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Penobscot Marine Museum Celebrates Searsport Maritime Heritage Days

Fowler-True-Ross House on PMM’s Campus

Fowler-True-Ross House on PMM’s Campus

Saturday, August 6th, Penobscot Marine Museum will join in with the town of Searsport to celebrate Maritime Heritage Days with a temporary campus-wide exhibit and a house tour featuring Searsport sea captains’ homes.

Saturday, August 6th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., PMM will host a campus-wide exhibit on the past, present and future of the port of Searsport. In addition to our traditional indoor exhibits celebrating Searsport built ships and captains, outdoor exhibits will highlight the ports of calls of outbound Searsport ships and inbound foreign cargo vessels from the 1790s to the present and the role of Mack Point during World War II. On special loan from the Maine State Museum, artifacts from the 1779 Penobscot Expedition will be on display. The Museum will host our sister historical organizations on campus, with some old sea captains and families who went to sea, rising from their graves to tell their tales. Regular admission prices apply.

As a benefit to PMM, nine historic Searsport Sea Captain’s properties will be open for tours on Saturday, August 6th, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Participants will get a sense of Searsport’s rich seafaring history as they tour five private residences, two inns and two museum buildings throughout Searsport. The cost is $10.00 per person; tickets can be purchased at PMM’s Visitors Center at 2 Church Street in Searsport. To reserve tickets prior to August 6, please call 207-548-0334.

The Fowler-True-Ross House

By Deborah Nowers

fowler-houseThe Fowler-True-Ross House sits prominently on Main Street and is a major building of the Penobscot Marine Museum. The docents who work in the house asked the library researchers for information related to the ownership of the house and whether there were objects in the collection that belonged to the residents. The collection includes a folder on the house that lists the ownership from a title search at the Registry of Deeds, but little on who they were.

Being a genealogist, I sought to identify the family groups who had lived in the house. I began with a time line begun by another volunteer listing the deed transfers and the individuals involved. Slowly I filled in the families. Using the resources in the library and internet sources, the families came into focus.

The land on which the house is situated was part of a large tract of land owned by Gen. Henry Knox. He had acquired much of the Waldo Patent, originally the property of Brigadier General Samuel Waldo, by marrying Waldo’s granddaughter, Lucy Flucker. A map in the Maine Historical Society includes a notation that the tract contained “576,000 acres equal to 30 miles square.”

General Knox then divided the land and sold parcels. In 1799, Robert Lord Sargent of Islesboro purchased the land where the Fowler-True-Ross house stands which was then in Prospect. He is enumerated in the 1800 U.S. Census in Prospect and in 1801 sold the parcel to Ephraim Colson, Sr.

Ephraim Colson’s family is outlined in a folder in the collection of Priscilla A. Jones, a well-known local genealogist whose papers are housed in the PMM library. It is unclear if Ephraim and his wife Phebe lived on the property. It seems likely as his five oldest children are recorded as born in Prospect between 1797 and 1804.

Fowler PlotThe house’s first namesake, Miles Fowler, purchased the property in 1815 and it remained in his family for 152 years, through four generations. Miles Fowler, a sea captain, had married Jane True in 1813. Their four children—Rufus Warren, Martha Jane, Cyrus True and Emily—grew up there. The PMM publication, Searsport Sea Captains reports he was captain on seven vessels from 1817 to 1840. He served in the War of 1812 as a private from September 2 to 21, 1814. In 1837, he was appointed Postmaster for West Prospect—now Searsport.

It appears from the deeds that the property was mortgaged in 1839 and redeemed in 1840, and sometime in the early 1840s Miles and Jane separated. In 1843, the property was purchased in trust for Jane Fowler and she subsequently purchased it for $1. She continued to live there and is enumerated in the 1850 Census in what had become Searsport with her son, Cyrus True; he was no longer using the Fowler last name. Miles was living in Bangor with a new wife and daughter.

