Mass Humane Society Boathouse and Irish Mossing Shed
Edward Foster Road and 301 Driftway
These two buildings are unique examples of a time gone by.
During the mid-to-late 1800's the Humane Society of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts constructed many lifeboat houses along the Massachusetts coast. This building was constructed around 1896 and was designated as Station No. 23. It was located at Pleasant Beach Cohasset. This building was equipped with a new lifeboat, Hunt Line Throwing Gun, and other rescue equipment.
Shortly after this boathouse was placed in service, the Great Portland Storm of November 1898 struck the New England Coast. Many vessels were driven ashore including the coal barge Lucy Nichols. Volunteers from this station made a heroic, but unsuccessful attempt to reach the crew stranded at Black Rock. The rescuers were thrown into the sea, but managed to swim back to shore. The crew of the Hull Life-saving Station later rescued the Nichols crew.
The last appointed Captain of Station No. 23 was Arthur O. Wood. He was appointed on August 1, 1930. In the mid-1930's the Humane Society closed most boathouses. This boathouse was moved from Cohasset to Scituate's First Cliff around 1938. Young's boatyard used the building for storage of equipment and as a workshop. Very few of these boathouses still exist in Massachusetts. The Town of Scituate recognized the historical significance of this building and voted funds to restore it in 2007.
One hundred years ago there were many Irish Moss storage sheds along the Scituate waterfront. These sheds were used to storage the dried Irish Moss, a type of seaweed, until a buyer came along. Irish Moss was used as an emulsifier in the production of many different products, including chocolate milk, toothpaste, mayonnaise, salad dressing, cosmetics, and various other items.
Heading off the beach in small dories at slack tides, the mossers used 14-foot-long rakes to scrape the moss off the rocks and haul it into their boats. Bringing it ashore, they washed it in salt water, as fresh water would destroy it, and lay out on the beach to dry. When it had gone from slimy and black to brittle and white, the moss was ready for sale.
Describing the beauty of the life of a mosser, one anonymous Scituate gentleman told American Magazine in 1942, "It's a great farm we have out there. We don't have to plow it or plant it, but it gives us four crops a season."
Today the Moss Shed at Maritime and Mossing Museum is the only example left. Before the Scituate Historical Society secured funding from Community Preservation funds this shed was in danger of collapse. This shed is unique since many mossers names are written on the interior walls. The shed is now used to store small boats used by the Scituate Recreation Commission. A link to a video of the shed being moved can be found here.