Buoys on netted fishing shack at Beauport Hotel Gloucester

Historical Landmarks and Museums on Cape Ann

Cape Ann is known for its stunning ocean views, sandy beaches, and rocky shores. But did you know that the towns on Cape Ann played an integral role in the history of the state and nation? 

From Essex to Manchester-By-The-Sea and from Gloucester to Rockport, there are historical sites, landmarks, and museums to explore that will connect you to the rich maritime and local history of this unique region. Let’s review some of the many sites, landmarks, and museums that you can explore as you visit these North Shore towns.


A great place to start exploring the history, art, and culture of the region is within the walls of some of the museums of Cape Ann.

Cape Ann Museum

Located at 27 Pleasant Street in Gloucester, Cape Ann Museum offers exhibitions, events, tours, and educational programs. This American art and history museum offers insights into the community of Cape Ann.  

 According to their website, “Cape Ann Museum is comprised of two campuses, our Downtown Campus located at 27 Pleasant Street, Gloucester, MA and the Cape Ann Museum Green located at 13 Poplar Street, Gloucester, MA.” While the Downtown Campus is open year round 6 days a week offering a glimpse into the history of the region from the colonial era to the 19th century, the Museum Green is a seasonal program. 

The Downtown Campus offers seven main galleries and five ancillary ones, each exploring a particular aspect of the region's history and culture through permanent and special exhibitions. Particular focus is given to local artists such as Gloucester native Fitz Henry Lane as well as well-known painters and sculptors such as John Sloan, Marsden Hartley, Milton Avery, Katharine Lane Weems, Paul Manship, and Walker Hancock.

Manchester Historical Museum

Located at 10 Union Street in Manchester-By-The-Sea, the Manchester Historical Museum is home to a collection of objects, paintings, and archives pertaining to Manchester and its past. The museum is housed in the 1823 Abigail Hooper Trask House and offers a schedule of events that allows visitors to understand the history of the town and the region.

Essex Shipbuilding Museum

This maritime museum located in Essex, Massachusetts contains historical and demonstrative displays regarding the history of the wooden shipbuilding industry in Essex. A visit to downtown Essex to view the Essex Shipbuilding Museum will not only allow you to view artifacts from centuries of fishing and shipbuilding but also a shipyard where you can take classes and learn more about the process of wooden shipbuilding and how it impacted the economy and history of this region.

Rockport Art Association Museum

Located on Main Street in the village of Rockport, Massachusetts, Rockport’s Art Association and Museum offers “Education, Exhibits & History” of the region. Exhibits include historic American artists as well as local artists. Workshops are offered on their schedule of events and provide in-person workshops and classes in a variety of art mediums and techniques, suited to all levels of skill.

Hammond Castle Museum

This unique museum sits on the Atlantic Ocean on the bluffs of Gloucester’s outer harbor. The museum was built by a scientist and inventor in the 1920s. The mansion has pristine gardens and manicured lawns that adorn this medieval-style castle. Guided and self-guided tours are available. The venue is often used for photographs including European-inspired architecture as well as for weddings, parties, and dinners. Hammond Castle Museum offers unique artifacts and sweeping ocean views you won’t soon forget.

Sargent House Museum

Located in downtown Gloucester, the Sargent House Museum offers an early history of Gloucester from its beginnings as a farming and fishing outpost to its evolution into a premier and innovative seaport.

During your visit take a tour of the collection of artwork by John Singer Sargent and Emily Sargent watercolor exhibit. You can also learn about Judith Sargent Murray’s advocacy of women’s education and equality in the 18th Century. 

Cape Ann Landmarks

This area is rich in history and there are landmarks all around the four towns that comprise Cape Ann. Some of the landmarks include

Cape Ann’s history from the pre-colonial era through modern innovation is rich and has impacted the region greatly. Explore these beginnings and the evolution of the region through these landmarks and museums on Cape Ann.