At Jane’s death in 1857, the house passed to her three surviving children, Rufus Warren, Cyrus and Martha Jane. Rufus Warren Fowler’s wife Nancy then purchased it from the siblings. After her death in 1862, Rufus Warren became the owner. Like his father, he was a sea captain, also included in Searsport Sea Captains.

Only two of his children survived Rufus Warren, and at his death in 1873, Rufus Warren, Jr. and his brother Frederick inherited the house. Rufus Warren, Jr. purchased it and presumably lived there with his wife Abbie and children. The house was purchased in 1896, by his uncle Cyrus True. It then passed to Lucy (Merrithew) Ross, the wife of Cyrus’ nephew Andrew M. Ross, the son of Martha Jane (Fowler) and Andrew J. Ross. Father and son were sea captains.

Their daughter Rebecca M. Ross, a teacher, inherited the house in 1937 and sold it to the Museum in 1967.

The Museum collections contain a number of objects connected to the Fowler, True and Ross families. Miles’s eyeglasses, Martha Jane (Fowler) Ross’s portrait shows her wearing a broach that is also part of the collection. Her brother Cyrus True is represented with a half model, a trunk and a compass. There are photographs of Rufus Warren Fowler, Jr. and Andrew M. Ross as well as a collection of navigation instruments owned by Andrew M. Ross.

Fowler Descendants

Searsport High School Boatbuilders Sail With Maine Daysail, LLC On The Schooner TIMBERWIND

Schooner TIMBERWIND from the Boutilier Collection; part of Penobscot Marine Museum’s extensive photo archives.

Schooner TIMBERWIND from the Boutilier Collection; part of Penobscot Marine Museum’s extensive photo archives.

(Belfast, Maine) On Tuesday, June 21, student boatbuilders from Searsport High School have been invited by Maine DaySail, LLC for a six hour sail aboard the schooner TIMBERWIND with Captain Lance Meadow. The group will leave at 11:00 am from Thompson’s Wharf in Belfast.

Not only will this be a fun experience for the students, but it will give them the chance to try out the 75 blocks they rebuilt, see how sails preform on a larger scale, and put to use their charts and courses knowledge learned in their navigation class.

The ten students worked from mid-January through their boat launch the end of May, with nine community volunteers, and master boat-builder Greg Rossel to build two Shellback Dinghies for the class The Geometry of Boat Building. This is the sixth year for The Geometry of Boat Building, a collaboration between Searsport District High School and Penobscot Marine Museum held at the museum’s Hamilton Learning Center in Searsport.

Wayne Hamilton, owner of Hamilton Marine, teaches a navigation class, and the students travel to Camden to work with sailmaker Grant Gambell to make sails for the dinghies. The class would not be possible without local businesses who donate time and materials: Gambell and Hunter Sailmakers, Hamilton Marine, Epifanes, Maine Coast Lumber, WoodenBoat Store, Chesapeake Light Craft, George Kirby Jr Paint Company.

For more information on the Penobscot Marine Museum, please visit www.PenobscotMarineMuseum.org. For more information on Maine DaySail, please visit http://mainedaysail.com.

Postcards! Postcards! Get your Postcards! Penobscot Marine Museum at Maine’s 2016 Antique Paper Show

Car used by Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co., Penobscot Marine Museum collection

Car used by Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co., Penobscot Marine Museum collection

A sampling of historic images from Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection of over 140,000 photographs will be available at the Maine 2016 Antique Paper Show on Saturday, June 25, from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at the First Congregational Church Vestry, 8 Church Street, Searsport.

Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection of historic photographs began with a collection of negatives from a turn-of-the-nineteenth-century postcard company, Eastern Illustrated & Publishing Company of Belfast, Maine. Postcards, which were hugely popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and their glass plate negatives still have a significant presence in the museum’s collection.

The postcard show complements the museum’s 2016 exhibit Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine. Inspired by the 100th anniversary of “Maine Postcard Day”, this exhibit includes a hundred years of images which have been used to communicate the unique qualities of Maine to the outside world. With photographic postcards, photography, and contemporary art, this exhibit explores the changes which have taken place to the images that have been used to communicate Maine.

