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SWAMPSCOTT — The historic Fish House will soon have newly renovated public bathrooms.
The Select Board voted last Thursday to authorize Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald to submit contract bids for the project.
“The Fish House is such a historic and iconic property on the Massachusetts seacoast,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s really a gem in terms of the waterfront.”
“It’s the only continuously operating fish house on the east coast of the United States, and it really connects Swampscott’s maritime history to the Commonwealth’s maritime history. It really is a special spot,” he said.
Over the past few years, Fitzgerald said, the town has been investing in repairs to the Humphrey Street building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The roof and other woodwork have been repaired and a deck was added, and the town is continuing to work with the Swampscott Yacht Club, located in the building, to expand the public uses of the structure.
The renovations will include two bathrooms with changing stations, and will be fully accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“We want folks to enjoy going to the beaches and really have facilities that are accessible,” Fitzgerald said.
According to the Swampscott Historical Commission, the Fish House was built in 1896 and designed by architect Henry Warren Rogers. It is the oldest working fish house in the country and the only one that is municipally owned. It serves as a base for some of the approximately 20 commercial fishermen that operate out of the town’s harbor, as well as headquarters for the Yacht Club and the town’s sailing program and harbormaster.
In addition to the bathroom renovation, ongoing repairs and maintenance to the building are included in the town’s capital plan. The town also plans to look to the state for funding for portions of the preservation work, although a 2017 grant application was unsuccessful.
In February, Swampscott received a grant of $80,000 from the Massachusetts Seaport Economic Council for upgrades to the town pier, which extends from the Fish House building.
Tréa Lavery can be reached at [email protected]
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The historic Fish House is seen from the town pier in Swampscott. (Julia Hopkins)
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