David S. Lynch Memorial Park has a long and storied past. These sixteen acres were originally known as Woodbury's Point. During the Revolutionary War, Beverly was immensely important to the Patriot cause, particularly after the British closed Boston Harbor in June 1774. The "Birthplace of the American Navy," Beverly was depended upon to disrupt British supply lines. Woodbury Point's fort with its seven gun battery was in turn relied upon to protect the important port.
In later years, Boston's elite looked to the North Shore's Gold Coast to build their vast summer homes. Woodbury's Point eventually became Burgess Point which came to be controlled by the Evans family. The Evans' transformed the estate into one of the finest on the North Shore. In the summers of 1909 and 1910, President Taft leased the Stetson cottage which stood on today's Rose Garden. He made the cottage his summer White House. Beverly basked in the world's spotlight, as important leaders from around the world came to "Beverly Massachusetts, Garden City and Summer Capitol of the United States". Taft signed the "Treaty of Beverly" here, which laid the foundation for future U.S. tariff policies.
After the summer of 1910, President Taft was informed by Mrs. Evans that his summer White House would no longer be available to him, as she was planning to construct an Italian Rose Garden in its place. Rumor has it that Mrs. Evans was annoyed with the bustle that accompanied her esteemed tenant. The Secret Service constantly stopped, questioned and badgered her guests, while souvenir seekers dug up her garden, climbed her trees and even ripped off pieces of her house. The President moved to Corning Street and the cottage was moved by barge to Peache's Point in Marblehead, where it can still be seen today.
Mrs. Evans then built, within the foundation of the cottage, the sunken Italian Rose Garden we see today. Rare plants and shrubs were imported from around the world.
"The Falconer" on its white marble base stands guard between the Lynch Park Rose Garden and the seawall. The statue was inspired by the original "Falconer" in Central Park which was in sight of Mr. Evans' window as he lay sick in a New York hospital. After his recovery he had it commissioned and cast at the Gorham Foundry in Newburyport in the 1920s.
The original Falconer, sculpted by George Blackall Simonds in 1872, can be found near West 72nd street in Central Park in New York. Another copy of the statue can be found at the Society of Fine Art at Trieste. Simonds (1844-1929) was "Master of the English Art Workers' Guild" from 1884-1885. The Falconer has been referred to as his best-known work. The method used in the sculpture of the Falconer was the lost wax-casting method.
The Falconer depicts a larger than life-sized "Elizabethan" costumed youth striding forward with his right leg while releasing a falcon from his outstretched left hand. The idealized Greek form and finely detailed surface give rise to the prominence and power of the Falconer's "conqueror of nature" theme.
After the deaths of the Evans, Mrs. Evans' sisters, Belle and Abbie Hunt took over the land. Miss Belle purchased the adjoining property and Monastery in 1927 from Elizabeth Sohier. It was remodeled as a replica of a villa of which Miss Belle was very fond and had occupied for many years in Florence, Italy. Doors from a prehistoric Chinese temple were shipped back by the sisters when touring the Orient. Extravagantly furnished, a stream of running water flowed in a cascade beside the interior staircase and on the huge fireplace was inscribed the poem, "What to Talk," by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. On the ocean side, a stone wall from the Monastery ended in a little tower. Miss Belle used to occasionally mount the steps into the cupola and watch workmen on the estate, unobserved.
Sadly, it was destroyed by arson in 1966.
Where does David S. Lynch fit in you ask? He owned a leather manufacturing plant and never lived on the land that now bears his name. He traveled extensively and once in London passed a group of people peering into a beautiful park from behind iron gates. He asked the people why they didn't go inside and enjoy the park's natural splendor. When told it was a private park, he vowed to make sure that everyone in his native Beverly would have a scenic place to go and enjoy the outdoors. He died in 1942 and bequeathed $400,000 to the Lynch Park Board of Trustees to buy and maintain a public park. Meanwhile, the Hunt sisters died in 1936, and left their land to Beverly Hospital. By the early forties, the hospital, with the land's expensive upkeep, was having problems finding a useful purpose for it. It was an ideal situation for both buyer and seller. $50,000 later the city had a new public park. David S. Lynch Memorial Park was born. The deed was transferred to the city on June 23, 1943. The rest is indeed history...
Lynch Park was sold to the city from the Beverly Hospital Corporation in 1943. Then known as the Hunt property, Lynch Park was left to the Beverly Hospital Corporation in the will of Belle Hunt with the thought that the Monastery would be used for patients leaving the hospital.
The boundaries of the property were described in both the "Agreement of Sale" and the deed as Ober Street, the Atlantic Ocean, and land formerly owned by William D. Sohier, Rice, and Shuman. The amount of the purchase was $50,000 to be paid by the money left to the city by David S. Lynch. The "Agreement of Sale" is dated April 5, 1943 and signed by Frederick Ayer, President of the Beverly Hospital Corporation and Daniel E. McLean, Mayor of Beverly. The deed is dated June 23, 1943.