|The Nahant Life Saving Station | 96 Nahant Road| 01908
May 1st Dedication Day | Debut of Nahant's Life-Saving Station
The Station was built over 110 years ago, in response to the loss of eight souls in the wreck of the three-masted coal schooner Charles Briggs on Short Beach in 1898 — just a sixteen days before the battleship USS Maine blew up in Havana Harbor and started the Spanish-American War. Henry Cabot Lodge was a resident of Nahant, and also — to Nahant’s good fortune — a member of the Senate of the United States. As the nation raced into war footing, and in less than a month, he got an article into the warrant for Town Meeting to transfer land on Short Beach to the federal government. He also got the Congress to appropriate money to build a Life-Saving Station here. (Today, we’d probably call it an “earmark.”) It was the only station ever built of “double-edged” architecture, that is, set up to be able to launch surfboats in either of two directions — either across Short Beach, or across what is today Nahant Road, to the waters of Broad Sound.
The Station served in the finest traditions of sea-rescue for some three generations, even as the U.S. Life-Saving Service was merged into the Coast Guard, and until the Coast Guard began to consolidate stations with the advent of more capable rescue boats. Then it served another generation as a Coast Guard Recreational Facility — hosting beach parties for military families — before being deeded back to the Town in 2000.
With its renovation nearing completion, on May 1, 2012 the Station marks the start of its new life - commemorating its history in service of sea rescue, and offering Nahant families the kind of opportunities for beachside events that in the past were available only to military families. And more benefits for Nahant that we’ll develop as the renovations progress, and as we smooth out the rough patches.
There are a few key opportunities remaining to make your name — or the name of a family member — a permanent part of the Station. You can sponsor a door, for example, or a big Boatroom door, or even a window, and have your name permanently affixed to it, showing future generations your role in making the Station a treasure for future generations. You may have seen the brass plaques in the Nahant Community Center, which are good examples. You still have a chance to make your name a permanent part of the building’s history.
Part of our restoration goal at the Life-Saving Station is to help visitors understand the Station's historic mission and colorful past. We are seeking images from any era, from the earliest days of the Station up until today including historic images, family snapshots, postcards, artwork, paintings, drawings and other memorabilia that include an image the Station. So dig out those images and be part of the “Art of the Station” exhibitory!