For only $2.25, you could have had an all you can eat Full New England Saturday Buffet Supper de Luxe and free admission to dancing– that is, if you were at the Rockmere Hotel in the 1950s.
The Rockmere Hotel, sometimes called the Rock-mere Hotel or Rockmere Inn, was a stunning fixture on the Marblehead coastline. From 1901 to the late 1950s, this hotel served as a getaway resort, a social gathering place, and a spot to get a true New England clambake.
Around the turn of the 20th century, American workers started to gain more and more leisure time, thanks to both the labor movement and the Great Depression. In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act created a 44-hour work week, which would later become today’s 40-hour work week. As time outside of the workplace increased, vacations– especially for the middle and upper class– became more popular.
The hotel was built by Gilbert and Hattie Brackett, after selling their dry goods shop in Boston and purchasing the land from a family member. Because of Hattie’s vacations to the Berkshires in her youth and having taken in seasonal boarders to pay for expenses during their early days in Marblehead, the couple decided to start a resort.
In the early years of the hotel, they hosted notable guests such as Alpha Delta Pi, the first national sorority for women, and PResident Calvin Coolidge. It was in these years that the hotel truly prospered.
For people with time off and disposable income, the Rockmere was an attractive choice. It had 94 rooms, a private beachfront, and function space for dancing, conventions, or a “fashion show,” as one advertisement states. In 1929, the restaurant Fo’Cas’Le opened, along with a nautical themed ballroom.
The Rockmere Hotel leaned into its nautical identity. The interior was decorated with various parts of boats and ships: canons of the USS Constitution served as decor on Fo’Cas’Le’s bar along with lights from a submarine. Outside, a massive anchor welcomed those driving up to the Rockmere.
In the 1930s however, vacationers changed– and so did the hotel’s owners. The Bracketts’ sons, Raymond and G. Paul, sold the hotel to the Fox and Hounds Club of Boston. In 1941, it was sold again to Resort Hotels, Inc. which was owned and operated by the Vacassouvich family of Marblehead. It became the Quarterdeck Yacht Club 1958, five years before it was closed for good in 1963.
At present, the condominiums of Glover’s Landing stand where the Rockmere used to. Though it no longer towers over the ocean, it lives on in drawings, photographs, and of course, the hearts of people who spent time there.
A special thanks to Peter Stacey of the Marblehead Historical Commission for suggesting the Rockmere Hotel.