Trophies

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Harriet Hichborn Collection
Gift of the Stockton Springs Historical Society

Taxidermy became popular in the Victorian era when many people brought stuffed animals into their homes for decorations. Old-time residents remembered that the three Hichborn sisters had what they called a museum in their house—a room in which they displayed the many oddities that their father’s sea-going friends brought back with them from around the world. There were “shrunken skulls and exotic sea shells and many others things.” This display of stuffed Maine animals may have been part of the museum collection. A deer head is surrounded by birds and topped with a squirrel. The arrangement is framed by an open doorway and set against the dark interior of the house. The contrast of the interior dark with the exterior light is echoed in the contrast between the lifeless animals and the living cat crouched next to them.

Captain Clifford’s Store

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Harriet Hichborn Collection
Gift of the Stockton Springs Historical Society

Pattern and repetition are highlighted frequently in Hichborn’s work. This Valentine’s display in Captain Clifford’s store window consists of one repeating image: a woman peering out from a frame, the cover of the February 1910 edition of Woman’s Home Companion. The lead article, advertised next to the hearts at the bottom of the window, is “The Head or the Heart?” which cautions women to pay more attention to their loved ones than to their professional interests and pursuits. This perhaps speaks to Hichborn’s dilemma, as a skilled photographer who spent her life within her family home caring for an invalid sister. Also advertised on the store is Moxie, now the official soft drink of Maine. Moxie was an early example of a mass-produced soft drink with a brand name so pervasive that it became a commonly use word in its own right.

Disembarking from the ROCKLAND

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Harriet Hichborn Collection
Gift of the Stockton Springs Historical Society

The steamer ROCKLAND brought passengers from Boston to Kidder’s Point. Here, Hichborn has captured the flurry of arrival—those waiting and those moving forward, some with baskets, packages, and even a chicken—while the captain watches from the pilot house. Four women stand at the center of the photo, a study in contrast. The women stand still, while they are surrounded by people in motion. The two in back, bare-headed and clothed in black, are framed by the two standing forward, dressed in light-colored suits and wearing elaborate hats.

Hichborn’s father was a prominent shipbuilder, who built 42 ocean-going wooden ships and helped connect midcoast Maine with the wider world. Although Hichborn’s photos include some from Orono and Blue Hill, the record suggests that she spent almost all her life close to Stockton Springs and rarely ventured beyond. This photograph hints at the possibility of travel and the world beyond.

Kidder’s Point

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Harriet Hichborn Collection
Gift of the Stockton Springs Historical Society

In this photo, Hichborn skillfully uses line to create a sense of depth and motion. The parallel lines of the track and wooden boards of the wharf stretch diagonally across the foreground, converging towards the horizon. They draw our attention to a new generator, which has just begun to provide electricity to the wharves at Jellison Point and here, at Kidder’s Point. Flags hung horizontally blow in the wind, their motion contrasting with the still figures below, waiting for the first excursion steamer to arrive. Hichborn’s sister Faustina wrote in Historical Sketches of Stockton Springs, that “we look for the town’s prosperity to equal—yes—exceed—the olden days of the ship building and sea going.” Kidder’s Point and the soon-arriving excursion steamers were indications of this hope for prosperity.

Newport Band

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Harriet Hichborn Collection
Gift of the Stockton Springs Historical Society

Penobscot Park in Searsport was developed by the Bangor and Aroostook Railroad in 1905. It offered public bathing, boating and fishing, a merry-go-round, dining, and a dance pavilion. Residents and summer visitors alike came to enjoy the bands that traveled here from across the state. Here are pleasure seekers posing with the Newport Band. Notice the similarity in dress among the crowd, a sign of the developing consumer culture. The women are dressed alike, in suits with long skirts and white shirtwaists. Most of the men wear straw boaters, a popular summer hat. We wonder what the few exceptions—fedoras, caps, and one bowler hat—suggest about these individuals. Penobscot Park failed to develop into the resort its founders had hoped for and closed in 1927.

Oscar Noble House

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Harriet Hichborn Collection
Gift of the Stockton Springs Historical Society

Hichborn took many photos of houses, often viewed from an angle. Her photographs follow the convention of architectural perspective, which reduces distortion in vertical lines, allowing the houses to appear square and strong. Here is the house of Oscar Noble and his family. The diagonal of the fence leads our attention directly to Mrs. Nobel as she feeds her chickens. It is interesting to note that Mrs. Nobel is behind the fence and is thus connected to the house and separated from the viewer. Her husband and three daughters—Elsie, Mabel, and Evelyn—seem to recede and have become part of the background. In the early part of the 20th century, Stockton Springs was prosperous and attracted many new residents. According to the 1930 census, Oscar Noble was born in Sweden and immigrated to the U.S. in 1889.

Cape Jellison Docks

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Harriet Hichborn Collection
Gift of the Stockton Springs Historical Society

The docks of Cape Jellison were one of Hichborn’s favorite subjects. Between 1905 and 1907, town developers built three large wooden piers, turning a town of small factories and sawmills into a shipping hub. The Bangor and Aroostook Railroad connected the docks with Northern Maine. A warehouse held potatoes until they could be shipped south. In this photo, the diagonal line of the pier on the left leads the viewer’s eye to a wooden sailing ship that rests side by side with the steamship Millinocket.

As Hichborn’s sister Faustina noted in her Historical Sketches of Stockton Springs, the town was “born to the great heritage of an unexcelled harbor, achieving an enviable position as a shipbuilding town in the heyday of wooden sailing crafts, now apparently has future greatness thrust upon her…” The greatness foreseen by Faustina was cut short by a fire which destroyed the wharves in 1924.