Family fun at Half Moon Beach and StageFort Park
Skipping rocks -like father, like daughter
Sam Novello asks GMG, “Joe, what happened to the cannons at Stage Fort Park—— two are gone?”
The cannon(s) are undergoing restoration (cleaning, chemical treatment and re-painting). In 2018, the CPA Committee awarded $22,705 of an estimated $46,000 to the Stage Fort Park Advisory Committee to refurbish the Parrot Rifle Cannon for work scheduled to commence spring 2020. The project is led by the Stage Fort Park Advisory Committee. The grant application project summary indicates the scope of work as follows:
“Our final goal is to restore the Fort area as a historic feature of the Park and its importance to our local military history.* Repairs and restoration of this site are long overdue. The ramparts are overgrown with vegetation**. The cannon barrels are suffering due to neglect. The barrels are subject to trash, dirt and debris. We hope to preserve this site for future generations. The cleaning, capping and painting of the cannon will protect the barrel against future damage. We have proposed an annual stipend in the city budget of $2000 for maintenance of the Fort as well as a security plan for the Fort which would include lighting and security cameras. *Our ultimate goals include a visitor education center with historic references to the Fort and its history. It is expected that the entire Stage Fort Park will be used as a centerpiece of the city’s 400th anniversary celebrations.”
– Stage Fort Park Advisory Committee CPA application excerpt, photo from packet and phasing goals
Read the full application here: 2019 CPA Application SFP Parrot Rifle Cannon Carriage
*There is no finalized plan for this area overall. (See photographs then/now below.)There IS a history of Fort use and restoration for historic battles –as well as city celebrations– honoring this legacy and the kind souls who volunteered to do so.
For example: I’m not sure if the 187th Infantry Brigade was paid for the work they did in 1973, which I’m assuming was the last big overhaul. The CPA grant is just about the work on the cannons. The Historical Commission wrote a letter of support stressing replica accuracy using period materials (wood and metal)
**The area is overgrown at the moment because of various DPW work on the boulevard and future plans. (When I photographed the area annually it’s cleared.)
Stage Fort is the oldest fort in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
As part of the city’s 350th celebration prep, the cannon site area (earthworks, entrance area, powder magazine, and gun embrasures) was restored by an engineer brigade from Wollaston. The design intent turned the clock back to how the fort would have been built out in the 1700s. Julian Hatch, the chairman of the 350th, had been director of public works for the city. The project was decades in the wishing and sensitively designed at long last.
In 1930, the Fort was spruced up from its formal design post Civil and Spanish war. Fisherman’s Field Stage Fort information plaques were commissioned and unveiled.
Bronze tribute plaques embedded in Tablet Rock at Stage Fort Park detail the site’s history and were commissioned and unveiled at different times. The monumental and stunning Founders plaque from 1907 on Tablet Rock itself is in fantastic condition. Two DAR plaques were inlaid on the glacial outcroppings past half moon beach on the way to the cannons. The Fisherman’s Field (ca.1930) is so worn it’s nearly indecipherable, though that’s part of its charm. The plaque compels close inspection, lingering and discovery. It’s a fun family activity for anyone who likes a challenge. For those who want help reading the content, I transcribed it back in 2010. ”
Printable PDF of the plaque translation here
Read more about historic battles and Gloucester Stage Fort Park in this trivia quiz designed by Shaun Goulart, GHS history teacher, in this prior GMG post.
copy of Frank L. Cox fine art photograph (pre dates 1921) he used to illustrate his pocket Gloucester guide “The Gloucester Book”, and sell prints
Wonderfully fun and funny, heartfelt, quirky, original, and fabulous musicians all, Guster headlined Gloucester’s first Riverfest Seaside Music Festival. Montage of highlights from the show with favorite songs “Amsterdam,” “Happier,” “Satellite,” “Stay With Me Jesus,” “Homecoming King,” “Ramona,” “Do You Love Me,” “This Could All Be Yours,” and more.
For information on upcoming shows, tickets, store, and to see Guster’s latest hit video for “Overexcited,” go HERE to www.guster.com
Riverfest presented by 92.5 The River and the City of Gloucester, Stage Fort Park. See photos from the show at Kim Smith Designs
Headlining act Guster gave a fantastic and fabulous-in-every-way show at the Riverfest Seaside Music Festival Saturday afternoon. They played all the fan favorites for a wonderfully fun and eclectic audience. Some of my favorite songs from their beautiful repertoire of music included “Amsterdam, “Do You Love Me,” “This Could All Be Yours,” “Homecoming King,” “Satellite,” “Stay With Me Jesus,” and many, many more. Video with music highlights to come later this week 🙂
Although I had to work most of the day and didn’t get to the event until after 3:30, the festival went fabulously well, from this fan’s perspective. A huge shout out to Donald St. Sauveur and radio 92.5 The River (the best rock radio station, bar none!), Mayor Sefatia and her team for bringing Riverfest to Gloucester, to Jill Cahill and Gloucester’s stellar DPW for the advanced planning and organizing (Stage Fort Park looked absolutely gorgeous!), to all the sponsors, and especially to the fans. Everyone was having a grand time-enjoying the music, dancing, spending time with family and friends, and just having fun.
