History

A South Shore landmark for over 60 years, this restaurant complex was once the site of Hugo’s Lighthouse (est. 1940), a favorite of guests from Cape Cod to Cape Ann. Today, Atlantica and The Olde Salt House share this exceptional location overlooking picturesque Cohasset Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. These restaurants have become fixtures on the South Shore; a destination for Cohasset residents, and families from surrounding communities, Boston and afar.

The staff of Atlantica and The Olde Salt House have made anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, holidays, rehearsal dinners, weddings, and other milestone events, an occasion of lasting memories. This dramatic waterfront location, and the quality of the freshest seafood paired with organic and sustainable ingredients, remains the draw for guests from far and wide. The restaurants have a combined guest capacity in excess of 500 people.

 

HISTORY OF COHASSET

For the first two centuries of its existence, Cohasset was a seafaring village. Several generations of young Cohasseters went to sea at an early age, sometimes making their first ocean voyage before they had reached the age of ten years to serve on the numerous family-owned fishing schooners making up the Cohasset fishing fleets. Families with names such as Bates, Tower, Snow, Wilson, and Collier made their living from the sea as shipbuilders, shipowners, fishermen, and merchants.

An example of the early family-operated fishing businesses was the one established by Captain Abraham Tower. Descended from John Tower, a first settler of Hingham, Abraham Tower had been a member of the Boston Tea Party and served in the Revolutionary War. Returning from the war, he built a stone wharf at Cohasset Harbor adjacent to the older wharf built by Samuel Bates.

Both ancient wharves still exist, and Tower’s wharf is now the site of Hugo’s Lighthouse Restaurant [Atlantica]. Captain Tower maintained a “fleet” of fishing schooners and constructed several large buildings at the wharf site for the maintenance of his vessels and for the processing of their fish . . . By the 1800s Tower schooners were voyaging north each summer to Canadian Atlantic waters for the catching of mackerel. When the schooners’ holds were full, they would return to Cohasset and unload their valuable cargo at the Cove. Here it would be processed and shipped to markets. Founded in about 1790, the Tower family business lasted until 1928. Of the original buildings at Tower wharf, not one remains, the wharf having been cleared to make room for a new restaurant building in the early 1930s.

Captain Abraham Tower, the founder, was born in 1752 and died in 1832. He is listed as having been a “Master shipbuilder” and fisherman. His son Abraham Hobart Tower, born in 1801, inherited the family business at the Cove, and its name became A.H. Tower Company. Abraham Hobart Tower was known as having engaged in commerce, navigation, and farming. By the mid-1800s Tower’s fishing fleet was sizable, and the business had become one of the largest commercial ventures in Cohasset. Continually expanding, A.H. Tower Co. added a lumber wharf to its holding, now the site of the Gulf Mill boatyard. Abraham Hobart Tower died in 1881, and the family company passed to his two sons Abraham Hobart Jr. and Newcomb Bates Tower.

Following the years of the Civil War, Cohasset’s fishing industry faced a slow but steady decline, and in 1894 the last of the family-owned fishing schooners, the . . . Charlotte, left Cohasset for Canadian waters, never to return. Charlotte was impounded by Canadian authorities for customs violations and was sold to a Nova Scotia fisherman the following summer.

With the decline of the local fishing industry, Abraham H. and Newcomb B. Tower decided to diversify their business at Cohasset Harbor, and Tower Brothers Company (as it was called at the time) became a general store and hardware company. The Border Street buildings at Tower’s wharf were filled with everything from lumber to molasses, house paint to bamboo fishing poles, and from marine fittings to barrels of sugar. The store and its appurtenant business flourished well into the twentieth century, and not until Newcomb Tower’s passing in 1928 did its doors shut for the last time.

From the Cohasset Historical Society, Cohasset, MA (Town of Cohasset, Mass., 2005), pp. 73-74.

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