8 North Street ~ Liberty Grill
Hingham Grain Mill Extension
Built in 1722, the building at 8 North Street served originally as an extension of a grist mill which had been constructed in 1643 further down what is now Mill Street. The site faces Hingham Harbor and the Town Brook (which now runs underneath North Street) and, at the time of its construction, faced a small pond. Originally, the mill ground corn into meal to be sold locally and to neighboring towns. It was known to have supplied goods to British and American soldiers during the French and Indian War, as well as to the colonial soldiers of the Revolution.
Hydropower from the Mill Pond behind the building was used to grind grain and saw lumber, making the millers’ and sawyers’ jobs less taxing. By 1900 the mill was grinding only feed for cattle. When it closed in 1942, the mill was the oldest of its kind in America, having operated for one year short of three centuries.
In the late 1800s, the mill extension was run by the well-known Cobb family as a paint and decoration shop, later known as David Cobb & Sons (later Cobb’s Paintshop). When David Cobb, Sr., the shop’s original owner, died in 1909 at the age of 99, he was Hingham’s oldest living resident. The store finally closed its doors between 1920 and 1930.
By 1935, the site had become Ye Olde Town Mill Tavern and was popular with British Navy men stationed here during WWII while they awaited assignment to the destroyer escorts being built at the Hingham Shipyard. Although the name has changed since then, the site continues to be a favorite meeting spot for young and old as The Liberty Grille.
~ History by Holly Coughlin
Map of the harbor area, including the grain mill extension and surrounding buildings, from the 1903 Atlas of Plymouth County. 8 North Street is #38 on the map, facing the Town Brooke and the harbor. David Cobb’s house is #19 on the map, tucked between the railroad tracks and North Street.
The door of 4 North Street, where the Old Hingham Mill once stood. The mill was built in 1643, and was run by the power of the ocean tide. Photo courtesy of the Hingham Historical Society Collection.
A black and white photo of David Cobb, Sr., on his tricycle with the family dog. Behind him is a fence and possibly the railroad tracks. [Photograph in the collection of the Hingham Historical Society]
A second image of David Cobb, Sr., again on his tricycle and accompanied by his dog. He rides south down Central Street, past clapboard commercial buildings located where Talbot’s now has its parking lot. The building on the left corner is now Zona’s Hair Salon, and the Thaxter building (on the corner on the far right) is now the Hingham Community Center. [Photograph in the collection of the Hingham Historical Society]
A 1903 sepia photograph of Millpond at low tide, showing buildings along North and Cottage Street. Left to Right: Brick building owned by B. Andrews is currently Tosca’s Restaurant. Behind is 8 North Street, seen as a long clapboard building above a sluice gate, owned by David Cobb. Beside the harbor is the Fire Extinguisher Company building on a wharf. Next to that is a commercial building.
A red-ink postcard of Ye Olde Mill Grille showing a woman strolling about the building. Tavern’s sign reads, “Ye Olde Mill Grille Lobsters-Chicken-Steak-Chops”.
Photo circa 1860. The building with the horse in front is currently the Liberty Grille.
Row of businesses on current Summer Street site near the harbor. On left near wharf is a fire house. In center is Bassett Coal and Wood. On right is Hingham Grain Mill.