330 First Parish Rd, Scituate, MA 02066, USA
Owned By: Scituate Historical Society
Lawson Tower, located in Scituate, is a historic structure built in the style of a European castle turret. Open to the public only on certain days, it offers far-reaching views of the area. Don’t miss the bell concerts! Nearby, visit Lawson Common.
In 1900, the Scituate Water Company erected a 153-foot tall water tank in the geographic center of town. Thomas Lawson and his wife Jeannie, who were establishing their 1,000-acre country estate, Dreamwold, next door, funded the effort to enclose the tank in a more visually-appealing structure, based on a 15th century watch tower observed by the Lawsons’ architect on The Rhine.
There is a clock at the top of the tower, as well as a bell chamber with an elaborate set of bells, ranging in size from 300 to 3,000 lbs. Inside, there is a 123-step staircase. Lawson Tower is listed as an American Water Landmark and in the National Register of Historic Places.
According to the Scituate Historical Society, Thomas Lawson (1857-1925) was one of the wealthiest men in America in the late 19th century. He earned his fortune through stock market investments, with a focus on copper mining.
Dreamwold was described by the Scituate Historical Society as “a sprawling family home with acres of gardens. The farm was replete with world-class pedigrees and housing to suit their specific needs. There were different stables for the multiple breeds of horses, a riding academy, and a race track; stock barns; dog kennels; poultry and bantam houses and a dovecote for the show birds; and support buildings such as a blacksmith shop, post office, fire house, gatehouse, and employee housing.” Three elaborate sets of gates marked the entrances to the estate.
The estate is now gone. (Lawson’s worth grew to $60 million at one point, but he died penniless and had to divide and sell his estate to pay down debt.) One set of gates from the estate remain, as well as Lawson Tower. You can view the gates at the corner of Branch Street and Bossy Lane, across the street from Lawson Common. Read more at the Scituate Historical Society’s website.
The Town of Scituate purchased the bells and clock from Lawson in 1923. In 1931, it purchased the tower itself from the Scituate Water Co. The water tank remained in use by the town until 1988.
This land is within the region of the Massachusett (or Massachuseuk). To learn more about local Native American tribes, we encourage you to interact with their members. The Mattakeeset band of the Massachusett, and the Massachusett tribe at Ponkapoag, both share information on their websites.
Located behind the First Parish Unitarian Church, next to Central Park Housing. The tower and gardens are open to the public on Scituate Historical Society Open House dates, published each year.
Habitats and Wildlife
Lawson Tower stands in a grassy area with some hardwood trees around the perimeter. It is located within the watershed of Satuit Brook, which empties into the Atlantic Ocean at Scituate Harbor.
Historic Site: Yes
Boat Launch: No
Size: 1 acre
Hours: Open on rare occasions every year. See Scituate Historical Society for details.
Parking: Parking is available at First Parish Unitarian Church, 330 First Parish Road.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Satuit Brook watershed