Kosti Comes Home

Kosti Comes Home is on exhibit at Penobscot Marine Museum May 26 to October 21, 2018. This exhibit is part of our regular admission and is available Monday through Friday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, except for holidays. Please call 207-545-2529 for weekend and holiday hours.

The archive of negatives, contact sheets, and prints of Rockland, Maine photographer, Kosti Ruohomaa, have come home to Maine as the newest addition to the photography holdings of the Penobscot Marine Museum. The collection was recently donated to the PMM by Black Star of New York, Ruohomaa’s photography agency, and consists of thousands of medium and large format negatives, 35 mm negatives and slides, as well as contact sheets and vintage prints.

During the age of the photo magazine, Kosti was a rock star in the photography world. His photographs graced the cover of Life Magazine numerous times. Other major magazines such as Look, National Geographic, and Life used his photos regularly. He moved to Dodge Mountain in Rockland at the age of 13, where his family had a blueberry farm. He discovered his love for photography in the 1930s while working as a cartoonist for Disney. During the 1940s and 50s, his career blossomed. While he photographed around the world, Maine was his favorite subject, both the people and land. He died prematurely in 1961 at the age of 47.

Kosti Ruohomaa self portrait series

Kosti was a storyteller with a camera. He captured the spirit and culture of Maine through its people and landscape like few other photographers have ever done. Howard Chapnick, who headed the Black Star photo agency for which Ruohomaa shot many of his images, once said, “The word [‘artist’] is thrown around with gay abandon in photography: ‘This picture looks like a Rembrandt, this one like a Renoir.’ Kosti’s photographs do not have to be compared to the work of painters. A Ruohomaa picture looks like a Ruohomaa!” His work has been the subject of exhibits at the Farnsworth and the Maine State museum. A biography, Kosti Ruohomaa: The Photograher Poet, by Deanna Bonner-Ganter was published by Downeast Books in 2016 and a portfolio of his work, Night Train at Wiscasset Station by Lew Dietz came out in 1977. His photographs are iconic and familiar, especially in Maine.

The Kosti collection is a remarkable resource on several levels. While his published work is fairly well known, it represents less than 10% of the photographs he made. The rest of his photographs have never been seen by the general public. He worked on hundreds of assignments, and each is represented in the collection in separate envelopes which contain the negatives, Kosti’s write-ups on the shoot, and contact sheets with selected images marked with wax pencil. It’s an amazing backstage look at the photo magazine work process. Kosti was vocal in his write-ups as to his opinion on selects and cropping. He had clear ideas of what he was going for in a shoot, and a study of the contact sheets shows how he went about realizing his vision and his method of approaching a photo story. More than a third of his assignments were Maine-based.

The Penobscot Marine Museum is thrilled to be entrusted with this Maine treasure. We will begin a search for funding that will cover the costs to catalog, re-house and digitize the collection. It will be ultimately be made available to browse for free in the museum’s online database. Kosti’s cousin, Janice Lachance, said “Kosti would be very happy to know his photographs have returned to Maine.”

Sailing Small: Small Boats Big Ideas

What inspires model makers to create miniature versions of watercraft? Penobscot Marine Museum will explore this question through the 2018 exhibit Sailing Small: Small Boats, Big Ideas. Using objects, photographs, and primary source audio, visual, and written accounts, the exhibit will spotlight Maine model makers.

Models, and the inspiration to build them, range from the practical to the whimsical. Sailing Small: Small Boats, Big Ideas will showcase key models from the Museum’s collection. Master shipbuilders and designers create models to test design theories, test out buoyancy and load limits, and to build the full-size watercraft. Prisoners of war with no other outlet for their creativity built models from any materials at hand, including soup bones as in the case of French prisoners-of-war during the 1810s. Nostalgia and pride for a beloved watercraft led many sea captains or ship owner to build or commission the building of a ship model long after the original craft met its end. Models inspire great thinkers, like Buckminster Fuller, to ponder how we humans design functional objects to harness the power of nature to our advantage.