In connection with this year’s show, Associate Professor of History and Department Chair at the University of Southern Maine, Libby Bischoff will be conducting her Maine Postcard Project on campus from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. You will be able to write postcards to friends and family using postcards designed by Bischoff featuring historic and contemporary images of Maine. Bischoff was an advisor on our 2015 exhibit, Through Her Lens, and was the writer of our introductory panels about the history of postcards for our current exhibit, Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine. Libby is also one of the authors of the recently released book, Maine Photography: A History, 1840-2015.

The Maine 2016 Antique Paper Show: Postcards and Paper Collectibles includes thousands of vintage postcards, old maps, historic photographs, sheet music, and paper ephemera. Free appraisals for your paper collectibles will be available from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Admission is $2, and includes $2 off of a Penobscot Marine Museum admission ticket.

For more information call Kevin Johnson at 207-548-2529 ext.210.

Searsport High School Students Launch Their Boats

Last year’s Searsport District High School students launching their boats in May 2015

Last year’s Searsport District High School students launching their boats in May 2015

Ten students from Searsport District High School with nine community volunteers, and master boat-builder Greg Rossel have been working together since mid-January building two Shellback Dinghies for the class The Geometry of Boat Building. The dinghies, which the students will launch at Searsport Town Dock on Thursday, May 26 at noon, are small sail boats designed by E.B. White’s son Joel White. This is the sixth year for The Geometry of Boat Building, a collaboration between Searsport District High School and Penobscot Marine Museum held at the museum’s Hamilton Learning Center in Searsport.

As they build the boats, the students explore marine physics and engineering concepts, Newton’s laws of motion, traditional and modern wood working, chemical reactions, and navigation. The class is taught by Greg Rossel who has been teaching boat building at WoodenBoat School for over twenty years, but it would not be possible without the additional help of community volunteers at every class: Susan Orsato, Lora Mills and Rick Fitzsimmons of Belfast, Gerry Saunders of Unity, Bruce Brown of Brewer, Rob Giffin of East Orland, Fred Kircheis of Carmel, Dan Merrill of Stockton Springs, and Pete Jenkins from Prospect.

Wayne Hamilton, owner of Hamilton Marine, teaches a navigation class, and the students travel to Camden to work with sailmaker Grant Gambell to make sails for the dinghies. The class would not be possible without local businesses who donate time and materials: Gambell and Hunter Sailmakers, Hamilton Marine, Epifanes, Maine Coast Lumber, WoodenBoat Store, Chesapeake Light Craft, George Kirby Jr Paint Company.

Edith & Bennett To Sing At Penobscot Marine Museum Members Opening

Edith Gawler and Bennett Konesni

Edith Gawler and Bennett Konesni

Edith Gawler and Bennett Konesni, who play banjo and fiddle and sing old-time music from Maine and beyond, will be playing at Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine for a Members Reception in Main Street Gallery on Friday, May 20, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Edith grew up in Belgrade, Maine as a member of the legendary Gawler Family Band. Together Edith & Bennett have played Maine music across the U.S. and around the world. This event is free to Penobscot Marine Museum members. Museum membership is available online or by calling 207-548-0334 or 2529.

“It was one of the best nights of music the Parrish [Art Museum] has ever experienced, and the dynamism, charm, and talent of Edith and Bennett have made an everlasting imprint,” says Amy Kirwin of the Parrish Art Museum. In addition to their music, Edith and Bennett own and operate Duckback Farm in Belfast, Maine, which focuses on growing garlic and culinary herbs for table and seed.

Penobscot Marine Museum opens for the season on Saturday, May 28th. New this year, residents of Waldo County will receive free admission, each town during a specific week. Each town’s free week is listed here. Residents of Lincolnville and Islesboro will kick off the program with free admission to Penobscot Marine Museum from Sunday, May 29 through Saturday, June 4.

