Salty the Seahorse - Atlas Obscura

Salty the Seahorse

Mattapoisett, Massachusetts

Once a kitschy symbol for a gift shop, this 38-foot seahorse is now a staple roadside attraction.  


During the 1950s, Henry Dunseith and his family owned a patch of land in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, on which they lived and operated the Dunseith Sea Horse Gift Shop. Dunseith decided that the best way to attract customers to his shop was to construct an enormous, pastel-colored seahorse right out front.

He contracted Theodore D. Tetreault and his son Teddy to build the 8ft sculpture. Tetreault was a well-known local artist famous for his mural and neon work (notably the famous I-195 Paul Revere sign). The father and son duo built the sculpture in their backyard in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, and placed it on Route 6, where it has been ever since.

The seahorse quickly became a marker for vacationers traveling to Cape Cod. However, after the completion of Interstate 195 most of the gift shops in the area, including Dunseith’s, were forced to close due to a lack of business. 

When Dunseith died in 1988, he didn’t want the land to fall into the hands of a commercial enterprise. His family decided to give the property over to the town, which immediately sparked debate. The buildings were razed in the late 1990s, but the fate of the giant seahorse was still up in the air. Eventually, due to popular demand, the seahorse was briefly taken down, restored, then reerected and dedicated in 2000. 

Today, the seahorse stands in a small park, complete with a playground and several flower gardens maintained by the Mattapoisett Land Trust.

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