The exhibit’s model-making shop, filled with Burt Libby’s tools and his series of canoes showing the progression of model-making steps and interviews with other model makers, provides visitors with a look into the craft of model-making. The photographs and rowboat models of Elmer Montgomery of Rockland, Maine document the working waterfront of the 1940s that is slowly fading from view with the advent of gasoline and diesel engines. Elmer Montgomery’s models inspired Harold “Dynamite” Payson of South Thomaston, Maine to build his own models, that eventually became a business with model-making books, plans, patterns and model components that have in turn inspired this generation of model-makers. An accompanying speaker’s series will invite current model-makers to share what inspires them to build in miniature.

Daily and special programming will allow the visitor to transition from an observer of inspiration to becoming the source of inspiration. Visitors will have the opportunity to build a model, test it out in our model pond, and take it home. In addition to testing out their own models, visitors can test out remote control boats and race our fleet of sailboats.

Sailing Small: Small Boats, Big Ideas runs May 26 through October 21, 2018 throughout the Penobscot Marine Museum campus.

Sponsored by:
American Marine Model Gallery
Bank of America
Bluejacket Shipcrafters
Cold Mountain Builders
Diversified Communications
Hewes & Company, Inc.
Fiddleheads Artisan Supply
Front Street Shipyard
Gamage Shipyard
Halldale Farms
Hamilton Marine
Otis Enterprises Marine
Rockland Post and Beam
Seaworthy Small Ships
Town of Searsport
Viking Lumber
WoodenBoat

Penobscot Marine Museum Announces Appointment Of New Executive Director: Karen E. Smith, Ph.D., Named After National Search

Karen E. Smith, Ph.D.

Penobscot Marine Museum, a history and arts museum with nationally-recognized collections, announced today that the Board of Trustees elected Karen E. Smith, Ph.D., as Executive Director effective April 19, 2018. Smith will join the Museum from the Cedar Falls Historical Society, where she served as Executive Director for six years.

“After a thorough and deliberate national search process, the Board of Trustees is delighted that Karen will lead our cherished Museum as we adapt to changing interests and needs of our visitors, and to rapid advancements in technology that can enhance public access to our nationally-recognized collections,” said Stephen J. Tall, President of the Board of Trustees. “Karen brings many years’ experience successfully growing the Cedar Falls Historical Society, when it had opportunities and challenges similar to ours. I am confident Karen is the right person at the right time to take the helm and lead our crew.”

While at the Cedar Falls Historical Society, Smith led work to define the society’s strategic vision, developed new public programs, built partnerships with other community organizations, created more hands-on opportunities, and refreshed their brand and marketing. As a result, visitorship increased from 6,400 in 2012 to over 14,400 in 2017.

“I am excited about this opportunity to lead the Penobscot Marine Museum and to further its dynamic, interdisciplinary approach,” said Karen Smith. “I am impressed by the many different ways the Museum preserves and interprets the Penobscot Bay region’s rich marine history throughout its campus and beyond—from its maritime painting and photography collections to its historic sea captain’s house and hands-on learning for all ages. I look forward to working with Stephen and the entire Board, the Museum staff and volunteers, and to becoming a part of the community in the coming months.”

Prior to joining the Historical Society, Smith worked at the Iowa Governor’s Residence as a curatorial research assistant, and the Old Capitol Museum and the Obermann Center, also in Iowa. She previously was a college instructor in writing and rhetoric, and was a volunteer manager and coordinator for a large social services agency. Smith obtained her doctorate in American Studies from the University of Iowa in 2011. She has a B.A. in English from Earlham College in Indiana. Smith grew up in Marion, MA and has family in Maine and New England.

“After considering dozens of candidates from across the country, and giving careful thought to the needs of the Museum, we interviewed and vetted seven highly qualified museum professionals,” said Dianne Smith, trustee and chair of the search committee. “We were fortunate to have a very strong pool of candidates, a testament to the appeal of the region and Searsport, and the significant potential of the Museum to be a world-class institution.”

