered seaweed to use as fertilizer and mulch, but the sandy land between Boar's Head and the river remained empty and probably looked similar to today's Plum Island National Wildlife Refuge, south of the Merrimack River.
In his History of the Town of Hampton, Joseph Dow described the beach: "South of Boar's Head, the shore, for a considerable distance, is covered with large rocks, submerged at high water; and, beyond this, there stretches a long reach of hard, sandy beach, furnishing an exceptionally fine drive-course and promenade. Back of the rocky portion, and for some considerable distance farther the land is arable; while high sand dunes form a background to the smooth beach, separating it from the salt marshes that border the river and extend far up into the town."
Although Hampton was best known as a farming community, the fishing industry was important and it was responsible for the beginning of the hotel business. High land at the foot of Nook Lane (now High Street) and the somewhat sheltered Plaice Cove provided the early fishermen with a good location to build their shacks and keep their boats. Using hand lines and with two or three men to a so-called Hampton dory, the fishermen sailed or rowed daily to offshore grounds, and their catch was often substantial. By the end of the eighteenth century, a thriving business developed with inland traders, who came to Hampton, usually in winter with huge sleighs, and bought frozen, and perhaps dried and salted, fish for resale as far away as northern Vermont and Canada.
In 1800, John Elkins built what is considered to be the first Hampton Beach dwelling at Nut Island, a bit of high land between today's High Street and Cusack Road. Two years later, Elkins, who Dow says was a teacher and lived with the Shakers at Canterbury, sold the house to a young Hampton entrepreneur, 28-year-old Moses Leavitt, who, with his wife, Molly, turned the building into "a house of entertainment" to service the fishmongers. Formerly a tailor, Leavitt ran the house and later bought the old Tuck Grist Mill on High Street, which he replaced with the restored structure that still stands today. The fishing business eventually declined, but people began to have more leisure time, so, after Moses's death in 1846 his son Amos and grandsons Jacob and Moses expanded the one-story house into a substantial inn with a large following of summer tourists. In a letter to the Hampton Union editor in 1952, Frank E. Leavitt said that his great-grandfather Moses Leavitt did not take in boarders and the property was not used as such until after Moses died in 1846, when Frank's grandfather, Amos, expanded the original house and began to take in overnight guests in 1865. Possibly Dow's phrase, "house of entertainment," meant that Moses Leavitt served drinks and meals, not that he provided sleeping accommodations, except perhaps in the barn. Frank Leavitt, who was born in 1873, said the first boardinghouses, as described below, were at Boar's Head. The original Leavitt barn, where the fishmongers once stabled their horses, became the Barn Theater in the 1930s. Most recently, the old structure was the Barn Motel and Restaurant, but it was torn down in 1988 and replaced with condominiums.
Farther down the beach at the base of Boar's Head, Daniel Lamprey built a house in 1806 near the present location of the Century House Motel. Lamprey apparently loved the ocean, for, at age 60, he left his uptown farm to be run by his wife and children and moved into the small house. Asked why he did not build higher up on the Head, Lamprey replied, "So as not to frighten the sea-fowl." At that time, according to the Exeter News-Letter, immense flocks flew over that location every spring and autumn. About the time of Lamprey's death in 1812, the house was operated for a number of years as a small inn by his son Jeremiah. Lamprey advertised his hospitality with a sign reading, "Rum, Gin, Wine, Brandy, Bathing and Showering."
Lamprey's nephew Uri would recall, "Uncle Jerry was a character, a merry fellow who loved rum more than anything else. But Jerry had a fine family and they kept him afloat. In his day, fish, lobsters, and clams were aplenty and he served well at low cost." Jerry was famous for his rum punch and eggnog, which were popular with the farmers who came with their families to the Beach for a day and who probably comprised the majority of the first summer visitors. The farmers' visits became organized and an annual Farmer's Day event, first held in 1886, was celebrated for many years into the early part of this century. Officially called the State Agricultural Field Day, this was probably the beginning of the convention business that was to sustain the Beach economically until midcentury.
The first hotel at Boar's Head, and possibly the first seaside hotel north of Boston, was built in 1819, on the site of today's Rocky Bend Condominiums, and opened the following year by Abraham Marston, Jr., and Amos Towle III. Called "The Winnisimmet" or "Winnicumet House," this "resort" hotel gives Hampton the distinction of being one of America's first summer recreational centers. The rough pathway between Winnacunnet (then known as the Causeway) Road and Boar's Head was improved about 1821, perhaps in response to the traffic generated by the new hotel. Marston and Towle leased their two-story, hip-roofed hotel to Richard Greenleaf in 1823 and 1824, but, when Marston drowned in 1827, the property was sold to Thomas Leavitt, who was married to Marston's sister Polly. Leavitt later added a third story and for a while the place was run by his brother-in-law, Uri Lamprey. We often think that the idea of people coming to the Beach in the early spring is recent, but one year the rent for this hotel was paid in full by May. Hunting and fishing attracted transient parties to these early hotels, and, because there was no easy way to make the reservations, landlords had to be ready for guests at all times. Sometimes a full coach would arrive late at night with guests. The Winnicumet had an open top story with four double beds for housing "eight young men." The building burned in 1854 amid charges of arson since the well-bucket rope appeared to have been cut. Leavitt chose not to rebuild although he did continue his business in the "cottage" farther up the road.
About 1824-25, Hampton businessman David Nudd bought Jerry Lamprey's small inn and built the second hotel in the area, the Hampton Beach Hotel, on the summit of the promontory. Nudd organized a company of stockholders and opened the hotel to the public in 1827 under the management of Nathaniel Tyler of Newburyport. Nudd advertised that the new hotel offered "the finest facilities for fishing and fowling that can be found in the United States." It was managed by Nudd's son Joseph for a few years until the latter drowned in the river in 1847. The hotel was called "The Folly Castle" by local people and was later named the Boar's Head Hotel. Nudd offered 29/40 of the property for sale in 1829, but he apparently had no takers, for eventually he bought out the remaining shares and owned the building until his death in 1858. Nudd was one of Hampton's most remarkable and wealthiest citizens during the first half of the nineteenth century. While Nudd did not begin the resort industry at Hampton Beach, he and his family became the leading innkeepers in the early years and family members remained active in the business through the 1950s.
