Hull is a peninsula town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 10,293 at the 2010 census. Hull is the smallest town by land area in Plymouth County and the fourth smallest in the state. However, its population density is within the top thirty towns in the state.
Hull has been the summer home to several luminaries throughout the years, including Calvin Coolidge and former Boston mayor John F. Fitzgerald (also known as "Honey Fitz"), the father of Rose Kennedy and father-in-law of Joseph Kennedy, Sr..
The Massachusetts tribe called the area Nantasket, meaning "at the strait" or "low-tide place." It is a series of islands connected by sandbars forming Nantasket Peninsula, on which the Plymouth Colony established a trading post in 1621 for trade with the Wampanoags. The town was first settled in 1622 and officially incorporated in 1644, when it was named for Kingston upon Hull, England. Roger Conant was in the area, after leaving the Plymouth Colony and before going to Cape Ann in 1625. Early industries included fishing, trade and salvaging shipwrecks. During the Revolutionary War, General Benjamin Lincoln oversaw the evacuation of Boston from here in 1778.
Hull was originally part of Suffolk County, and when the southern part of the county was set off as Norfolk County in 1793, it included the towns of Hull and Hingham. In 1803 those towns opted out of Norfolk County and became part of Plymouth County.
Lifesaving has been an important part of Hull history. The Massachusetts Humane Society placed one of its first Huts of Refuge on Nantasket Beach after the American Revolution. When it expanded its boat houses for lifeboats it placed several in Hull at Stoney Beach, on Nantasket Beach, and near Cohasset. Joshua James (1826–1902), Hull's most famous lifesaver, became the first Keeper of the Pt. Allerton U.S. Life Saving Station, when it opened in 1889. James and his crews, both Humane Society volunteers and U.S. Life-Savers, are estimated to have saved over 1000 people from shipwrecks. The exact number is not known because Massachusetts Humane Society records were lost in the Great Boston Fire of 1872. The Hull Lifesaving Museum is now located in the 1889 Pt. Allerton Life Saving Station, with the Museum's Maritime Program housed in the old Coast Guard boathouse at Pemberon Point. The new U.S. Coast Guard Station Point Allerton opened at the edge of Hull Village near Pemberton Point in 1969.
Hull features Nantasket Beach, with fine, light gray sand—generally considered one of the finest beaches in New England. At low tide, there are acres of sandy tide pools. Beginning the community's development as a tourist resort, in 1825 Paul Worrick established the Sportsman Hotel on Nantasket Avenue. More hotels were built, and by 1840, steamboats made three trips a day between the town and Boston.
Following the crowds onto the boardwalks were gamblers, pickpockets and confidence men, so Paragon Park was built as a safe place for those seeking amusement. Called a "marvel of fantasy," it once featured a ride based on the Johnstown Flood. The complex closed in 1984 when the property was sold for condominium development. Today, the only surviving remnants of Paragon Park on the boardwalk are the historic carousel and clock tower.