Penobscot Marine Museum is the oldest maritime museum in Maine. With twelve historic buildings, including a ship captain’s home, housed on its Searsport campus, Penobscot Marine brings Maine maritime history to life. Exhibits include hands-on activities for children and adults, marine paintings, scrimshaw, 19th century Chinese and Japanese pottery, paintings and textiles, historic Maine boats, a fisheries exhibit, and an heirloom vegetable garden. The Museum has over 200,000 historic photographs, and a maritime history research library. This summer’s exhibit will focus on ship models and their uses. A model pond will provide opportunities to sail and race models. Check the website for daily activities and events. The Museum is open seven days a week, Memorial Day weekend through the third weekend in October. PMM’s Visitor Center is located at 2 Church Street in Searsport, Maine. For more information call the Visitors Center 207-548-0334 or Administrative Offices at 207-548-2529.

The Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund

Maynard Bray Collection

The Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund is a scholarship set up by friends of Anne Bray, who died in March 2018. Anne was a tireless volunteer for Penobscot Marine Museum, and a passionate keeper of the flame of Maine’s Maritime History. She was the founding research director, and librarian, for the WoodenBoat library at WoodenBoat Publications in Brooklin, Maine.

The Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund will enable enrollment of a deserving young person between the ages of 16 and 21 in one of the WoodenBoat School’s one-week sailing courses. This will be offered annually for as many seasons as possible.

This year’s course selection is Elements of Sailing, taught by Geoff Kerr and Annie Nixon, which runs from July 1 to 7. Applicants will be reviewed, and one will be selected each year at least a month beforehand.

Donations in support of this endeavor may be mailed to: The Anne Bray Memorial Sailing Fund, Penobscot Marine Museum, P.O. Box 498, Searsport, ME 04974. Please make checks payable to Penobscot Marine Museum, Anne Bray Fund.

Interested applicants should contact Giffy Full, 99 Naskeag Pt. Rd., Brooklin, ME 04616 to express their interest and tell a bit about themselves. Giffy may also be reached at (207)-266-1243.

Cooking with Sea Veggies At Penobscot Marine Museum

Seaweed in Jars, provided by Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company

Penobscot Marine Museum presents Cooking with Sea Veggies with Micah Woodcock of Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company on Saturday, January 20, 2018, at 2:00 p.m. Attendees will explore the culinary possibilities of Maine’s native sea vegetables and will prepare several dishes using local seaweed. The program is free and open to the public. This free presentation will take place on the Penobscot Marine Museum campus.

Cooking with Sea Veggies continues the conversation begun last summer at Maine Marine Fare about what we take from and eat from the sea off the Maine coast. Woodcock will work with participants to distinguish different seaweed and to learn the uses of each as well as how the seaweeds are harvested, and their culinary, ecological, and economic importance.

Micah Woodcock is the owner/operator of Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company, a small business working to sustainably hand-harvest sea vegetables in Penobscot Bay since 2010. Woodcock’s harvesting operation is based on a remote island 7 miles off of Stonington, where the strong currents, active surf, and full exposure to the force of the open ocean have allowed these seaweeds to thrive for millennia.

For more information or to reserve your space, please call Penobscot Marine Museum at 207-548-2529.

Everything Isn’t on the Internet

by Deborah Nowers

This is my pitch for the library. We received a request for information on Joseph Blanchard Ames who was the grandfather or great-grandfather of the requester’s grandmother Marie Donaldson Ames. He requested genealogy of Joseph Blanchard Ames in order to determine how the family got from Marshfield, MA to Maine.
 
Using the FindAGrave website, one of my colleagues found that Joseph Blanchard Ames was the father of Marie Donaldson Ames. Joseph was born in Searsport on January 30, 1846–that was the Maine connection—and died in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1915. His parents were Elisha Ames born in Marshfield, Massachusetts and Orilla B. (Parker) Ames born 12 August 1823 in Maine (town unknown). He speculated that the parents had lived in Maine at some time and then moved to Massachusetts. That was as far as he got before he ran out of time.

The research question became, “Why was Joseph born in Searsport?” Information on the internet provided no help. Because I knew there was an Ames family on Islesboro, I looked there. First searching the library’s copy of John Pendleton Farrow’s History of Islesborough., Maine. The Ames family came from Marshfield, Massachusetts, so probably relatives, but Elisha was not included. Since Joseph was reportedly born in Searsport, I next checked the published vital records in the reading room. It did not include a record of his birth. I had reached a dead end on Ames.