Judge Thomas Leavitt described Nudd in the Exeter News-Letter. "He was, as I recall him, a thick-set man of elderly appearance. He had one peculiarity, he was never seen on foot outside of his own door yard. He was always seen when away from his door yard, driving his horse and open wagon, reins in his right hand and his left arm stretched over the seat." Leavitt recalled that Nudd had a habit of asking all sorts of men for advice about his own business affairs, and might be seen talking to any man, anywhere in town, at any time. This led Leavitt to assume that Nudd asked for advice merely to flatter the other men, since many of those questioned had little apparent business skill. However, Edward Tuck, Nudd's grandson, who read Leavitt's historical column in the paper, wrote from Paris to explain that after Nudd's death a handwritten motto was found in his desk. It read, "Take counsel of him who is greater and of him who is less than thyself; then refer to thine own judgment."
Two men with whom Nudd did not speak were his nephew, Jerry Nudd, and Judge Leavitt's father, Thomas. The men apparently had some sort of feud with Nudd and were not friendly, One June day, though, Nudd drove his wagon hurriedly along the beachfront and into the yard of Leavitt's hotel, where he pointed to the sea and said something to Leavitt. Nudd had seen two men in the water beside a turned-over boat off the river mouth and went to Leavitt's with an alarm. Three men at the hotel quickly rowed a boat to the men and rescued them. One of those saved, although unconscious at the time, was Jerry Nudd. After being brought to the hotel and revived, Jerry Nudd told his story and then asked how the men came to be rescued. On being told that David had given the alarm, Leavitt wrote to Jerry "...turned upon his side, his face away, and lay perfectly still for ten minutes. Then he looked up and said 'Mrs. Leavitt, I shall have to speak now to old Uncle Dave, shant I? I must, mustn't I, to be decent? Well, I will."' Jerry was as good as his word and on that day the feud ended. The senior Leavitt and David Nudd also spoke to each other whenever they met.
Nudd owned about ten schooners, used for fishing and for trading with Boston, and became a partner with David Chase of Seabrook, who owned and managed a similar number of vessels. Between 1827 and 1840, Nudd built and operated a saltworks just east of the Landing, using the salt to cure fish caught by his vessels. Years later, in the early 1930s, when he was in his nineties, James Warren Perkins remembered Nudd's saltworks: "The receptacles for the salt water were elevated above the ground about three feet. They were fifteen feet square and 3 inches deep. Each had a roof so that fresh water from the rains would be carried off and not retard the evaporation. The salt water was pumped via a windmill located about one hundred yards down river." In 1823, Nudd organized the group of proprietors who built Nudd's Canal, which cut two-and-a-half miles off the trip from the mouth of the river to the Landing.
Since most commerce was conducted by shipping, Nudd's storehouse and office at the Landing was probably the center of Hampton's business activity until the railroad arrived in the 1840s. In those days, travelers to Boston often came to the Landing to send their luggage or packages by one of Nudd's boats, but the travelers usually went separately by wagon or, in the case of young men, often walked to Boston. Next to Nudd's shipyard at the Landing was another operated by Captain John Johnson. From here, Captain Jonathan Godfrey loaded his vessels with Hampton-grown corn for shipment to Boston markets. During the late 1800s, Nudd's office building was moved across the frozen marsh to Boar's Head, where members of the Nudd family and their tenants lived until 1947, when the house was moved up to Winnacunnet Road adjacent to the telephone company building. When the latter facility was expanded in 1966, the Nudd house was moved again, this time to Landing Road, next to the entrance to the town dump. When the Nudd house was sold in 1966, Carl C. Bragg, a descendant of David Nudd's, was the real estate salesman who handled the sale of the house. In the cellar of the house were many of the old registers from the Nudd hotels on Boar's Head, which were given to Bragg and preserved.
Another Nudd property at Boar's Head was the Eagle House, built in 1830 for his son Willard and still standing as the Century House Motel. Dow noted that the house had been maintained on strict temperance principles since 1860. The property, probably the oldest remaining house at the Beach, remained in the Nudd family until the death of Caroline Bell Nudd in 1956. Nudd built another Boar's Head hotel, the Granite, and used timbers from his defunct saltworks in the construction. A longtime manager of the Granite Hotel was Alfred J. Batchelder, who married Nudd's daughter Mary.
Nudd and his wife, Abigail, had eleven children, and while he provided three of his four sons with the hotels, his daughter Sarah may have been the most fortunate sibling, for she married Hampton Academy principal Amos Tuck, who became a wealthy lawyer, congressman, and founder of the Republican party. Their son, Edward, became an international banker and financier. Although he was an Exeter native and lived in Paris, Edward Tuck was one of Hampton's and New Hampshire's most generous benefactors.
Another famous early Beach building, and for many years the most southerly dwelling, was constructed by David Nudd's nephew Thomas Nudd in 1826. Nudd, and later his son Oliver, served meals, rented rooms, and charged day visitors 25 cents to care for their horses while the family played along the seashore, swimming, fishing, and picnicking. The various Mrs. Nudds were known widely for their cooking and especially for chowder. The Reverend Roland Sawyer and his wife honeymooned for a week at Nudd's in 1898, and it was still the last house on the shore. Reverend Sawyer did say that John W. Locke had a store and saloon (which burned in November 1899) out on the marsh, and there was a path to the beach where the farmers sometimes raced their horses. Oliver Nudd, who had been a fishing-boat captain and a farmer, built another summer guest place that became known as the "Bread and Cheese House" because of the eating habits of its guests. The Nudd Homestead remained as a small inn for many years and eventually was acquired by Kenneth Ross, whose mother was the daughter of Oliver Nudd. Although horse stabling finally ended, the family reputation in the transportation business was continued with Kenneth Ross's automobile garage. In 1971, the old house was moved in two sections to North Shore Road and renovated as a home for the Reverend Robert W. Golledge, Vicar of the Old North Church of Boston. An ell was moved to Hampton Falls for a workshop for Granville W. Curtis.
Although the Beach had few attractions other than natural surroundings, it soon became a popular destination. In August 1831, the steamboat Tom Thumb offered a round-trip voyage from Portsmouth to Hampton Beach, including chowder, for one dollar. In 1838, the steamer Portsmouthadvertised round trips to Boar's Head, with a band but no chowder, at 25 cents for adults and half price for children under 10. Others came to camp along the beach or the marsh and got their water from Oliver Nudd's well. In 1857, a stagecoach from Portsmouth was making regular runs to Rye and Hampton Beach.
