The name Cohasset comes from the Native American word “Quonohasset” which means, “long rocky place”. When Hingham was founded in 1635, its eastern section was called Conahasset, an area with meadows where salt hay was harvested. The first homes were built soon after 1670 and by 1700 small shipyards were located today’s harbor.
In 1717 Cohasset became Hingham’s second precinct allowing residents to hire their own clergy and teachers and built their own meetinghouse and schools. Prior to this time, residents of Conahasset were required to travel to Hingham for church services, schooling and town meetings. Following years of debate about whether to separate from Hingham, Cohasset was incorporated as a separate town on April 26, 1770.
Shipbuilding and mackerel fishing expanded in the early 1880s. During the 1870s Cohasset’s maritime industry was on the decline but its scenic beauty and cool ocean breezes were discovered by actors and wealthy Bostonians who began summering here and building large estates. Yachts replaced fishing schooners in the harbor.
In the early years of the 20th century, Cohasset benefited from forward thinking individuals who formed associations to acquire large tracts of land for public recreation and conservation. The 1930s and 1940s saw the large summer estates being transformed to year around residences. By the 1950s Cohasset had become increasingly suburban with many residents commuting to Boston.
Cohasset Historical Society
The Cohasset Historical Society was founded to preserve and collect the unique and rich history of the town. The Society operates three historic sites: the 1903 Pratt Building, its headquarters and archival library; and the seasonal museums, the 1810 Captain John Wilson House, and the ca. 1750s Bates Ship Chandlery or Maritime Museum. The Society’s collection includes more than 25,000 objects. Our holdings include a significant costume and textile collection, maritime artifacts, 19th century paintings and watercolors, decorative arts and furnishings, and an extensive local amateur and professional theater archives.