ROCKLAND — Millay House Rockland had a successful open house during Rockland’s Festival of Lights on Saturday. Many neighbors came by for cookies and hot cider, and visitors included Governor Janet Mills; the two newest Rockland City Council Members, Adam Lachman and Penny York; and relatives of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Governor Mills said she enjoys seeing what Maine communities are doing to celebrate local arts and culture. Everyone admired the results of six years of reconstruction at the Millay House on Broadway — the original woodwork and beautifully restored floors, its new walls, kitchen, and bathrooms as well as the houseful of donated furniture.

Millay House Rockland rents the north side of the double house to a talented young artist who shows at Dowling Walsh gallery; and on the newly renovated south side, the group will sponsor a writer-in-residence, in partnership with the Ellis Beauregard Foundation. Future plans for Millay House members and the public include hosting poetry readings, sponsoring a poetry contest for students, publishing a chapbook and holding classes and workshops at a site with more parking. The organization also solicited from open house attendees ideas on how to use the house. Suggestions included having a literary salon/discussion sessions, developing outreach programs with local youth and exhibiting Midcoast artists’ work. Millay House looks forward to investigating these ideas and implementing programs appropriate to their mission.

Millay House used exclusively local businesses to complete the interior work, including general contractor Kirk Rouge, Green Leaf Roofing, Bunker Hill Flooring, Cayouette Floors, Evergreen Insulation, Marvel Street Painters, Irv’s Drywall, Matt Pietrosky (electric), Don Maxwell (plumbing), Viking and Hammond Lumber and Kelsey Appliances.

Members of the board of Millay House Rockland attribute their success so far to an old New England tradition of placing a shoe inside a wall near a chimney to bring good luck. During a visit by executives of The First, a generous supporter, the group placed a pair of baby shoes in the wall between the two residences.

As the open house was drawing to a close, a young neighbor returned to share a poem he had written when he got home:

I visited the Millay House,

Over on Broadway.

I heard it was under renovation,

Getting the scars and wounds of time

Stripped off, cleaned, and made new again.

I walked up the steps, and entered in.

It was indeed a pretty sight, and clean.

The rooms were large and bright.

I imagined them by candlelight,

Furtive shadows dancing on the walls,

As tortured minds stoop over a low table,

And scrawl, and scream, and shred their work,

Until, as dawn’s light begins to peep,

They raise a triumphant hand,

In which is grasped: poetry – art distilled.

Lewis Sigand, 11/26/22