In the January 13, 1843, edition of the Farmer's Monthly Visitor,"Robert" wrote about "Hampton Beach, Fish Chowder and Something Else." The writer was visiting the Beach with family members because, as his Uncle Jacob said, "We must have a little recreation now and then. As soon as we get our corn crop in, and before the hay season commences, we will take a ride to Hampton Beach.... There is a sublime stirring of our feelings when we look upon the sea, as it comes swooping upon the sand...." Their three-day journey (perhaps from Deerfield or Candia, but not mentioned in the article) allowed for two travel days and one day spent at the shore. Farmers all, their "....crops were all in upon our little farm; the fishing gear put in order and my Uncle Jacob (a bachelor who said he was the best chowder maker in miles) was busy as a bee in preparing his trimmings-the salted pork, the crackers, and the pepper, and rareripes [onions]." Jacob recalled visiting the Beach many years earlier, before any taverns had been built, and he and friends had caught fish and cooked dinner on a rock. The 1843 visitors included the writer and his wife, Margaret; her parents, Farmer and Mrs. Thrifty; and Uncle Jacob. On arriving at Boar's Head, they first had a tavern dinner of "fish soup, fish fried, and fish boiled."
After eating, they hitched up the buggy for a drive along the sand, the writer commenting upon the relaxing atmosphere: "Some recreation seems good for all, even the farmer; none perhaps is more rational, none can be more pleasant and health restoring than a ride and a short stay at Hampton Beach in the summer. Good fare, good attention to comfort and moderate charges." The carriage ride ended suddenly, when after driving into the water to "wash off the wheels," the party was hit by a wave, drenching them with salt water and carrying some of them out of the buggy into the sea. They dried off and spent the night in a tavern, which, as Robert described, "is suited to the times in being cheap also."
The next day, the party went fishing with Captain Stephen Fales, first sailing back and forth along the beach, then heading offshore to the fishing grounds where in diminished winds the boat was allowed to drift and the fishing began:
Farmer Thrifty, my uncle and myself only put out our lines, and my uncle was highly delighted by remarking before his line reached the bottom,, "I have a haddock"; and as the shiny captive was lifted in, it appeared that he was right. It was my turn next, then my father's, and my Uncle Jacob then said, as he started his fish, "I now have a cod."
"And how do you tell a cod from a haddock?" I asked for the water was from eight to ten fathoms deep. "I know by the pull," said my uncle. "The cod makes a steady pull back, but the haddock jerks with great activity."
The women had become quite indifferent; all life in the morning, they were now so still that they did not even look at the fish as we lifted them over the side. My wife presently looked up, her face pale, and said, "I believe I ate too heartily this morning, my breakfast is going to disagree with me." Her mother said that was her case also; and Farmer Thrifty had ceased to fish. My uncle and Mr. Fales smiled in each others' faces, and in a short time all three were sick.
"Let us go ashore," said Margaret. "Oh, I wish I was home," said her mother. "How would you like some chowder," said Uncle Jacob, "with a good slice of fat pork?"
"You may eat your chowder yourself," said my wife.
"As we have fish enough," said my father, "we may as well go to land."
"There is not enough wind," said my uncle, "and the fish bite like good fellows."
"I never felt worse," answered Margaret, "and thought that you had more sympathy."
Whoever has felt what he termed sea-sickness will not fail to have some feeling for those who he may see suffer from it; those who know it not from experience, generally are very stoical upon the subject. So it was with my Uncle Jacob; he knew that it would do no harm, and would soon be over, and that when again on land, by the time dinner should be ready, the sick would be creditable customers to his chowder.
A light breeze from the east almost imperceptibly took us to shore, the women landed and were left to recover, while my Uncle Jacob and Mr. Fales went to work. A chowder is a dish, and not a fish, as some have imagined out of New England. It may be made with clams and then it is clam chowder, but the better sort is where fish is used and clams also and this the one I now have at hand.
Between two parts of a rock the pot was fixed, the fire made, and some slices of excellent clear salted pork first put in. When the fat was well melted out, my Uncle Jacob, who was prime cook, took out the dried pieces upon a sharpened stick and put into the fat some sliced onions; in a few minutes the slices or pinks of two fine haddock which Mr. Fales had prepared were put in with a bottle of as good old cider as ever a Harrison man smacked his lips to. Then some black pepper; next about half a peck of crackers, well soaked, and one pound of Peggy's best butter, brought for the occasion; and lastly, when the butter was fairly melted, about two pounds of clams opened raw by Mr. Fales, who took off their night caps as he progressed.
Margaret and her mother were sitting up, and despite being of the temperance influence, had requested a sip of the old cider, which was Farmer Thrifty's best, and he pulled a cork for their accommodation.
The feast, or rather the chowder, began to smell well; and by the time it was ready, and dished into three large tin pans, all hands, sick and well, were ready also. And what was I doing all this time? Why, I was making spoons to eat with, which were real Pilgrim spoons, made by inserting one edge of a clam shell in a split stick, which served for a handle. All the company agreed that they had never tasted a better chowder. My Uncle Jacob was delighted for he prided himself on his skill, and Margaret and her mother outdid any well people I ever saw.
No company could be happier than we were; drenching and sea sickness were forgotten or only contrasted with our present condition.
This was the finale; the last object of our excursion was now accomplished; and Farmer Thrifty, who said that he wished to put in a piece [field] of potatoes while the weather was fine, proposed that we should return home that evening.
"Our horses are refreshed," said he, "and we may diminish the pleasure of our trip if we remain longer." To tie my Uncle Jacob assented, and with spirits refreshed, we soon were underway over the road which took us from Hampton Beach.
