News Feature

Our Community
Originally published in Seasonal Guide, June 27, 2013
Once upon a time...
Dive into the past with historical societies on the Peninsula

Bruce Greenlaw at the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society

Bruce Greenlaw adds music to past Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society events for Touring Through Time.

Photo by Caroline Spear Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

A little while back—say about three or four hundred years—European settlers trickled their way into coastal Maine and began settling villages and townships. And, as humans do, they created their own history, through documents, artifacts and photographs.

History fascinates because it opens a window into how we once accomplished the same things we do today—work, eat, build, worship, procure goods and services, fight and celebrate—in short, all the small and large moments of our individual and community life.

Summer is the time when local historical societies open their doors to a wide range of exhibits, lectures and events to show how life was once lived in our 10 towns. They also collectively invite the public in during Touring Through Time on Saturday and Sunday, July 27 and 28. Also, many towns have contributed to Maine Memory Network, to share their history, through documents and photos, online at

Blue Hill Historical Society

Last year, Blue Hill celebrated 250 years of European settlement. The town’s historical society, formed in 1902, is headquartered in the Holt House, built in 1815, and holds documents dating back to those first years.

Hours are open Tue.-Fri., 1-4 p.m. Visit for summer events schedule.

Brooklin Keeping Society

Brooklin incorporated in 1849—before that it was part of Sedgwick—and was known for its canning factories in the early- to mid-1900s. The Keeping Society, formed in 2000 and located in the rear of the Brooklin town office, with an adjacent research building, maintains audio recordings of oral histories, photographs, files, artifacts and genealogical material. It is open Tuesdays, 1-4 p.m.

Summer events include a cemetery walk on July 25 and an annual ice cream social on August 20. Visit brooklinkeeping for more information.

Brooksville Historical Society

In the 19th century, “roads were few and railways nonexistent, so trade was carried out by sea,” wrote LeCaine Smith in Maritime History of Brooksville, published by the historical society. Artifacts from shipbuilding and marine services, and brick yards—“Bagaduce clay was perfect for bricks,” according to LeCain—are housed in the society’s home at 150 Coastal Road (Route 176), alongside household equipment, furniture, vintage clothing and toys. It is open Wednesdays and Sundays, 1-4 p.m. The society’s website is

Castine Historical Society

Castine, one of the oldest towns in New England, was first settled in 1613—or was it? The Castine Historical Society, located on the town common on Court Street, will hold a public forum this summer that may settle the question.

Its summer exhibit is “Missions, Meeting Houses, Chapels and Churches,” and on July 27 all four Castine churches will hold open houses. Summer hours are every day, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Visit or call 326-4118.

Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society

In June 2012, the historical society built and opened a post-and-beam Exhibit Barn to help house and display the countless marine, Native American, Island trades and other artifacts.

Special exhibits this season are the “America’s Cup/Deer Isle Boys and Yachting” and “Islanders Military Exhibit: From the Revolution to Vietnam.”

Located at 416 Sunset Road (Route 15A), its summer hours are Wed., Fri. and Sat., 1-4 p.m. More information can be found at or


Penobscot Historical Society

Incorporated in 1787, Penobscot originally included Castine and the easterly part of Brooksville. The historical society grounds are located on Route 199 and hold the General Store, a one-room schoolhouse, barn and the main house and exhibit room.

The society opens all of its doors for Touring Through Time, July 27 and 28, with special events. For information on summer society events contact Carla Hutchins at 326-8669 or

Sedgwick-Brooklin Historical Society

Housed on land once owned by Sedgwick’s first full-time minister, Daniel Merrill, the Sedgwick-Brooklin Historical Society is on Rte. 172. It features the minister’s 1795 house, an old school house and a newly built barn.

The society is part of a genuine historic district, with the Town House, built in 1794, nearby and the cemetery where some of Sedgwick’s earliest settlers rest.

Hours are Sundays, 2-4 p.m., July and August. Contact the society at 359-8958.

Surry Historical Society

Potential settlers first sailed up “the pretty little bay” in the 17th century, writes Lynn Bonsey on the Surry page of Maine Memory Network ( Surry was incorporated in 1803; the township’s petition to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts named the town Peru, but was told “a short name of your choice, twould be more acceptable.”

The historical society holds events at the Old Town Hall on Surry Road, where it houses its collections. For information on its summer lecture series, email or call 667-8781.