Sandy Bay Historical Society & Museums, Inc.

Sandy Bay Historical Society & Museums, Inc.
Website: Go to Site
Address: 40 King Street, Rockport
Phone: (978) 546-9533


The Sewall-Scripture House at 40 King Street was built in 1832 by Levi Sewall with granite from his own quarry. It was lived in by his descendants until purchased by the Historical Society in 1957. A 1996 addition expands exhibition space and a new library provides the public with access to extensive holdings of local history and genealogical information.

Permanent exhibits at the Sewall-Scripture House include a Victorian Parlor, Marine Room, Keeping Room, Children’s Room, Military Room, and the Hatchet Gang Exhibit. An excellent collection of the works of deceased Cape Ann artists includes Fitz Henry Lane, Aldro Hibbard, Alfred Wiggin and Charles Gruppe.


Museum: 2 – 5 PM Tuesday, Friday and Saturday

July thru mid-September, and by chance

Research Library:

9AM – 1 PM Mondays year-round

except major holidays


The exact year when the “Old Castle” was built is unknown at this time. It is however, believed to have been built in 1712. Its first owner was Jethro Wheeler, a cordwainer(shoemaker) from Rowley, who came here with his wife and nine children in 1713, and whose family lived in the house for six generations. Since the oldest of his sons, Benjamin, had ten children and Benjamin Jr. had eleven, while most of their siblings were equally prolific, it seems safe to say that several hundred present day Rockporters can trace their ancestry back to the Old Castle.

Jethro Wheeler bought the property from Joshua Norwood in December 1712, but whether the beginning of the present structure were built by Joshua, or earlier by the illegal woodcutters who erected several crude cabins along the coast, or by Wheeler himself, is uncertain. The belief that a structure of some sort existed on the land before 1714 had led the Sandy Bay Historical Society, present owners of the Old Castle, to hire a dendrochronologist from Oxford University in England to take boring from oak timbers to compare with a large database of results from similar boring in order to determine the exact age of the building. This new science may finally solve the mystery of the Old Castle’s origin. The results showed that the building was probably constructed in 1712.

Castle Lane

Rockport, Massachusetts

2 – 5 PM Saturdays, July and August and by chance