From St. Paul’s Church, look across Fearing St. to the current site of the Post Office.

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Overview

In the late 19th/early 20th century, the Cushing House hotel, located here, employed Irish immigrant women who cooked and cleaned. George Cushing had acquired an existing hotel in 1872 and made it quite grand, adding a mansard roof and Italian awnings, a laundry and billiard room, with a piazza and a lawn. Stable was at the rear of hotel. Fresh water was piped in from Accord Pond in 1880. The hotel operated through the 1930s. The structure was razed in 1949.

Historic records suggest that domestic service at hotels and in private homes accounted for about 70% of female Irish immigrant employment in the U.S. in the late 19th century. As written about in the book The Irish Bridget: Irish Immigrant Women in Domestic Service in America, 1840-1930. (Margaret Lynch-Brennan, Syracuse University Press, 2009,) many of these young, single hard-working Irish immigrant women were referred to here and elsewhere as “the Bridgets.”

Young, unmarried immigrant Irish women also worked in some of the more affluent homes in Hingham during the late 19th/20th centuries, as live-in domestic help, cooking and providing other maid service for these families. Examples from the 1900 census records are:

  • Catherine Higgins, born in Ireland in 1879, working as a domestic for the Bouve family on Summer Street near Hingham Harbor.
  • Mary A. Crowley, born in Ireland in 1872, and Helena A. Murphy, born in Ireland in 1878, who both then worked in the Alfred Hersey home on Summer Street.