Free Admission For Waldo County Towns At Penobscot Marine Museum

Downeaster-Days-08022-640

Penobscot Marine Museum opens for the season on Saturday, May 28th and is inaugurating a new program to offer residents of each town in Waldo County free admission to the museum for a week.  Each town’s free week is listed below.  Residents of Lincolnville and Islesboro will kick off the program with free admission to Penobscot Marine Museum from Sunday, May 29 through Saturday, June 4.
 
“We want to give back to the community,” says Liz Lodge, Penobscot Marine Museum’s Executive Director.  “We are a great place to bring your children, your summer guests, or to do research.  We are a community resource, and wanted to make sure all of our neighbors in Waldo County had an opportunity to visit.”

Kathy Goldner at WBAI

Kathy Goldner discusses the Free Admission for Waldo County Program with Joy Hollowell for WBAI

The museum’s theme this summer is Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine, celebrates a hundred years of images which have been used to communicate the unique qualities of Maine to the outside world.   The public is invited to the opening reception on Friday, May 27, 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

Do you live in Waldo County? Find your free week!

Museum admission is free for residents, with proof of residency:

Belfast October 9- October 15
Belmont July 24- July 30
Brooks July 17- July 23
Burnham July 31- August 6
Frankfort June 19- June 25
Freedom June 12-June 18
Islesboro May 29- June 4
Jackson June 5- June 11
Knox June 26- July 2
Liberty June 12-June 18
Lincolnville May 29- June 4
Monroe June 5- June 11
Montville August 7- August 13
Morrill July 10- July 16
Northport August 21- August 27
Palermo August 28- Sept 3
Prospect June 19- June 25
Searsmont Sept 4- Sept 10
Stockton Springs Sept 11- Sept 17
Swanville Sept 18- Sept 24
Thorndike June 26- July 2
Troy August 14- August 20
Unity Sept 25- October
Waldo July 10- July 16
Winterport October 2- October 8

Museum To Host Open House For Local Businesses

Aerial view of Penobscot Marine Museum’s 3 acres and 12 buildings.

Aerial view of Penobscot Marine Museum’s 3 acres and 12 buildings.

Owners and staff of area businesses are invited to a party and special preview of Penobscot Marine Museum’s 2016 exhibits on Wednesday, May 18th, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. The museum’s theme Wish You Were here: Communicating Maine includes several exhibits; Historic Maine: A Postcard View, Acadia National Park: A Postcard View, and Maine: A Continuum of Place. Carl Little, author of Paintings of Maine, Art of the Maine Islands and Guest Curator of the museum’s exhibit Maine: A Continuum of Place will be attending, along with many of the artists represented in the exhibit. Photography Archivist Kevin Johnson will also be on hand to discuss the museum’s extensive historic photography and postcard collection featured in these exhibits.

Each business attending will receive a gift of five free passes to Penobscot Marine Museum. “We wanted to say thank you to all of our local businesses,” says Liz Lodge, the museum’s Executive Director. “These local businesses do so much for the community and for us, they help make this area vibrant.” Four of the twelve museum buildings will be open in this special preview: the ship captain’s house, Main Street Gallery, Visitors Center, and Merithew. The museum opens to the public on Saturday, May 28.

Five Thousand U.S. Fishing Industry Photographs Now Online

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In 2012, the international media company Diversified Communications donated over 15,000 photographs to Penobscot Marine Museum from its National Fisherman magazine archives. This collection, the largest of its kind, documents the U. S. fishing industry from the 1950’s to the 1990’s, providing a unique detailed visual survey of commercial fishing in this country during a time when the increasing industrialization of fishing had enormous and often devastating consequences for individual fishermen and for fishing stock. John K. Bullard, the Regional Administrator for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), calls the National Fisherman collection of “…great national historical significance because it documents a critical period in the history of U.S. fishing.” In 2014 the museum received grant funding to digitize the collection. The first 5000 photographs are now available to the public online at www.penobscotmarinemuseum.org. All 15,000 images will be online by 2017.

