High Rock Tower is the crown jewel of High Rock Reservation in the Highlands neighborhood of Lynn, Massachusetts.
The 5.5-acre plot of land on which the tower sits was purchased by Jesse Hutchinson and other members of his family in the 1840s. The Hutchinson Family Singers were a politically prominent abolitionist singing group who toured the northern United States from the 1840s to about 1880. The wooden tower was completed in 1847by local architect, Alonzo Lewis. Two Gothic cottages and an auditorium were also built on the land.
On August 17, 1858, an estimated 8,000 people gathered at the old wooden High Rock Tower to commemorate the completion of the first transatlantic telegraph cable, which had been laid the day before. Additionally, during the first year of the Civil War, the Hutchinsons staged nightly rallies and concerts there. The tower did burn down during a celebration of the Fall of Richmond and the Civil War’s end in April of 1865.
In 1904, the town of Lynn acquired the land previously owned by the Hutchinson family to create the High Rock Reservation. The following year, in 1905, the new 85-foot stone High Rock Tower was built on the land. H.K. Wheeler and Charles Betton served as the architects of the project. The top level of the tower used to include a domed observatory, which was eventually dismantled and replaced. In 1906, the tower was formally dedicated. The tower offers stunning views of Boston, Nahant, Swampscott, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Speaking of views, the city of Lynn’s huge 12 inch Meade telescope is located at the top of High Rock Tower. The lenses are powerful enough to see Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, galaxies, star clusters, nebulae, and many more night sky wonders. Visitors can also examine the craters, valleys, and hills of the moon’s surface, discern between different star formations, and gain a deeper appreciation and grasp of basic astronomy using the High Rock telescope.
In 1979, the tower and adjacent park structures (listed as “High Rock Tower–High Rock Cottage and Daisy Cottage”) were added on the National Register of Historic Places. The Trust for Public Land has conserved the acres surrounding the tower, which were transferred to the City of Lynn in 1988. The city of Lynn has made the tower and observatory available to the public for free use of the telescope on a regular basis.
Looking for more great spots to explore nearby? Check out the GoXplr Massachusetts Map at goxplr.com/map/massachusetts!
- Opened: 1905
- Original function: Personal tower for Jesse Hutchinson and his family
- Architect(s): Lewis and Harney & Wheeler and Betton
- Year added to NRHP: 1979
- NRHP number: 9000086
- Status: Public
- Admission cost: Free
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