July 1, 1843
For other visitors, a day at the Beach was not enough, and to serve the growing numbers of tourists who wanted to stay longer, David Nudd's son Stacy built the original Ocean House in 1844. Still the largest hotel to be constructed on the Beach, it was expanded several times, eventually reached four stories high, and served 250 guests. Located just north of today's Church Street, the hotel also had two cottages, a large stable, and a separate bowling alley. In 1866, Stacy Nudd died and the hotel was acquired by Philip Yeaton & Company of Lawrence, Massachusetts, possible the first in a long line of Beach businesspeople who have come from the Merrimack Valley. Yeaton was an experienced hotel man when he came to the Beach, and he soon expanded the facilities. He had 20 rental horses in his large stable and a stagecoach to carry guests, at 50 cents each, between the hotel and the railroad depot in Hampton Center. In a 1911 interview, the 90-year-old Yeaton recalled buying lobsters for a cent and a cent-and-a-half per pound from Captain John Perkins, who delivered his catch direct from the ocean by wheelbarrow. In those early years, only the wealthy and "those of note" took vacations. Most of the hotels charged an adult guest the same daily rate as they charged to stable a horse, but some guests the Ocean House paid as much as $25 per day. Only the best of food was served, including fish, clams, and lobsters fresh from the sea. The hotels maintained their own vegetable gardens while nearby farms provided fruit, berries, cream, milk, turkeys, lamb, and suckling pigs. Local hunters added sea ducks and other game birds from the marshes and the sea. In 1885, when the hotel burned along with a number of other buildings, Yeaton did not rebuild and many of his wealthy clients moved elsewhere for vacations, some to then-developing Bar Harbor, Maine.
At some point in the 1860s, people began to build cottages, although at first these structures may only have been summer houses for day use by residents who lived nearby. Visitors may have spent their days in the summer houses, perhaps eating there, but they slept in the hotels. According to the Reverend Sawyer, the first two private summer cottages were built about 1865 by George Dudley Dodge of Exeter and Rufus Brown of East Kingston. In an obituary for George Pierce Cutler, who died in September 1913, the Union said, "He was the first man to build a summer cottage on Hampton Beach. This was fifty years ago (1863). There were a few farm houses strung along the shore but no summer cottages. Visitors to the Beach who did not stop at the hotels or farm houses pitched their tents on the sand and slept within canvas walls." Cutler's daughter Caroline painted many watercolors of the Beach and marshes about the turn of the century and several are reproduced in this volume.
Another collection of cottages was built along the shore between Winnacunnet Road and Boar's Head beginning about 1873. Known as Simondsville, it was named for Lewis Simonds of Manchester, and others from that city spent their summers there.
In a letter sent to the Boston Journal in 1869 "A Lover of the Sea" wrote to complain about the construction of cottages at the Beach. Commenting about two town meetings held to discuss the problem, the letter writer said, " . . . Just below the Ocean House there are ten or a dozen small buildings, some of them rough and ill-shaped, facing in nearly every possible direction, and that they seriously mar the natural beauty of the Beach no one can deny; and the occupants of these buildings have not always been of a refined order." (Sawyer once wrote about the fights between men drinking at Nudd's and Locke's saloon, seemingly a common occurrence.) "Then the practice of pitching tents here and there," the letter writer continued, "at the pleasure of occupants a source of greater annoyance to the beach frequenters than meets the eye at a casual glance. There is no doubt that these things, if suffered to continue, will seriously affect travel to this fine spot."
Among the people the letter writer might have been complaining about was Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier, whose poems describe the area before it was heavily developed and one could, as Whittier did, pitch a tent anywhere and commune with nature. "Hampton Beach," written in 1843, describes a horse-and-buggy ride to the Beach for a day trip. Wrote Whittier, with a message many Beach-goers feel today,
On -- on -- we tread with loose-flung rein
Our seaward way,
Through dark-green fields and blossoming grain,
Where the wild brier-rose skirts the lane,
And bends above our heads the flowering locust spray…
Good-by to Pain and Care! I Take
Mine ease to-day;
Here where these sunny waters break,
And ripples this keen breeze, I shake
All burdens from the heart, all weary thoughts away.
I draw a freer breath, I seem
Like all I see--
Waves in the sun, the white-winged gleam
Of sea-birds in the slanting beam,
And far-off sails which flit before the southwind free…
So then, beach, bluff and wave, farewell!
I bear with me
No token stone nor glittering shell,
But long and oft shall Memory tell
Of this brief thoughtful hour by the Sea.
"The Tent on the Beach," the title poem of a collection of verse and national best seller written in 1867, describes a trip to the White Rocks section of the Beach with James T. Fields, editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and Bayard Taylor, a longtime friend. In this poem Whittier pictured the marshes and the beach itself:
When heats as of a tropic clime,
Burned all our inland valleys through,
Three friends, the guests of summer time,
Pitched their white tent where sea-winds blew.
Behind them, the marshes, seamed and crossed
With narrow creeks, and flower-embossed,
Stretched to the dark oak wood, whose leafy arms
Screened from the stormy East the pleasant inland farms.
At full of tide their bolder shore
Of sun-bleached sand the waters beat;
At ebb, a smooth and glistening floor
They touched with light, receding feet.
Northward a green bluff the chain
Of sand-hills; southward stretched a plain
Of salt grass, with a river winding down
Sail-whitened, and beyond the steeples of the town,--...
Untouched as yet by wealth and pride,
That virgin innocence of beach;
No shingly monster, hundred-eyed,
Stared its gray sand-birds out of reach;
Unhoused, save where, at intervals,
The white tents showed their canvas walls,
Where brief sojourners, in the cool soft air,
Forgot their inland heats, hard toil, and year-long care…
The clanging sea-fowl came and went,
The hunter's in the marshes rang;
At nightfall from a neighboring tent
A flute-voiced woman sweetly sang.
Loose-haired, barefooted, hand-in-hand,
Young girls went tripping down the sand;
And youths and maidens, sitting in the moon,
Dreamed o'er the old fond dream from
which we wake too soon.
Although the poems have deeper meanings, James W. Tucker, Sr., once suggested that the scenes Whittier described made him the Beach's first publicist. Whittier, who died in Hampton Falls in 1892, also wrote about Hampton in his poems "The Wreck of the Rivermouth, "The New Wife and the Old," "How the Women Went from Dover," and "The Changeling."
Others tenting at the Beach, as early as 1861, were Indians (from Old Town, Maine, in Sawyer's day), who made baskets from marsh sweet grass for sale to the visitors, a practice continued into this century. In August 1911, the Union reported that the Indians were camped on the site of the burned Radcliffe Hotel, led by Mollawantan, an old squaw of great age. In addition to selling baskets, the Indians told fortunes and "the camp is of great interest. Cooking is done in a true Indian fashion over a campfire. The camp is attractive with gaily colored baskets, sweet grass novelties and blankets and is one of the show places of the Beach." An 1890 report in the News-Letter told of other tenters: "A novel method of passing the honeymoon has been adopted by a young couple from Haverhill--tenting among the sand hills. At this season of the year surely the 'greenheads' and the sand flies must be a decided drawback to perfect bliss in this secluded spot."
