The Barque Hill Association was established in 1962 to manage the conservation areas and other common lands reserved for Barque Hill. Originally, it was also responsible for maintaining residential design standards by reviewing and approving construction plans for each dwelling.
Norwell was originally part of Scituate settled in the early 1620’s upon the arrival of the first Europeans settlers within Plymouth County. In 1849 the town became a separate community known as South Scituate. In 1888 the townspeople, desiring to eliminate confusion with the town of the same name in Rhode Island, renamed their town after a prominent summer resident, Henry Norwell. Records indicate that Norwell is the only town so named in the world.
The story of the North River is the story of the rolling countryside of Barque Hill. The River and Barque Hill have a colorful history which extends back into the 1600’s. The settlers used the salt marshes to reap salt hay for cattle forage. Tillable land was scarce, white oak abundant, and soon the settlers turned to the deep-draft North River and shipbuilding. Numerous shipyards flourished along the banks of the winding River in the golden age of enterprising New England seafarers. The vessels built here were known as the “North River” ships.
The “Columbia,” a North River ship, was built at Hobart’s Landing and was the first American-built ship to circumnavigate the Globe. “Columbia” carried the discoverers of the Columbia River in Oregon, from which it was named. The Space Shuttle Columbia was named after this famous sloop.
In 1812, the 464-ton “Mount Vernon” was built at the Wanton Yard, known as the river’s largest. Over one thousand ships were launched during the two centuries of shipbuilding. The last vessel to be launched on the North River was the schooner “Helen M. Foster” in 1871.
Norwell Associates acquired property in 1962 to develop a residential area. Together with Sasaki, Walker and Associates, prominent site planners and landscape architects, a thorough site plan, known as Barque Hill, was developed to be compatible with the unique history and aesthetic beauty of Norwell.
Barque Hill is named in honor of the vessels and the tradition of the North River shipyards, where barques, schooners, brigantines and Gundalows (flat-bottom boats) were constructed.
Shipyard Park, an area reserved for use by Barque Hill residents and their guests, is the site of the original Fox Hill Shipyard (1690-1869) which built over fifty-six vessels between 29 and 390 tons. Rainbow Bridge over Third Herring Brook was a shortcut for ship workers going to Fox Hill Yard. Barque Hill Common is the old Mustering Ground used by the settlers as a training ground to fight hostile Indians during King Philip’s War in 1676. During a raid, Rose Cottage, which was rebuilt and stands today, was partially burned. Till Rock Park, overlooking the river, is the site of what is known as an “erratic”, a boulder trapped and transported in the glacier from another location and left in place when the glacial ice which transported it then melted.
To this day, there are many beautiful venues on and along the river sought after by historians, photographers, artists and simply those who live and travel here to appreciate the outdoors, activities and life style that being alongside the North River so graciously affords.