In 1681, Hingham's 140 families raised the money to construct the Old Ship Meeting House. Still in active use, it is recognized as the oldest wooden church structure and the oldest church building in continuous use in America.
The 20th century saw war change the face of Hingham dramatically. In 1906, the U.S. Navy began construction of an ammunition depot for the North Atlantic Fleet, on the east side of the Weymouth Back River in Hingham. A new spur from the Greenbush line near West Hingham Station connected to a vast network of tracks leading to underground storage bunkers.
In 1941, with insufficient room for expansion of the Hingham Ammunition Depot, the Navy began construction of an annex on the border of Hingham, Cohasset and Norwell, in the present location of Wompatuck State Park. Seven square miles were used for a huge ammunition depot.
The Hingham Shipyard has a proud and colorful past. The Bradley family originally owned the site and the estate consisted of more than one hundred acres that included a horse farm, a polo field and a private airport.
At the outbreak of World War II, the US Navy acquired the Bradley Estate and together with the Bethlehem Steel Company built a wartime shipyard to construct Navy vessels needed to bolster the United States war efforts. 150 acres at the harbor were taken for a shipyard to build convoy ships (Destroyer Escorts "DE's"). This marked the first mass production of ships as Hingham turned out 16 at a time in a huge effort. At the height of its production the Shipyard employed 24,000 people and produced an average of six ships per month.
Operations vital to the successful prosecution of the war were conducted by the Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard, Inc., in the Town of Hingham under the auspices of the Navy Department of the Government of the United States, involving the construction of a shipyard for the building of ships.
By 1942 it was essential that adequate means be provided at the earliest possible date for the disposal of sewage from the said shipyard in order that the production of ships may not be retarded and in order that the public health may be protected. The Government of the United States, acting through the Navy Department, urged that appropriate arrangements and connections be authorized so that sewage from the said shipyard and from certain other parcels of property affected by the construction of the new shipyard may be disposed of through the sewerage system of the Metropolitan District Commission. On 19 June 1942 The Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, acting under the authority of Acts of 1941, chapter 719, section 7, Acts of 1942, chapter 13, section 2 (2) and section 3, issued an order as a measure necessary and expedient for meeting the supreme emergency of the state of war between the United States and certain foreign countries. The Metropolitan District Commission was authorized and empowered to permit Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard, Inc., (hereinafter referred to as Bethlehem) to make a connection, at the expense of Bethlehem, between the sewerage system of The Metropolitan District Commission and the sewerage system of said Bethlehem, and to make appropriate arrangements with Bethlehem for the reception and disposal of sewage from the shipbuilding plant and from the other parcels of property affected by the construction of the new plant. The making of such a connection and the reception and disposal of sewage as authorized herein shall be upon such terms and conditions, including rates of compensation, as shall be fixed by agreement between the Metropolitan District Commission and said Bethlehem, with the approval of the Governor of the Commonwealth.
Bethlehem Steel's yard in Hingham, Massachusetts, was able to deliver a DE in just 25 days. By contrast, the construction time for a fleet destroyer before the war had been eight to ten months. Competition between shipyards swelled as new records were made and broken. Hingham's claims to fame include launching one DE in four and one-half days, "a world record for building a major war vessel", delivering ten DEs in one month and laying 16 keels in one day.
Bethlehem Steel shipyard, known as "Beth Hingham," built 100 convoy ships (Destroyer Escorts "DEs") on 16 separate "ways" at Huets Cove. LSTs are later built after VE Day. The shipyard was awarded the letter "E by the US Navy
The shipyard produced 277 ships, and employed 30,000 people. It was closed in 1986, and bought in 1997 by Sea Chain, Inc., as the site for a $250 million redevelopment project for mixed use; high end condominium residential units, some affordable housing, and 200,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.
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