In this photograph the viewer is located up on the outer edge of Kents’ Hill looking east toward the downtown waterfront of North Haven. Although it is difficult to date the photograph exactly, a two-masted schooner can be seen tied up to the dock. At the end of the 19th century, North Haven boasted at least a dozen two-masters that fished the Banks and Nova Scotia areas yearly. They also served to transport coal to the island and also to bring in commodities to local stores.
In the foreground of the photograph is the small building that is part of the North Haven Yacht Club, more commonly called simply the “Casino.” The origins of the Casino itself date to 1895 when the unused Lewis MacDonald “salt store” and wharf was purchased and transformed into a gathering place for summer boat racing and recreational gatherings. It is from the Casino wharf that North Haven dinghy races first began and continue to this day. In 1887, the first dinghy race was held when Dr. William Weld challenged several other summer residents to race against him. At that time, Dr. Weld hired J. O. Brown to improve the dinghy design and thus better his chances of winning. During his lifetime, J. O. Brown built at least 70 North Haven dinghies in addition to lobster boats and pleasure craft. Today, the North Haven dinghy is recognized as the oldest continuously raced one-design sailboat in North America. In the summer of 2012, the Casino will celebrate its 100 anniversary and the North Haven Dinghy will turn 125 years old.
The long low building towards the back of the photo was originally the Lewis canning factory. Dr. Weld bought the factory in 1898 ,and it was equipped as a boat shop by J. O. Brown. The Brown family still maintains a boat shop in that same location.
Lydia Brown and Nan Lee
North Haven Historical Society