An early naturalist who visited the Beach was Professor J. W. Chickering, Jr., who wrote about his experience in the The American Naturalist, published in 1871. After describing the varied marine life along the shore, Chickering concluded, "To the lover of nature, accustomed only to the verdure and beauty of the inland woods and fields, or the majesty of mountain scenery, a residence of a few days or weeks at Hampton Beach could hardly fail to bring much of novelty and constant interest, while the cool sea-breeze, and the glorious surf-bath, bring back vigor to the wearied frame, and the everlasting dispassion of old Ocean, thundering against his rocky shores, can hardly fail to fill even the undevout mind with thoughts of the great and good Maker of all this beauty."
Another of the early cottagers was John G. "Bungy" or "Bunkey" Cutler, an Exeter native who operated a billiard parlor, bowling alley, and bar in that town until it burned in 1872. In the News-Letter for August 18, 1922, Arthur W. Dudley wrote about Exeter's black residents and described Cutler and his Water Street business: "The rooms above [his billiard hall and bar] were supposed to be used for the promotion of other games of chance. It was evidently headquarters for the sporting element of not only Exeter and vicinity, but had a wide reputation among this class citizens and many sporty looking strangers were often seen above the premises. John Cutler was at the time a very fine looking man; his attire was invariably faultless and he was without exception the best dressed man in Exeter, and sported a liberal display of diamonds."
After his Exeter business burned, Cutler moved to Hampton Beach and in 1875 bought Frank Bean's Sea View Cottages, on the site of, and perhaps with the used buildings of, the John Perkins homestead, one of the first houses to be built in this section of the Beach. Possibly Bean had used some of the Perkins's buildings in creating the Sea View. Cutler expanded the business and became a popular and successful hotelman. A staunch Republican, Cutler was considered by the Union to be the dominating influence in county and town politics, and his hotel became a center of political activity, especially for lanky 10-term congressman Cyrus A. Sulloway of Manchester, who summered at Cutler's for many years.
Cutler's business was burned along with other buildings in the 1885 Ocean House fire, but only rebuilt, beginning construction of a much larger Sea View House within days of the fire. The July 7 News-Letter reported that Cutler's 26-room hotel and 40-horse stable were ready for the Fourth of July, after only 29 days of construction. The lumber came from Vermont and teams made four trips daily from the depot to the Beach, averaging 1,000 bricks, 25 casks of lime, or more than 2,000 feet of lumber per load. From July 1, 1885, until Cutler's death at age 79 in 1913 and the death of his wife, Hattie, in 1921, the hotel remained open summer and winter. Quick to take advantage of the increased numbers of visitors brought by the street railroad, Cutler in 1898 opened his new Cutler's Café, next door to the hotel. The three-story café had a restaurant, two private dining rooms, 14 guest rooms, and modern plumbing. Although electricity was available, Cutler was contemplating installing "improved kerosene lamps for [the use of] which the Boston Globe has recently discarded electricity." The café, the News-Letter noted, "will furnish anything at any hour of the day or evening from the five-cent sandwich or cup of coffee, ice cream, up through grades of chowder and the various specialties of shore resorts to the most pretentious game dinner. Liquor of any kind will not be served." A 1923 promotional brochure, advertising a new grill and tea room where afternoon tea was served daily from 3 until 5 P.M., boasted that Whittier always stayed there when visiting the Beach. Known in later years as the Constance Hotel, when owned by Edgar P. Lessard, Sr., and as the Hotel Allen, the old Cutler hotel building burned in a four-alarm 1985 fire; the café was most recently known as the Cavalier Hotel.
On the site of the Winnicumet House, Thomas Leavitt's sons Thomas and Joseph Leavitt built a large hotel that opened in 1872 and remained for 49 years until torn down to make way for the construction of the Dance Carnival. Known as the Hampton Beach Hotel but usually called Leavitt's, this building was four stories high with a three-story ell and a 10-foot-wide veranda. It was advertised as having ocean views from every room and its construction had a ripple effect as the nearby Boar's Head Hotel was enlarged and refurbished to remain competitive.
The hotel's first year must have been exciting. The landlords maintained a tallyho coach to carry guests throughout the countryside, and they had a social director to provide entertainment and games for more sedentary guests. In June there was talk of building a railroad from Hampton Beach through North Hampton to Rye Beach. Strauss waltzes were the most popular dance tunes, and, on the sands, women wore "quite pretty" Dolly Varden bathing suits made of flannel chintz. By early August, the Portsmouth Journal reported, "The parties who let bathing costumes at the sea-side are now enjoying their harvest. Their avocation in one respect is the most regular of any. Garments are all made the same size, and, whether the applicant be of Tom Thumb or Bambert order, he receives a suit the same size, and is expected to work into it or become lost in its folds, as the case man be."
The highlight of that summer of 1872, though, may have been the campaign speech by Horace Greeley at Leavitt's on Saturday, August 24. One week earlier, a correspondent counted 1,008 visitors at the Beach, but more people must have been present when the well-known newspaper man appeared to announce his candidacy for the presidency. Of the 45 men who shook Greeley's hand that day, only one intended to vote for him, one was undecided, and 43 favored Civil War hero U.S. Grant, the incumbent president.
By the 1870s, the Beach was busting with new construction. The Portsmouth Journal reported in August 1873 that, while 10 years earlier the Beach had only three guest houses, "…now there are 37 large boarding houses. Every season sees new buildings going up. At present there are five receiving finishing touches. And S. H. Dumas is to be thanked for it all, for his enterprising began this movement." The following July, the Journal commented, "Hampton Beach is evidently destined to be the cottage beach of America. Five new private chateaus have already been put up since last year, which, with the large number already there, and those contracted for, will form a delightful village by the sea. The Boar's Head, Leavitt and Union [in Hampton Center] houses--resorts for the bon vivants of Boston and vicinity--have opened under the most favorable auspices; each have their own specialities and are popularly known."