Thank you festival organizers for a wonderfully new and exciting event for Gloucester! I hope it is the the first of many Riverfests to come!!!
We heard you when you told us we’d outgrown the venue in Newburyport. So, we’re excited to share that Riverfest is moving to a new, larger venue — beautiful Stage Fort Park, Gloucester, overlooking Gloucester Harbor.
And we’ve also moved the event up one week from its traditional Labor Day weekend. The event will be held Saturday, August 24, 2019, 12-6pm.
But something that definitely hasn’t changed — Riverfest will continue to be free and open to the public, as it’s always been.
We’re stoked about the future for this popular, annual event, and we hope you’ll join us on August 24th for an awesome day of live music and great vibes!
The Riverfest Seaside Music Festival is a free show open to the public, now in it’s 18th year! Because of the popularity of this event, attendees are encouraged to get there early with blankets & chairs for a day of great live music!
Help keep Gloucester and Stage Fort Park beautiful! Please do not leave behind cigarette butts, trash, food, etc. Put all trash/recycling in proper barrels.
Dogs and other pets must be on a leash at all times.
Stage Fort Park is such a jewel. We are lucky to have this park, playground, beach mother nature and the cupboard.
Blanched and illuminated area beneath the founder’s plaque was tagged with graffiti which will be ably removed by the city.
Days earlier it wasn’t. For comparison, here’s how the giant rock appeared May 1, 2019. Had it been on that day…
Though uncommon, graffiti has been removed from this same spot before. Here’s a 1974 photograph from the Gloucester Daily Times catching a family reading the founder’s plaque. Graffiti was visible and without mention.
Gloucester’s wrap around picturesque landscape was preserved as a public park in 1898. In 1907, the monumental natural glacial outcropping was decorated with an inset of bronze plaque and stone relief commemorating the first fishermen from England laying claim in 1623. Eric Pape was commissioned for its design.
There are a few circle-A’s tagged around town of late. Also Eon
Paraglider dry runs looks exhausting
This past week, we have received a half dozen reports of “plovers” nesting in local parking lots. Folks are correct, they are a type of plover, but they are not Piping Plovers. The bird is a more common sort, a Killdeer, and Killdeers, like Piping Plovers (and other species of plovers), share many similar courting, nest scraping, mating, and defensive behaviors.
Killdeer courting in the parking lot at Stage Fort Park
Killdeers have been nesting in the dunes and in the Good Harbor Beach parking lot for a number of years, and some years they even have two broods. Last year, the first brood of the season hatched from a nest in the dunes, the second brood, from a nest at the perimeter of the parking lot. For the second nest, Gloucester’s amazing DPW crew put up a large rock adjacent to the nest, to prevent cars from driving over the nest.
We don’t hear as much about Killdeer Plovers because they are not an endangered species. Killdeers are found in every state of the continental US, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. They are the least shorebird-like of shorebirds because they breed and dwell in many types of habitats including grasslands, fields, urban areas, gravel pits, airports, parking lots, athletic fields, and golf courses. Despite their super ability to adapt to human habitats, it is a species in decline.
Killdeers are nearly twice as large as Piping Plovers, but you wouldn’t know that unless you see them side-by-side. The easiest way to tell the difference is Killdeers have two black collar bands whereas PiPls only have one.
The back and wing feathers of the Killdeers are a mid-shade of brown, with rust and orange under wings. This coloration more easily blends with gravel pits, grasslands, and scrubby dune habitats. The Piping Plover’s wing and back feathers are a soft pale gray, in shades of driftwood and sand; the birds are much better camouflaged for beach life. The Killdeer has a red eye ring, the Piping Plover’s eyes are jet black. Killdeer’s bills are more elongated and are a solid black, the PiPls’s is shorter and orange, tipped in black. Piping Plovers have orangish legs; Killdeer’s legs are light buff and light gray.
The feathers of the Killdeers at Stage Fort park blend beautifully with gravel, scrubby grass, and dirt found there in the parking lot. Notice in the third photo in the above gallery how the Killdeer blends with its grassy surroundings.
Piping Plovers are camouflaged in coastal hues of sand and driftwood
The same advice that applies to observing Piping Plover chicks as does to Killdeer chicks. Watch from a safe distance that does not cause the birds to flush and never pick up or touch the eggs or chick.
Killdeer and Piping Plover chicks are precocial. That is a word biologists use to describe a baby bird’s stage of development at birth. Precocial means that shortly after hatching, the bird is fully mobile. Plover chicks are not completely mature, they still need parents to help regulate their body temperature, but they have downy feathers and can run and feed themselves within moments after emerging. Both Killdeer and Piping plover chicks are well camouflaged in their natural habitats.