I then decided to search for his mother, since she was the one born in Maine. I hoped her uncommon first name—Orilla—would help. I went back to Searsport. There was no listing for Orilla B. Parker in the index, but Orilla B. Park was there. There was just one entry, in the Church Members in Searsport, “Orilla B. Park Dist [dismissed] to Mt. Vernon Chh Boston Aug. 25, 1844.” Because Searsport was incorporated after Orilla’s birth, I then searched in Prospect, Searsport’s mother town. And there she was in the published Vital Records, “Orilla B. daughter of Mr. Joseph & Mrs. Catherine Park born Augt. 17th 1824.” The transcription on FindAGrave had a different last name and birth date, but with no photograph of the stone it is unclear where the error lies. Joseph and Catherine’s marriage record in Prospect gives her maiden name Griffin.

From the records, we can make a narrative. Orilla B. Park was born in Prospect to Joseph and Catherine (Griffin) Park. The family likely lived on the west side of Prospect that became part of Searsport. Orilla was a member of the Church in Searsport when she was dismissed to the Mt. Vernon Church in Boston in 1844. The next year on April 3, 1845, she married Elisha Ames in Boston. It is likely that she was with or went home to her mother to have her baby Joseph Blanchard in January 1846.

Although many genealogical records have been transcribed and digitized for the internet, many have not. Small towns in Maine will be low priority for these efforts for some time. The record you need, may well exist only in a book, likely in a library. The Collection in the Phillips Library, had all I needed to answer this query.

The Long Colorful Life of the CARTHAGINIAN

When the builders of the schooner Wandia launched her in Denmark in 1921, they couldn’t have imagined that she’d get a moment in the limelight. She was a workhorse for many years; she began by hauling cargo in the Baltic Sea for her original owner, a Captain Petersen. Later, she fished in Iceland for a short time before crossing the Atlantic and trying her hand again at cargo in Central America. This was an unprofitable venture, and her next owner was likely thinking outside the box when he purchased her.

R. Tucker Thompson quickly resold the coaster to American film producers the Mirisch Company in 1964, and like a dedicated actor who radically transforms herself for a part, Wandia was expertly refitted to resemble a 19th century New Bedford whaler for her role in the 1966 picture Hawaii, a screen version of the 1959 novel by James Michener. The new 3-masted bark was renamed Carthaginian.

When the film was complete, Thompson bought her back and for a short time shuffled his life to Hilo, HI, where he’d negotiated her sale to a non-profit and agreed to serve as her captain and the curator of the whaling museum she briefly housed. When this venture folded in 1968, Thompson left and the Carthaginian resumed her life as a working vessel for a time. She ran aground near Oahu in April 1973, where she was ultimately scuttled.

Photo by Les Hamm, 1966

Search for St. Frances

Ship ST. FRANCES, Applebee Collection, LB1980.222.407

By John Golden

Recently we received a request from a gentleman who is writing an article about the ST. FRANCES or ST. FRANCIS.
 
An initial search of an online local database of ships built in Maine didn’t reveal any record of a ship named ST. FRANCES or ST. FRANCIS.

Moving on to another resource, Merchant Sail, by William Armstrong Fairburn, there indeed was a ship named ST. FRANCES built in May of 1882 by John McDonald in Bath, Maine. The paragraph went on to explain that the ST. FRANCES was a wooden ship of 1,898 tons and three masts built for Flint and Co. (New York). The ship was sold in October 1899 to the city of San Francisco. It was resold to salmon packers in 1909 and finally wrecked in Alaska, while engaged in this trade on May 14, 1917 at the age of thirty-five.

Checking another resource, Record of American and Foreign Shipping, confirmed the basic information about the ship (owner and size and date built).

Merchant Sail, in a later volume had a biography of John McDonald which listed the ship as the ST. FRANCIS. The ship described was the same one as the specifications and date of construction matched. It appears that the spelling of the ship’s name was probably misspelled in some documentation.