The above quotes mention S. H. Dumas and his Boar's Head House. Colonel Stebbins H. Dumas, who purchased both the Boar's Head House and the Granite (later renamed the Rockingham) from David Nudd's heirs in 1866, was an experienced hotel man who sought to develop the Beach into a large resort. He must have done some advertising for among his guests in 1868 were fifteen families from Chicago and Milwaukee. As early as 1875, he was promoting the completion of a passable road between Great Boar's Head and Little Boar's Head that would connect Hampton Beach with the large hotels of Rye Beach. When Leavitt's had financial troubles in 1875 and the landlord's friends pitched in to buy it back for them at auction for $6,000, Dumas that same year was planning to spend $50,000 to improve his Boar's Head property.
Dumas's two hotels, plus Leavitt's and the Ocean House, until 1885 became local social centers. Dances, hops, elocutions, and classical music concerts kept the formally dressed guests quite busy. Elaborate dance parties, called Germans, were held at Leavitt's and Dumas' in August 1888. The Dumas party was a leap-year event given by young ladies, with 17 couples "performing capriciously involved figures intermingled with waltzes." Spectators filled the parlor while others watched through the windows from the veranda. Leavitt's German was larger, with 19 couples and spectators from the Dumas hotels and from the Union House. The large dining room was cleared and the floor prepared for dancing. Flowers, ferns and woodbine decorated the walls and mantels. Nine figures were performed, with favors given to men and women.
Later, the Union House invited Beach guests for a party with music by Campignia's orchestra of Newburyport, a group that also played at Beach hotels. The Union House, the News-Letter reported, "…is overflowing with handsome young ladies while the sterner sex is conspicuous for their absence. What an Elysian could some young man find here! If only they dare to brave the terrors of leap year they would never regret coming." Another activity featured an evening tallyho trip from Leavitt's to the Farragut at Rye Beach, with merrymakers blowing tin horns purchased from the Village tin shop. "It is safe to say that the horn of the omnipresent fish vendor, and his cry, 'Mackerel, right from the water,' never gave the sleepy old town such a start as did the salutes of the merry tourists." Since the beach road to Little Boar's Head was not yet completed, the stagecoach had to go through town to get to Rye Beach.
Although the Beach tourists and the Village residents kept to themselves, they got together occasionally. One important annual event was the baseball game at Meeting House Green between the "regular Hampton nine and the summer boarders." The town team usually won, but, in 1889, the Beach triumphed 11-7, assisted by Brown and Shute of Exeter and a battery from the Wine Clerk's Club of Lowell. "On the return to the beach, the hayrack bearing the Victorious nine was wrecked, making a fitting close to an exciting day."
Frank Nudd's sloop often provided excursions to the Isles of Shoals or was used for fishing expeditions. More often than not, newspaper accounts mentioned more about sickness than the success of the fishermen. One group of Lowell boys, who rented a cottage for 10 days and spent much time singing, set off fireworks one night and illuminated the Beach from the Head to the sand hills with bonfires. They treated hotel guests to cake and ice cream, sang a few choruses, and then danced the night away at Leavitt's. Their fishing trip was less enjoyable, as eight of eleven "fishermen paid heavy tribute to Neptune and it is whispered the remaining three did not feel exactly right." Still, their three-hour discomfort resulted in 175 pounds of cod and haddock, which was promptly packed in seaweed and expressed to Lowell. Undaunted by the disastrous aspect of the fishing trip, even more Lowell boys returned the following summer.
In the 1870s, David Beckman of Seabrook built the frame of a house near the Seabrook Landing, then moved it by gundalow downriver and along the oceanfront, where he unloaded it on the Boar's Head side of Cutler's. The completed building became the Beckman House, with stables built later to accommodate some 40 horses. In 1881, Beckman constructed a 50-foot square-dance hall, but in 1884, at the inducement of fellow hotelman O. H. Whittier, Beckman converted the building to a roller-skating rink by adding 50 feet to two ends of the former dance hall. Beckman's son, Phineas Frank Beckman, was appointed manager.
As the largest meeting place at the Beach, Beckman's skating rink was used for interdenominational religious services. In 1888, for example, Sunday services were conducted by a variety of visiting clergy at 11 A.M. and 7:45 P.M. In August 1888, the News-Letter's Hampton correspondent reported, "Rev. Dr. Lord preached both morning and evening on the preceding Sabbath and at the second service, by actual count, had a larger audience than attended all four churches in the Village. But these religious services at the Beach during the summer are held especially for strangers and visitors at our beautiful seaside resort, and are not intended to draw away any of the regular attendants of the uptown churches."
In July 1879, a resort newspaper, the Ocean Breeze, was published with 10 weekly issues planned. In those days, not only at Hampton Beach but at many other resorts, it was common practice to publish in the newspaper the names of guests at all the hotels and boardinghouses. Among the names that Hampton Beach newspapers of the day might have mentioned as guests at Cutler's were P. T. Barnum and Tom Thumb; boxer John L. Sullivan; Presidents Franklin Pierce, James A. Garfield, Benjamin Harrison; then ex-president Grover Cleveland; General Robert E. Lee; James G. Blaine; writers Oliver Wendell Holmes, Whittier, Celia Thaxter; every New Hampshire governor during Cutler's lifetime; plus scores of other politicians, educators, and scientists who were well known during that time. Some of the same names could also be found in other Beach registers.
Not all visitors were welcome, however. In July 1887, the Portsmouth Chronicle's Hampton correspondent reported, "The beach was visited on the Sabbath by loads of out-of-town humanity, good, bad and indifferent. It would be far better for our beautiful summer resort if this kind of immigration could be transported to some other terrestrial,--or better still, celestial sphere, whence they might not return here as a moral and social plague. The Rye Beach and Portsmouth four-horse coach, loaded with boys and youth, was an especial nuisance, disturbing the evening church services on their hilarious homeward way. Their mothers, if they had any, should spank them well and keep them home and under guard hereafter."
The hotel business was having an impact on the rest of the town as well. In the summer of 1886, expressman Warren Batchelder reported hauling a ton of merchandise daily from the depot to various hotels. Perhaps he also hauled to the Beach two West Newbury sisters ("the largest seen this season"), one weighing 300 pounds, the other 275, as reported in the Portsmouth Journal.
