Many people have fond memories of The Pines Hotel on Ocean View Avenue in Cotuit.
The Pines was “a family resort”—no alcohol, no gambling—but a fine sandy beach, an ice cream parlor, plentiful home-cooked food, sailboats for rent, private sea captains’ cottages, and rides to fresh water ponds for picnics. Families came by railroad from Chicago, Cleveland and Cincinnati to spend the whole summer.
It began in 1891, when Lizzie Nickerson Morse opened a boarding house in her home which was built about 1845 by her grandfather Samuel Dottridge. The next year Lizzie and her husband, Maine-born John Morse, built a three-story building with 33 rooms. On 15 June 1894 they opened The Pines Hotel and put on a great Fourth of July celebration with boat races, a sawing match, and clambake.
With a sandy beach, just inside the entrance to Cotuit Harbor, The Pines had a row of beach rooms which still stand today. Bathing rules required men to wear full tops to bathing suits, and women’s legs to be covered with black long-johns, as well as skirts.
Lizzie and John Morse ran The Pines until their deaths in 1908 and 1910 respectively. The hotel was inherited by their only surviving child, Nita Converse Morse, age 18. She ran it with her husband Calvin D. Crawford for half a century. Both were community leaders. Nita founded the Historical Society in her grandfather’s house in 1957.
Rooms in 1913 cost $13 a week, American plan, which included three meals. A bathhouse was an extra two dollars. Their son David Crawford said rates were set by Nita each year on a Sunday afternoon by asking, “Lord, I’ve got my pencil out”—How much for room # 1?
David remembered that The Pines provided “the best food I’ve ever had—all you wanted to eat…Steamed clams every night, beef once a week, steak, lobster.” Vegetables were home grown.
Rather than expanding the hotel itself, in 1914 the Crawfords began buying neighboring sea captain’s houses. To renters these had the advantage of being able to serve your own cocktails.
In 1920 the Pines added the Pine Tree Tea Room in the former home of the insurance magnate Alexander Adams next to the hotel. This became the favorite afternoon meeting place for ice cream and sodas.
After World War II the Pines added Evergreen, the Rolosons’ huge 24 room mansion behind the hotel. This addition brought two more cottages, and a wider stretch of sandy beach. Evergreen was used for special guests, such as the mother-in-law of future Governor Dukakis.
After the war American vacation habits changed; shorter stays, more overseas trips. With regret, the Crawfords closed the Pines in 1958. The hotel and tearoom were torn down and the cottages were sold, except for the Dottridge house which Nita turned into the home of the Historical Society of Santuit and Cotuit.
Barnstable Enterprise 30 Sept. 2011