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 Massachuset 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. In 1776 a fort called “Fort Independence” (name transferred to the current fort in 1797) was built on Allerton Point, and in 1901 Fort Revere was built on the same site. In 1927 Fort Duvall was completed on Hog Island (now Spinnaker Island) armed with 16-inch guns, the largest ever deployed by the United States.
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 Pemberton Point. The new U.S. Coast Guard Station Point Allerton opened at the edge of Hull Village near Pemberton Point in 1969.