The opposite of precocial is altricial. Birds that hatch helpless, naked, usually blind, and are incapable of departing the nest are altricial. Robins and Cardinals are examples of altricial birds.
Killdeer chicks are well hidden in their habitats, as are Piping Plovers chicks in theirs.
Even though they are not Piping Plovers, we still love to hear about Killdeers and to learn more about where they are nesting in our area. Please email me at email@example.com if you have any information you would like to share about Killdeers. Thank you.
Congratulations to Jamie McDonald, aka Adventureman, for his momentous, inspiring solo-run achievement across America~ And to his team! Little kids in the crowd sported red capes. GMG photographers are out in full force so great coverage will be coming like it’s St. Peter’s Fiesta.
Aerial no filter straight up phone video from rooftops across Gloucester Harbor. It was heartwarming to hear voices carry — from this height and battling wind–, to see the crowd stream past, pause by the Leonard Craske FisherMan at the Wheel memorial, then off to Pavilion beach by Beauport Hotel (site of former Birdseye factory) so Jamie could touch the water and conclude his generous journey.
David Cox in position
ANSWERS TO SHAUN GOULART’S LOCAL HISTORY TRIVIA WEEK TWO
How did you do? Week two delved into scenes of historic battles. I’ve added some background. Stop here if you prefer to go back to see Week 2 questions only from 3/17/19
*“In 1623, 14 English fishermen set up the first European colony on Cape Ann here in what was then Fisherman’s Field and is now Stage Fort Park. These ramparts overlook the harbor, first built during the Revolutionary War, renewed for the War of 1812, the Civil War and the Spanish American War. Alas, those first settlers, sent across the ocean by the Dorchester Company, were unable to live off the sea and these rock-bound fields. They moved a few miles south to what is now Salem in 1626. Then, within a decade, there were enough permanent settlers on Cape Ann to incorporate the town of Gloucester. The first meetinghouse was built on the Town Green in 1642 near what is now the Grant Circle rotary of Route 128. The City set this land aside as a public park in 1898 and its Tablet Rock was dedicated by Henry Cabot Lodge in 1907. James R. Pringle was designated to write the inscription for the bronze plaque. The execution of the design was by Eric Pape. “The nautical scheme of decorative framework and embellishment was the composite suggestion” of various committees dating as far back as the 1880s.” *see Gloucester HarborWalk Stage Fort Park marker #42 photo on marker ©Sharon Lowe. See also Stage Fort Park then/now photos in prior GMG post
Bronze tribute plaques embedded in Tablet Rock at Stage Fort Park detail the site’s history and were commissioned and unveiled at different times. The monumental and stunning Founders plaque from 1907 on Tablet Rock itself is in fantastic condition. Two DAR plaques were inlaid on the glacial outcroppings past half moon beach on the way to the cannons. The Fisherman’s Field (ca.1930) is so worn it’s nearly indecipherable, though that’s part of its charm. The plaque compels close inspection, lingering and discovery. It’s a fun family activity for anyone who likes a challenge. For those who want help reading the content, I transcribed it back in 2010. Scroll down below the “read more” break in this post to open.
location 2 courtesy photos
“In 1743, what is known as the old fort on Commercial Street, now encroached upon and surrounded by buildings, was completed. On this point, well selected strategically, is a hill which effectually commands the inner harbor. In 1742 and 1742, the General Court appropriated 527 pounds to defray the cost of fortification. Breastworks were thrown up and eight 12-pounders placed in position in the fort. The immediate cause of its erection was the fear of French incursions, but these fears were never realized. An effort had been made as early as 1703 to fortify the place, but the petition of the selectmen to the General Court for an appropriation for the purpose was refused. The petition shows that he harbor, even at that early date was extensively frequent for shelter, and was “very seldom free from vessels.”
“In order to be better prepared for future assaults breastworks were thrown up at Stage Fort, the Cut, Duncan’s Point and Fort Point. This, however was the last attack by sea or land that the people experienced.”
“Immediate action was taken toward the erection of fortifications. Land at Eastern Point, belonging to Thomas Niles was acquired by the government, and earthwork fort erected and manned…”
Whenever I’m out doing errands, if time allows, I try to take the “long” way around. The sun was beginning to shine through the storm clouds while the snow was still falling when I stopped to capture the beautiful shadowy and pale lavender-gray hues at Stage Fort Park. The pretty grays lasted only a few moments, but I was so glad to have taken the long way.
The summer of 2019 will mark the 33rd year of concerts under the stars at the Stage Fort Park Antonio Gentile Bandstand. Summer concerts began in 1986, founded by a group of former band students of retired Gloucester High School band director Antonio F. Gentile.
The Antonio Gentile Bandstand is located at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester. David Benjamin will be posting the concert series schedule in the coming months.