Thursday, March 5, 2015

Pitcairn Park, Part 3 - Halibut Point, 1958

A one-per-decade series of glimpses 1860-1960

During much of the 1950s, '60s and '70s what is now Halibut Point State Park was owned by the Richard Webster family of Brookline, who vacationed in Lanesville and became enchanted with the former quarry property that had fallen into decrepitude. I reminisced with Mrs. Cleo Webster and her daughters Kate and Heather about their experiences. Heather, who was born after the days of Pitcairn, sorted through the family slide collection to provide these photographs.
Part Three - an interview with Kate Webster, second segment

My father's curiosity was insatiable. He liked people who were real and earthy and had character.
"Pitcairn" had several meanings for him. Primarily, of course, "pit' was the quarry and "cairn" was the grout pile. But he was an adventurer at heart so the idea of Pitcairn Island was a play on the word, too.

In all his early work as a plastic surgeon he was very much a pioneer. I don't think he was ever much of a conformist. He was constantly developing new instruments and techniques which are still used today. Coming out here and being totally his own person was probably an escape from whatever conformity he did have to go along with in Boston.

My parents bought this house around 1955 when they realized they wanted to spend a lot more time here. [Interesting coincidence - this was the headquarters of the Rockport Granite Company, which operated the Halibut Point Quarry - two eye-catching structures.]

A portion of the brochure
At some point my father decided to open the property to the public, for a small fee, to have recreational things going on. It was open for a summer or two, but then it turned out his manager was stealing from him, and he fought with the Town for permission to do what he wanted to do. It was a long battle and he got sick of the complications, and sick of not having people he could trust.

The Canteen

A rental party "Down Below"
Richard Webster hooking a trout
After the failure of Pitcairn Park my Dad explored the idea of developing it with condominiums. He felt that cluster zoning, keeping the majority of the land natural but owned by the condominium association, was reasonable. He felt very strongly about private property, that if you owned it you should be able to do what you wanted, within reason.

It broke his heart, and his sense of the American Dream, that the State was able to take by eminent domain private property that he had worked hard for, and that the Town, which was a place that he really loved, was so willing to do that to a person.
His interest shifted to fishing. He had bought part of the Granite Pier below the house, and developed a boat landing there. We'd go out chumming for tuna and sharks, every day.
Granite Pier boat landing
Charlie Bianchini and crew placing stones at Granite Pier
My sister Martha with a blue shark
There's an interesting back-story to the taking of Halibut Point. When I was twenty-one I was married to a man who had been the campaign manager for Jack Davoren who was the Secretary of the Commonwealth at that time. My husband said to my father, "Do you want me to fix this for you?" My father said, "No, I believe in the system, we shouldn't have to." I think he did have faith, and an excellent law firm.

Dad disposed of the Granite Pier and re-focused to Florida in the early 1960s, when he knew the handwriting was on the wall for Halibut Point. The State paid $600,000 to my family for 55 acres of waterfront land.

Winter on the Coast by Cleo (Mrs. Richard) Webster

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