Swampscott is a town in Essex County, Massachusetts, United States located up the coast from Boston in an area known as the North Shore. The population was 13,787 as of 2010. A former summer resort on Massachusetts Bay, Swampscott is today a fairly affluent residential community and includes the village of Beach Bluff, as well as part of the neighborhood of Clifton. It is known for its quiet suburban character and beaches. The town is home to Marian Court College.
Swampscott was first settled in 1629 as the eastern part (Ward One) of Lynn, and was set off and officially incorporated in 1852. A beach town north of Boston, measuring , and abutting Salem, Marblehead and Lynn, Swampscott was an important destination for the wealthy at the beginning of the 20th century. While Revere Beach, which lies just several miles down the road, has the honor of technically being America's first public beach, Swampscott was the de facto first resort town. Lynn was the divider between the poor beach and the rich resort town. The name "Swampscott" comes from the language of a local native American tribe. The following is verbatim from the official Swampscott web page: "History of Swampscott."
Early historical accounts of Swampscott indicated that the Native Americans referred to Swampscott as M’sqiompsk meaning red rock. It then became M’squompskut, for the phrase “at Red Rock” because of the red granite outcroppings that were visible to those offshore.
Originally part of the large Saugus land grant and later the eastern part of Lynn's Ward One, Swampscott was settled and established in 1629 when Francis Ingalls came and built the first Massachusetts Bay Colony tannery on Humphrey's Brook. Long known as a seafaring fishing village, Swampscott hosted a large commercial fishing fleet which sailed daily from our protected bay. Early accounts of Swampscott considered it a "community of modest means" and indicated that one man in three was a fisherman. Of the rest, a goodly number were shoemakers (also known as "cordwainers"), shoe cutters (known as "clickers"), yeomen or farmers and merchants.
In the late 18th century, Ebenezer Phillips learned the dry fish process from the Naumkeags and set up a processing facility for cod whereby the cod was dried, put in barrels and shipped all over the world. Phillips’ business was a success and he became one of this country's first millionaires.
From its fishing interests, Swampscott reached worldwide status as the place where Ebenezer Thorndike invented the lobster pot in 1808 to revolutionize lobster harvesting. Lobstering today is still extremely popular. The yacht club in Swampscott makes it easy for people to be able to access their boats and begin lobstering. Also, The Swampscott Dory, a fishing boat still in use throughout the world today, was invented in 1840 by Ralfus Brackett to row and to pull lobster pots. The dory was considered the best seaworthy boat for fishermen due to its unique flat-bottomed design.
Swampscott separated from Lynn when a group of 97 petitioners told the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts that: 1. They are situated somewhat remote from the central portion of Lynn; and 2. That their business is different from that of the principal part of Lynn; and 3. That their convenience and interests would be promoted by a separate government, especially after the citizens of Lynn opted to switch from a town to a city form of government.
Lynn offered no substantial opposition, so the legislature passed an enabling act which authorized the organization of a separate town government under the date of May 21, 1852. On October 9, 1852 Lynn was paid $5,450.00 for the land it lost to the new community now known as the "Town of Swampscott." In 1857, land at the far western edge of Salem known as the "Salem Finger" was annexed to Swampscott, bringing the total land area to .
Andrew Preston, founder of the United Fruit Company, had one of the major summer estates in Swampscott. The Preston estate covered over and included its own golf course. Architect Arthur Little built several of the first shingle-styled homes in Swampscott, all expansive summer homes with ocean views and most with ballrooms.
None of the large hotels remain standing today, most having been destroyed by fire or savage coastal storms, and most of the large estates have been subdivided into single family homes although some still remain to this day. Home prices vary from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than five million depending upon ocean view, desirable view of the Boston skyline, and size as some homes can be quite large. Swampscott's quiet suburban character, many beaches, good school system, and easy access to Boston make it a very desirable town to live and raise a family in.
Nevertheless, Swampscott has retained the essence of a quiet setting along the north shore of the Atlantic Ocean with the soothing sounds of the ocean lapping along the seashore.
Swampscott's public school system includes three elementary schools, Hadley School, Clarke School, and Stanley School, one middle school, Swampscott Middle School, and one high school, Swampscott High School. The Machon elementary school was shuttered in 2008/9, but the property remains on the district's rolls. A new building was completed in 2007 for Swampscott High School.  In 2011, The Town of Swampscott is working out the details of installing a massive wind turbine, with the approximate height of a 30 story building on the property of the Swampscott Middle School. When installed it is expected to generate a little more than half of the power for the middle school.