Among many smaller guest houses was Mrs. M. A. Hasting's Manchester House, which she advertised in 1888: "Nice rooms to let at reasonable rates. Clam Chowders every day. Board by the day or week. Bathing suit to let. Dinners gotten up for parties. This house is pleasantly situated near the beach. Good stabling connected."
In July 1888, the weather was so hot in Exeter that Justice Allen of the Supreme Court transferred a week-long trial to Hampton Beach and the local reporter remarked that lawyers were as thick as berries.
One of S. H. Dumas's dreams began to come true in 1888, when the town made plans to lay out a roadway along the shore from Great Boar's Head to Little Boar's Head in North Hampton, where many wealthy people were building substantial summer homes. With the exception of efforts to remove squatters and otherwise prove Town ownership of the Beach land (discussed in more detail in the chapter on Town-owned land), the Town spent little money at the Beach or for Beach projects. The 1885 town report lists $42 spent for Beach-related projects, and most of that was for roadwork or placing rocks for a seawall at the "Logs," the narrow section of land between ocean and marsh just north of Boar's Head.
The 1887 town meeting, however, appropriated $1,000 for a new seaside road, and with $500 from North Hampton and $1,500 from the State, selectmen from the two towns laid out a road beginning at the Causeway (Winnacunnet Road) along the beachfront, past the fish houses to North Hampton. Private parties petitioned the court for a parallel road, and the issue dragged on for several years before being resolved in 1892. More work, authorized by the State, was done on this so-called Beach driveway in 1895, under the direction of John G. Cutler. Argus, the pen name of the News-Letter's Hampton correspondent in 1888, was excited about the prospect of this new road and predicted that valuable land would be available for summer housing by city and southern and western families who could build "…at a very moderate expense, and keep the entire frontage beach free from encumbrances and elements of the baser sort. This property will increase in value rapidly. And to effect these improvements, owners of abutting land should sell at once on liberal terms; and better still, donate alternate lots for good building improvements." In 1889, the News-Letter reported that Dumas sold (to George E. Mitchell) his so-called Plantation lots along the route of the new road. We doubt if any land was donated, but Argus's predictions proved correct, as the Beach north from Boar's Head to the fish houses has remained largely residential. To protect the Town's right of ownership in this section of the Beach, the selectmen in 1896 placed a line of stone posts along the west side of King's Highway to indicate the boundary of the Town-owned land east of the line to the ocean.
The summer of 1893 was the best economically for several years at the Beach. Village grocers maintained delivery carts just for Beach business; other traders were busy, too, as Jamie Delancey delivered two or three tons of ice daily to the resort. In May, poles arrived to extend the telephone line from the depot to the Beach, and General Gilman Marston reportedly was ready to construct a desperately needed water line from the Reuben Lamprey place to the Beach.
If these elements and the new road promised prosperity for Hampton Beach, other events locally and nationally were to have the opposite effect. The 1885 fire had already deprived the Beach of a major hotel and its wealthy clientele. In 1892, a "syndicate of capitalists" was reported ready to buy the site of the Ocean House, which had remained empty since the fire, to build a large hotel, "an improvement greately needed and generally desired," but in September 1893, Ashton Lee of Lawrence, a wealthy manufacturer of indigo, bought the site for a summer home. That same month, fire destroyed the large Boar's Head Hotel, which had been renovated and enlarged only the year before, and S. H. Dumas chose not to rebuild, instead renaming his Rockingham House the New Boar's Head Hotel. Smaller than the old building, it was located at the base of the Head and lacked the fine view provided by the summit hotel. While many smaller guest houses were available, most were simple places, and of the large hotels, only Leavitt's and Cutler's remained. Their business was diminished as resorts flourished north along the coast into Maine, in the White Mountains, and even out West; so Hampton Beach was hard pressed to attract the wealthy tourists who could afford to support the larger, fancy hotels that had given the Beach its start as a recreation center. It would require many people with lower incomes to match a lesser number of wealthy patrons, but how to get the masses to the Beach was a problem. Hampton had regular railroad service to the Village, but horse-drawn wagons and barges could never haul from the depot the thousands of tourists necessary to fill the guest houses. In August 1893, some 2,500 private carriages brought visitors to the annual state agricultural field day at Boar's Head, but the tiny village of Hampton could never support such a fleet to transport people from depot to Beach.
A lengthly article, "Old Hampton in New Hampshire," by Newton Marshall Hall, published in July 1896 in New England Magazine, was devoted primarily to the early history of Hampton and Hampton Falls, but the piece concluded with a hint of Hampton's problem and a bit of prophecy:
The younger generation of the ancient town of Hampton is enterprising in spirit, and is looking of course toward the future. The prosperity of the beach as a fashionable resort may never be regained. Some day, however, an electric road will be built from Exeter and Salisbury. The swarming thousands of the Merrimack valley will bring profit to the town, and will find health and amusement in their own way, a way in which beer and roller coasters and shore dinners will play a prominent part. This is, perhaps, as it should be; but it seems a pity that anything of this kind should happen. A spell should be cast over the town, and it should be cut off from the Merrimack valley and all other places where spindles are whirling and the fierce game of money-making is going on. The railroad should not come nearer than Exeter. Communication with Portsmouth and Newburyport should again be by "curricle" and "pair." The curfew should ring again, and [also] the bell which used solemnly to toll the age of the dead. All the old houses should regain their former stateliness. Lights should shine once more in the Moulton Mansion, and at the Toppan house punch should again be brewed in the great china bowl which was saved from the wreck of the "mast ship."
The completion of the road to North Beach gave that section of the resort a push. In 1894, the spacious, former Edmund Mason house, west of the old mill on High Street, was reopened by F. M. Crosby of Melrose, Massachusetts, as the Leonia, a summer hotel with room for 60 guests and a stable of 14 horses. A windmill was built, and the hotel hired as manager Mrs. S. M. Leavitt, who had been landlady since 1839 of the Elms boardinghouse. The hotel was immediately successful, and Crosby had to rent nearby dwellings to house his guests. A cold, wet July hurt beach business, and although August was fine--with the New Boar's Head Hotel, Leavitt's, the Sea View, and the Bay View all crowded with guests--the newspaper predicted that July's losses could not be recouped. Nevertheless, Crosby planned to expand the Leonia for the following season, moving the ells and a barn and constructing a two-and-a-half-story addition. By the end of October, a large North Beach cottage was nearing completion for Mrs. Mary Aiken, a Hampton Falls native and then a resident of Franklin. Mrs. Aiken's husband, Walter, was largely responsible for designing the technical aspects of the Mount Washington Cog Railway. Still standing just north of Boar's Head, her new house was built of wood and sea-washed stones and incorporated millstones from her ancestral home, the Dodge estate in Hampton Falls.
