Coastal ingenuity: Then and now at the Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show

By John K. Hanson Jr. | Aug 12, 2011
Courtesy of: Eastern Illustrating Collection, Penobscot Marine Museum The Rockland Public Library opened in 1903, a gift of Andrew Carnegie.

Mainers are a creative lot. They have always adapted to the times while maintaining a high standard of craftsmanship and a pride that is reflected in their products. The Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show brings together modern-day creations by boat builders, furniture makers, artists and architects, and many others, yet we have always felt it important to also pay homage to previous generations of thinkers and doers.

The 2011 “Tradition Shapes Innovation” theme of “75 Years on Penobscot Bay — A Retrospective” does just that with historic films and photography with narrative context. Inspired by the 75th anniversaries of the Penobscot Marine Museum and the Maine Windjammer Fleet, photography exhibits at the show provide a real taste of life on the coast of Maine in the 1930s. The museum’s Elmer Montgomery and Eastern Illustrating Company collections examine everything from industry to local culture.

Adaptability helped keep Rockland and Penobscot Bay dynamic in the 1930s, building on strong industrial and boat building roots a community that evolved with the times. Transportation methods were shifting: bridges were being built and road travel was taking over from rail and water. The era of huge wooden ships was giving way to recreational boatbuilding and yachting. More products were being exported thanks to air service, and more tourists were visiting as the summer trade grew.

In 1936, the Maine Windjammer fleet was born, thanks to Camden’s Captain Frank Swift. He repurposed old coastal schooners from cargo vessels to passenger carriers, giving the schooners a new life while creating a new form of tourism.

The Penobscot Marine Museum was founded to help preserve Maine’s maritime heritage in the face of the era’s mad dash to modernity. With the 2011 edition of the Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors Show, we honor these two institutions for the work they have done over the years to preserve our heritage and keep our traditions vital today.

We invite you to the show in Rockland, Aug. 12-14. There, you can step into the coast of yesterday and of today. With 300 exhibitors representing all that Maine has to offer, it’s a chance to see Maine’s creative economy up close and personal, while gaining an understanding of how we got to the present moment, and taking a look at where we are headed next.

As Maine’s only in-the-water boat show and coastal lifestyle event, the show annually features nearly 300 exhibitors of boats and marine gear, home wares and furniture, sustainable energy, art and jewelry. The show is produced by Rockland-based Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors magazine. A full list of events and participants is available at maineboats.com, 207-594-8622.

John K. Hanson, Jr., is publisher of Maine Boats, Homes and Harbors magazine.

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