The Ruins of Misery Island

The large Island called Misery lying at the top of Salem Sound was once a popular summer resort- it once even had a casino on its premises. Its decline as a resort was caused in large part by a massive fire in May of 1926, but the remnants of some of the old island cottages can be seen today. The Island is open to the public and owned by the Trustees of Reservations. Pictured below is the Bleak House, once a private residence, located on the Southwestern side of the island:

misery island

The ruins of the Bleak House as seen from the Southwestern side of Misery Island:

boston harbor

An old doorway down to the ocean on the North side of the ruins of the Bleak House:

bleak house

From this hill on the North side of the island where the casino ruins are located, there is a clear view all the way North to Manchester and Gloucester. House Island and Misery Island Cove are visible in the foreground:

house island

A staircase near the old casino ruins on the North side of the island:

misery island

A very large, sprawling oak tree is located on the Western side of the island. By the look of it, the tree must be several hundred years old.

salem sound

Pictured below is the ruins of the old water tower on Misery Island. Several old photos of the water tower were published by the Boston Globe on May 9th and 10th, 1926, documenting the great fire that swept the island.

House Island and what is known as Sauli Rock (green marker) as seen from Misery Island:

lobster point manchester

A view of Baker’s Island and Little Misery from the South side of Misery Island, in a scene perhaps more fitting of Downeast Maine than the coast of Massachusetts Bay.

bakers island

The wreck of the Steamer Monohansett, which wrecked in a storm on the Eastern side of the island near Little Misery in 1904. (This is not to be mistaken with the City of Rockland, a vessel scuttled nearby, the remain of which are visible today-The Monohansett was removed). If one looks carefully, the photo shows one of the intact island homes of the time in the background. Clearly, it exhibits similar architecture of square, rock columns as the ruins that remain today. The home pictured is believed to be that belonging to Charles S. Hanks, a prominent businessman of the time. Source: Wikimedia Commons. 

Monohansett wrecked 1904

Cruising up through the Salem sound to Misery Island is a pleasant ride if one can navigate its many ledges and rock outcrops. Below is a view of the Salem Sound looking Southwest from Misery Island. In the distance, Children’s Island and the beacon on Satan Rock are visible. In the far distance, the shores of Cohasset and Scituate are visible.

salem sound

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3 Responses to The Ruins of Misery Island

  1. Johnny Atkins says:

    Is there any printed history of Little Brewster Island when it was called Beacon Island?
    Why was Name changed?

  2. Patsy Kuropatkin says:

    In the late 1940’s my father was hired as “Caretaker” of Misery Island. They still had a few families living there then. Can you give me ANY recorded info regarding HIM? I am 71-years old and lived on that Island as a baby. Always curious about ole’ Misery & visit when I can. BTW, his name was Harry L. Trott. Can you maybe help an old lady out here, please?

    • admin says:

      Thank you for the comment! I will take a look…searching through old newspaper archives doesn’t seem to reveal anything about a Harry L. Trott, but I can check at Town Hall and with Trustees of Reservations who owned the island then (and still do). There is a book called “Boston’s Gold Coast” by Joseph E. Garland that mentions a Daniel Neville as the owner and caretaker up until his death in 1885, but does not have anything more recent. Any more facts or stories you might have would be very helpful! Thanks again and will try to find some more information for you!

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