coast defense

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Strawberry Point

Strawberry Point is an isolated peninsula of rocky ledges on its east side and salt marshes on its west, encompassing about 200 acres in North Scituate, MA. The center of the peninsula (where the large fire control tower now looms over the landscape) is heavily wooded, with 40-foot trees rising over a thick tangle of brush and vines. Almost all of the non-marshy area seems to be underlain by rock ledge which is exposed in many places.

Today the Point is owned by a residential corporation--a gated community that occupies the entire promentory and is cut off from the rest of the town. From roughly 1850 until the 1940s, an organization called The Glades Club owned the Point and built a three-story, wooden hotel at which its members could take the sea air. Although the old hotel survives, The Glades Club did not. Access to the Point is controlled, but the area can be visited with permission.

Between 1940 and 1943, the government acquired roughly 16 acres on Strawberry Point for the construction of fire control stations for the Coast Artillery, and Strawberry Point then became the center of the southern wing of Boston Harbor's fire control network. The tallest fire control towers in this network (those of five stories or more) provided the backbone of Boston's fire control capability, and the map in Slide 1 at left shows how the inner-most of these taller towers were arrayed along the coast. The sketch map by the Army Engineers in Side 2 then details where the fire control structures on Strawberry Point were situated.

The first such structure ob Strawberry Point was a 5-story, 40-foot steel tower that included a two-level, steel-plated observation station (unique in the Boston defenses). It was completed on December 4, 1941, three days before Pearl Harbor. This was followed by three more fire structures--an 8-story concrete tower (like those at Pt. Allerton and Nahant) and two lower-profile, wooden-sided concrete cottages. Also, a 100-foot tower, topped by a 14-foot concealed radar antenna, sitting on a 54-foot tall ridge at the center of the Point, was erected to track seaward targets.

, as shown by the map in Slide 1 at left, which displays the arc of the tallest fire control towers near Boston. Lower-elevation fire control structures were sited on the Harbor Islands, and an extended set of "long-range" structures streteched five locations farther north from Coolidge Point and two locations further south from Fourth Cliff. Both the 16-inch guns of Btty Long in Hull and the 6-inch guns of Btty 208 at Fourth Cliff (the southernmost big guns in the Boston system) had base end stations on Strawberry Point.


Then, by 1944,

The cottage fire control structures are the last surviving ones of their type in the Boston defenses. These stations consisted of reinforced concrete buildings with concrete towers (and attached wooden barracks spaces) that had their walls covered with fake shingling and windows so that they would more closely resemble ordinary seaside cottages.


General Maps

  • Tall-Towers-Noted-2
    This Google map has been annotated by the author to indicate the locations of the closest fire control towers to Boston Harbor that are over five stories in height. Strawberry Pt. had one 8-story and one 5-story tower. These towers, together with the two lower fire control cottages, made Strawberry Pt. the most significant fire control location covering the southern approaches to the harbor.
  • USE-Map
    This wartime map of Strawberry Pt. shows the two centrally located fire control towers, called Sites 1A (8-story concrete tower) and 1C (5-story steel tower). The radar tower next to the 1A tower was called Site 1E. The two lower fire control cottages were Sites 1B (west) and 1D (east). Three of these structures (with the exception of the 1E radar tower and the 1C steel tower) survive to the present (2010) and are in excellent condition.