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Relive Stormy Past at Hull Lifesaving Museum

Activities, exhibits recall Boston Harbor heritage


The Mattie Eaton of Maine, which was wrecked opposite the pavilion at Nantasket Beach on her way to Trinidad in 1888. Photo courtesy of Hull Lifesaving Museum

Boston Harbor’s maritime history is a swirl of sailing ships, the nor’easters that claimed them, and the courageous teams that paddled to their rescue. Visitors can relive the days of the 19th-century lifesaving station at the Hull Lifesaving Museum at Point Allerton on the South Shore. Three times a week at Hull’s Windmill Point, adults can learn how to “pull together,” rowing in Whitehall fours, pilot gigs, barges, and captain’s gigs, with boats chosen to match the crew on any particular outing.

Built in 1889, the Point Allerton Lifesaving Station lives on with exhibits, a hands-on loft for children, open-water rowing programs, and a spectacular view of Boston Light, on Boston Harbor’s Little Brewster Island, from the station’s observation cupola. The Lifesaving Museum also offers Boston-based and South Shore–based maritime programs, including at the Seaport Boathouse at South Boston’s Marine Industrial Park on Drydock Avenue and the Boston Rowing Center in Fort Point Channel. With programs for adults and children, the open water rowing programs in Boston Harbor teach the practices, traditions, and ethics of 19th-century coastal lifesavers, whose purpose is summarized with the words skills, courage, and caring. Museum exhibits re-create the treacherous missions of these U.S. Lifesavers, who would patrol the open beaches, responding to stress calls by alerting the station’s surfmen and scrambling into rescue boats.

The Hull Lifesaving Museum, 1117 Nantasket Ave., Hull, is open year-round, Saturdays through Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Directions and more information are available here.

Susan Seligson can be reached at sueselig@bu.edu.

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