New cottages for the wealthy were not what Hampton Beach needed to compete as a recreational center, however. The Beach was at a crossroads. Both Salisbury Beach and Plum Island were ideally located for development and in fact the former was developing and had been served by a horse-drawn railway system for a number of years. Neither of these two beaches had Hampton's long-established reputation as a quality resort, and nearby Seabrook Beach was empty because there was no bridge over Brown's River and no roadway from the uptown area.
In the early 1890's, Hampton's newspaper correspondents were echoing local hopes for the development of a railway spur from the depot to Boar's Head or the construction of one of the new electric streetcar railway lines then being built throughout eastern Massachusetts. Hampton Beach should probably erect a statue to Wallace D. Lovell, the entrepreneur who promoted and built hundreds of miles of streetcar lines and, with a capital expenditure of thousands of dollars, put Hampton Beach on the map as the leading ocean summer resort in New England. Lovell had plenty of assistance, not the least of which came from the voters at one of Hampton's most important town meetings, held in April 1897. Voters acted upon four articles. They approved one, which exempted from property taxes,"for as long as the law allows permits," the powerhouse and other property of the company then named the Exeter Street Railway, and, under article two, they approved a 99-year lease of the Town-owned sand dunes to the fledgling Hampton Beach Improvement Company (HBIC). Postponed indefinitely were an article to contract with the street railway for street lighting, and another reading, "To raise a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars to defray the expense of street lighting, and pass any other vote that may aid an assist said railroad company in building said road to the beach and the river's mouth."
Article one was apparently necessary to help the electric railroad recoup some of the costs of laying the tracks between Exeter and Hampton and for stringing power lines to electrify Hampton. This approach often used by states and municipalities to lure industries to a particular community. The impact of article two continues to be debated. That article asked, "To see if the Town will pass any vote or votes relative to the leasing of any or the whole of the lower or Pines Marsh Beach to the said electric Railway Co., or parties who will open and improve the same for building purposes on some reasonable terms." Under this article the following resolution was passed:
Whereas the land owned by the town extending from the Island Path to the river mouth not being utilized and will not be for any town purpose nor yield any income to the town and whereas said land being so well located and so convenient for cottage purposes under the new Exeter Street Railway travel, it is capable of yielding a large income to the town and greatly increase taxable property and whereas there are responsible parties ready and willing to lease and improve the same for the town's interest therefore resolved that the Selectmen be instructed to lease the same to the Hampton Beach Improvement Company at such rental and under such conditions as will be for the best interest of the town and for the most valuable improvements of said land and that Selectmen be instructed to lay out a road in a Southerly direction to [the] River parallel to the beach hill and to do what is necessary to improve said land.
The resolution does not mention any rental fee, so the $500 annual payment, which was paid as $250 in April and November, was a sum that the selectmen at the time believed to be adequate compensation. Probably Lovell was behind the formation of the Hampton Beach Improvement Company. The original article at the special town meeting called for leasing the beach land to the street railroad, but there may have been local opposition to leasing to someone from out of town. At the meeting, the resolution called for leasing to the HBIC, which was composed of local men. They were perhaps induced to form this company by Lovell who, coincidentally, agreed to sublease the site of the future Casino for $500, the same sum that the HBIC was to pay the Town.
Economically, the lease was a golden goose for the company's investors, and the Town has realized that point by trying to break the lease several times since then, without success. Even today, HBIC officers are reluctant to discuss the company business, yet the local men who had the foresight to found the company spent considerable money on surveying, laying out lots, and building roads, which they maintain to this day, and they soon transformed the sand dunes into substantial taxable property. Yet voters must have left that 1897 special town meeting with broad smiles, because the tax rebate guaranteed the construction of the streetcar line and expected prosperity without cost to the Town, and Hampton's treasury was to be enlarged for renting sand dunes. The prospect for increased development had another result as well. In July 1897, landlord Joseph L. Leavitt of the Hampton Beach Hotel received a cryptic telegram sent from Washington by First District Congressman Cyrus Sulloway: "The child is born and on its forehead is written Hampton Beach." This was translated to mean that the Beach was to have a post office immediately and Leavitt was to be the first postmaster. The office did not open until 1898.
A Beach landmark closed February 1897 following the death of Simeon Jenness, who had operated a Boar's Head blacksmith shop for many years. The old man had been kept busy caring for the many horses and wagons stabled around the large hotels, a business that the street railway and automobiles made obsolete.
The stories of the street railroad and the Hampton Beach Improvement Company are told elsewhere in more detail, but their impact on the Town and the Beach was immediate. Streetcars running half-hourly could bring thousands of people a day to the Beach, but in 1897, there was little for tourists to do other than swim or sunbathe, the latter perhaps less than enjoyable, since bathing suits covered more skin than they revealed and the heavy fabric must have been uncomfortable when damp.
Lovell had other plans for Hampton Beach, however. A large casino--complete with a theater, games, lockers, and food--would be an attraction in itself. Lovell quickly cut his deal with the HBIC, perhaps their first sublease, renting for $500 a year a large area in the middle of the sand dunes where he built the first portion of the Casino, a few years later, the adjacent Ocean House, named for the old hotel burned in 1885. When the Casino opened in July 1899 and the street railroad was extended to the front door, thousand of visitors had plenty to do and Hampton Beach began a building and business boom that has continued to this day.
The coming of the street railway and the building of the Casino changed Hampton Beach dramatically at the turn of the century. Leavitt's, Cutler's, and the Boar's Head Hotel had been the centers of Beach activity for a quarter century, but the latter burned in 1893 and was not replaced. Leavitt's peak years were over, and it was torn down in 1920. Only Cutler's remained, and most of the property north of the Sea View, including Boar's Head, became residential. The center of Beach business activity moved southward, primarily to the area leased by the Hampton Beach Improvement Company, as the pioneering era of Hampton Beach came to an end and a unique collection of entrepreneurs, headed by George Ashworth, began to assert its influence on the Beach.