History of the Seafarer Inn...

This article was originally written on December 10, 2013. All updates will be noted.

The Seafarer Inn has a long history as a place to stay to get away from it all when visiting Rockport, Mass. Built in 1890, the Seafarer Inn was first used by the famous Rockport hotel "The Straitsmouth Inn" as a cottage that guests could stay at away from the main hotel. The map below is from 1899 and shows the Seafarer Inn at it's current location on Marmion Way (then called "Estes Ave"), before the Coast Guard Station was built.

Map from 1899 showning The Seafarer InnThis image shows the Seafarer Inn (circled in red) on a map from 1899.
Image Source: Salem Deeds Atlas - PLATE_0027

The U.S. Coast Guard Station across the street from the Seafarer Inn was originally established in 1874 at Davis Neck. However, it was abandoned in 1882. Later, on May 4, 1882, an act authorized the establishment of a complete life-saving station in Cape Ann, MA. In 1889, the station moved to Gap Cove and was named, appropriately, Gap Cove Coast Guard Station. The station was built shortly after the creation of the map pictured above. On July 1, 1902, the name changed to "Straitsmouth", possibly after a 1900 description of the new site listed it as "on Cape Ann, west one-half mile of Straitsmouth light."[1]

Map from 1929 showning The Seafarer Inn adjacent to the U.S. Coast Guard Station.This image shows the Seafarer Inn (circled in red) on a map from 1929 across the street from the U.S. Coast Guard Station off Gap Cove.
Image Source: Sandy Bay Historical Society

The Straitsmouth U.S. Coast Guard Station was actively used until July 1964, when the property was turned over to the General Services Administration (GSA). The U.S. Coast Guard Station, picture below circa 1905, can be seen alongside the Seafarer Inn.

Straitsmouth U.S. Coast Guard Station in 1905.This image shows the Seafarer Inn next to the Straitsmouth Coast Guard Station in 1905.
Image Source: Sandy Bay Historical Society

Ella S. Wilkinson owned the Straitsmouth Inn and much of the adjacent land on Gap Head while E.L. Wilkinson ran a few cottages available seperate from the main hotel just off Gap Head. The Seafarer Inn was part of the Straitsmouth Inn cottages and was known as "Old Cottage." Below is a picture from 1957 of the Seafarer Inn, then known as "Old Cottage."

The Seafarer Inn circa 1957 when it was known as Old Cottage across from the Straitsmouth U.S. Coast Guard Station.The Seafarer Inn was known as "Old Cottage" when ran by the Straitsmouth Inn. The Straitsmouth U.S. Coast Guard Station, across the street from the Seafarer Inn, was active until 1964.
Image Source: Sandy Bay Historical Society

On January 20th 1966, the Wilkinson's sold the land to George E., Jr., and M. Jeanne Cameron, owners of the Seaward Inn.[2] "Old Cottage" was renamed to "Sea Meadows" around this time. On April 29th 1968, George E. Cameron Jr. sold "Sea Meadows" to John W. and Ruth S. Mahoney. John Mahoney worked as a chef at the Turks Head Inn from 1960 to 1964 in Rockport, then as a chef at the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA from 1965 to 1966. The Mahoney's ran the inn until October 14th, 1975 when it was sold to Gerald "Gerry" E. and Mary V.N. Pepin.[3]

The Seafarer Inn - 1986.The "Rockport Anchor" is an advertisement booklet put out every year by the town. The Seafarer Inn first appears in the "Rockport Anchor" in 1982. This advertisement can be found in the 1986 "Rockport Anchor".
Image Source: The Rockport Room, Lower Level in the Rockport Library.

When the Pepin's purchased the inn in 1975, the inn was still going by the name "Sea Meadows." The first documentation of the name "Seafarer Inn" can be found in the 1982 edition of the "Rockport Anchor," a book of advertisements released annually by The Rockport Board of Trade/Chamber of Commerce. The name could have been changed anywhere between the Pepin's purchase in 1975 and their promotion of the inn through the Rockport Anchor in 1982. The picture above was taken from the 1986 edition of the Rockport Anchor.

Gerry and Mary Pepin ran the Seafarer Inn until April 26th 1989 when it was sold to Rosalie "Leigh" Reynolds. The house was sold back to the Pepin's November 1990.[4] The Pepin's maintained ownership of the inn until they sold it once again, this time to David K. Cantrell on April 3rd 1998.[5]

The Seafarer Inn - 1998.David K Cantrell was owner of the Seafarer Inn from 1998 to 2000. The picture above was from the front of a brochure from that time.
Image Source: The Rockport Room, Lower Level in the Rockport Library.

David K Cantrell ran the inn from April 1998 through November 2000. During his time, he put out a nice looking brochure found in the Rockport Room of the Rockport Library. The front of the brochure featured custom artwork of the Seafarer Inn, which can be seen in the photo above.

On November 29th 2000, Dolores and Stephen Vagi purchased the inn from Seafarer Inn Inc.[6] Almost thirteen years after taking over, Dolores Vagi sold the home to the current owners, Chris and Beth Roenker on August 28th 2013.[7]

New firplace installed October 2013.Chris and Beth Roenker took over in August 2013. This is a picture of a new gas insert fireplace installed in October 2013.
Image Source: The Seafarer Inn.

Although the inn was in good shape considering its age, a month after moving in, Chris and Beth Roenker started renovating. The front wrap-around porch was replaced in September/October 2013 to strengthen the house going into the future. New shingles have been added and many of the windows on the first floor were replaced during the fall of 2013. Along with exterior modifications, interior jobs have also been completed. For instance, a new gas insert fireplace, see photo above, was added in October 2013. More jobs will be added as time goes on.

From the Wilkinson's to the Roenker's--from lot 54 on Estes Ave to 50 Marmion Way--the Seafarer Inn has held its identity as a premier destination to visit on Cape Ann. We hope you become a part of our history by staying at our inn.

This article was written mainly by use of public records found at the Rockport Room located in the lower level of the Rockport Library, the Sandy Bay Historical Society, the Town of Rockport Board of Assessors, SalemDeeds.com, and the Registry of Deeds in Salem, MA. These public institutions deserve so much credit for their efforts in preserving the legacy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Many thanks go out to the individuals that make these places great!

If you have anything to add to this article, please contact us at [email protected]

Update #1 (5/29/14): Kitchen Remodel
Making breakfast for our guests is an important daily event that is always done with the most earnest effort. Therefore, the kitchen must be a place that functions well -- both practically and aesthetically. The kitchen before we remodelled functioned very well -- practically. However, we thought it could use a touch-up here and there. Below are links to the before and after photos for the kitchen remodel. The photos are 360 degree virtual tour panoramas, so click and drag the screen to look around. Both photos start at the same angle in the kitchen.
Before | After