Native Fisherman Operating Motorized Boat, PMM National Fisherman Collection

Native Fisherman Operating Motorized Boat, PMM National Fisherman Collection

The National Fisherman collection includes photographs of all aspects of the fishing industry. There are photographs of Greenpeace activists protesting foreign whaling, of fishing strikes in the Alaskan salmon fisheries, of tired East Coast draggers, foreign and domestic factory ships, and Alaskan halibut trawlers. There are photographs of the people of the industry; fishermen hauling their catch, fish processors in factories, and angry fishermen in meetings with industry regulators. National Fisherman photographed fishing vessels being built at sea, people working at fish piers, fish markets, and fishing industry trade shows. Now for the first time an international audience of scholars, historians, film makers, educators, curators, ecologists, policy makers and the general public will all have access to this wealth of visual documentation.

National Fisherman is the only national commercial fishing publication in the U.S. Over the course of their history, which can be traced back to a 1921 fish report in Belfast, Maine’s newspaper Republican Journal, they amassed what became the largest collection of 20th century photographs documenting the fishing industry. The decision to donate their vast photography archive to Penobscot Marine Museum was made by parent company Diversified Communications when National Fisherman’s photo submissions switched to digital.

Penobscot Marine Museum is extremely grateful to the following for their support: this project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and by The Windhover Foundation. This project has also been financed (in part) with Federal funds from the National Maritime Heritage program, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. However, the contents and opinions contained herein do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of the Interior, nor does the mention of trade names or commercial products constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Department of the Interior.

Transporting an Elephant, PMM National Fisherman Collection

Transporting an Elephant, PMM National Fisherman Collection

Mary Bourke, Bathers, acrylic on birch panel, 2015, 18 by 18 inches

Vintage Photos And Contemporary Art Come Together In Unusual Penobscot Marine Museum Exhibit

On view at PMM from May 28 through October 16, 2016

Mary Bourke, Bathers, acrylic on birch panel, 2015, 18 by 18 inches

Mary Bourke, Bathers, acrylic on birch panel, 2015, 18 by 18 inches

As part of its Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine summer programming, the Penobscot Marine Museum will present Maine: A Continuum of Place in the Main Street Gallery, May 28 to October 16. An opening reception for the show, with Guest Curator Carl Little, is planned for Friday, May 27, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Carl Little, author of Paintings of Maine, Art of the Maine Islands and other books, chose vintage photographs and postcards of coastal Maine from the Penobscot Marine Museum’s collection and paired them with images of those places by contemporary Maine artists. The photographs, which will have been enlarged, and the artworks will be displayed side by side.

Pairing PMM’s Three Bathers photo with Bourke Bathers

Pairing PMM’s Three Bathers photo with Bourke Bathers

“Pairing vintage photographs with modern-day paintings of similar subjects by artists active today was not only great fun, but also a way to highlight what I call the ‘continuum of place,’ ” says Little. “Maine’s landscape has inspired a remarkable sense of place over the past 150 years,” he notes, “and that vibrant tradition continues today.” The exhibition features the work of 17 artists from across Maine: Joel Babb, Susan Lewis Baines, Nancy Morgan Barnes, Mary Bourke, Sam Cady, Alison Goodwin, Philip Frey, Liddy Hubbell, Tina Ingraham, Ben Lincoln, Jeff Loxterkamp, Caren-Marie Michel, Linda Norton, Winslow Myers, Karen Spitfire, Jude Valentine, and David Vickery.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of “Maine Postcard Day”, Penobscot Marine Museum’s 2016 series of exhibits Wish You Were Here: Communicating Maine presents a hundred years of images which have been used to communicate the unique qualities of Maine to the outside world. Using postcards, photography, and contemporary art, these exhibits explore the changes which have taken place in the images which have we have used to communicate “Maine”.