Rocky Point 3 The Shore Dinner Hall
The Shore Dinner
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, one of the most heralded events in New England was the Rocky Point Clam Dinner. These dinners were so popular that over a thousand bushels of clams a day were consumed. Under master showman Randall A. Harrington, the shore dinner hall was enlarged to a seating capacity of 2500. One of the most memorable clambakes was that held for the 40th reunion of the Army of the Potomac in 1904, when over 250 veterans of the Civil War and their guests came from all areas of the United States.
Bands & Baseball
Advertising brochures in 1913 pointed out, "In short, Rocky Point is a park of eighty-nine acres bristling with attractions at every turn, so varied that everyone finds his favorite recreation so tremendous in extent that with a throng of 75,000 people on the grounds, there is still room for many thousands more." In the early 1900s, the park had a large bandstand on the Midway, a "New Carousel" with "four rows of jumping horses, and an $8000 organ, largest and finest in America, which produced the effect of a 60-piece band."
Under Harrington's leadership, Rocky Point always presented something new and exciting and catered to many different interests and tastes, from opera presentations to the latest vaudeville acts. For those whose love for baseball was great, Harrington arranged for the Providence Grays to play their Sunday home games at the park's baseball diamond. Here, on almost any Sunday, a thousand spectators would pack the bleachers and grandstand to watch the Grays create baseball history. The Rocky Point Ball Grounds were also available for field sports or contests of any kind; and this was a major attraction for ethnic groups and mill-sponsored teams.
Rocky Point Fires
In 1906, Rocky Point suffered another in a series of devastating fires. In the 1890s, the Rocky Point hotel, ice cream parlor and shore dinner hall had been totally destroyed, as there was no fire apparatus to aid in putting out the blaze. Once again, in 1906, it was reported that, "There were no means at hand with which to combat the flames." Buckets of water were the only means available and, as there was a shortage of men on hand to man the buckets, women from the area rushed to the scene and volunteered their services. Col. R. A. Harrington, in true showmanship style, accepted the loss and "genially added that he will charge his patrons nothing extra for a view of the ruins."
One of the most popular events at Rocky Point was the famous clambake. At the height of its popularity, the bake was prepared under the supervision of Charles E. Lyon. Clams in tremendous quantities were needed to take care of the thousands who poured into the park. To seat the throngs, the shore dinner hall had to be enlarged and even with a seating capacity of twenty-five hundred, there were long lines waiting to dine. Here the staff is making sure that all is ready for the crowds that were sure to come.
From the Henry A. L. Brown Collection.