Hood Farm, Pleasure Island 1959

  • Hood Farm, Pleasure Island 1959
  • In the early 1950s, the late Wiliam S. Hawkes, publisher of Childlife Magazine, envisioned creating a family recreation center to be named Childlife World, similar to the Mother Goose parks throughout the country, such as StoryLand in North Conway, NH. On July 16, 1955 the amusement park industry would never be the same! Disneyland opened, and investors followed the trend leader. Childlife World became Pleasure Island when Hawkes and Marco Engineering of Los Angeles collaborated with Cabot, Cabot and Forbes to break out 168 acres of wetland from CC&F's Industrial Park along the edge of the new Route 128. Billed as Boston's answer to Disneyland, Pleasure Island opened on June 22, 1959 and was the second of three innovative theme parks built across America to mimic Disneyland. H.P. Hood & Sons (now Hood LLC) was the first company to sign a lease for what was officially an 'outdoor entertainment and merchandising center.' As a lessee, Hood signed a five-year contract with the first year's and fifth year's rent paid in advance, which helped underwrite the cost of the park's construction. H.P. Hood & Sons invested $500,000 in a second mortgage to Pleasure Island, Inc. plus $10,000 per year for its five-year lease. The Hood's 4.5-acre farm included a large red barn and silo, and a farm tractor that would draw a wagon-train down through the farm over a winding road. The trip took guests by sheep, cows, calves and a duck pond, as well as a cow barn, a maple sugar house where syrup was boiled and blacksmith's shop. H.P. Hood & Sons also sponsored the Gay Nineties Ice Cream Parlor and snack stands at the farm, lighthouse, juice bar at Goldpan Gulch, and pushcarts. Pleasure Island went bankrupt after its first season, only to become one of the top grossing parks behind Disneyland in the early 1960s. Hood left after season one and a new petting zoo opened in its place in 1960. In 1961, a giant three-story high 'Bozo the Clown' slide was attached to the silo. The park closed in 1969. A portion of Edgewater Office Park Building 500's parking garage and Colonial Point's parking lot are on the site of the former Hood Farm. Hood LLC's corporate office is located in Lynnfield MA, just one mile from its Pleasure Island Farm.
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 2018
  • Photo and text courtesy of Bob McLaughlin - Friends of Pleasure Island
  • ca. 1959
  • Wakefield, Mass. : Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


“Hood Farm, Pleasure Island 1959,” Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield, Mass., accessed December 9, 2021, https://digitalheritage.noblenet.org/wakefield/items/show/3309.


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