News


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August 7, 2022

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Join IHS president Patrick O'Bannon on Saturday, August 13, at 9am at Maddy Dodge Field for a walking tour of Hewes Point. This will be about a one mile walk (round trip) along Hewes Point Road. Register here

August 3, 2022

For those of you who may have missed our first "Evening with Island Elders," or for those of you who want to revisit this special evening, here's the link to the event: An Evening With Island Elders

Be sure to join us on Wednesday, August 17 at 7pm at the Historical Society for our second "Evening" with Apple Bartlett, Buddy Bethune, Frances Train, & Doug Welldon.

June 24, 2022

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!!

Dear Friends of the Historical Society:

The Historical Society is looking for volunteers for the museum and two art shows. This is a great time to meet people, learn the history of the island, and participate in an art show.

An important aspect of the Historical Society is the museum located on the second floor of the building. The museum is open from July 2nd to August 24th; Saturday through Wednesday afternoons from 12:30 to 4:30 pm. Volunteer docents sign up for one of two 2-hour shifts at the museum to be available to answer questions from visitors. When time allows, you are welcome to browse the collection and familiarize yourself with the history of the island. Training of docents is provided prior to the start of the season.

In addition to providing oversight to the museum, the Historical Society is also looking for volunteers to help at our two art shows this summer. The two shows will be in Pendleton Hall, with receptions on each of the Friday nights that they are open. The shows will run from Saturday through Wednesday 12:30 to 4:30 pm from July 8th to 18th and August 12th to August 22nd. Receptions will be held on July 8th and 15th and August 12th and 19th, from 5 pm to 7pm. Volunteers for the shows will monitor the show and answer visitors’ questions. We are hoping volunteers can take a 4-hour shift each, but if this is not possible a split shift will be fine.

If you are interested in volunteering either as a docent, an art show helper or both please contact Jennifer West, westmaine@gmail.com, or 207-837-3191. This is a great opportunity to learn about the island as well as to meet others on the island!

September 1, 2020

Our Virtual Summer Program has come to a close and it's time to thank a host of people who made it all possible. First, our Board of Directors moved quickly and prudently in early March to shift our summer programs to a virtual format. We committed ourselves to keeping islanders safe, while at continuing to play an active role within the community.

The team that took this idea of shifting to a virtual summer and made it actually happen deserve a resounding standing ovation for their imagination, talent, commitment, and patience. This group includes Amanda O'Bannon, Anne Bertulli, Catherine Demchur-Merry, Cheryl Guadiana, Kerry Claflin, Michael Hutcherson, and Shar Piper. They turned the board's vision of a shift to a virtual summer into reality.

Thanks to all the artists, crafts people, and performers who willing joined us in this new adventure, hosting their work on-line, creating videos of their work spaces and performances, and providing us with the content we needed to populate our web site.

Finally, thanks to the Christ Church Centennial Fund for providing us with a generous grant to help defray the costs of this effort, and to everybody who browsed or bought at the virtual Arts and Crafts Show, attended one of our Zoom presentations, or watched the web page videos.

Some of the web page content will remain on-line through the fall and winter and beyond, so please stop by. We're all looking forward to seeing everyone in person next year - the Talent Show's only nine months away!

May 26, 2020
Attention All Performers

The Historical Society is disappointed that we will not be able to host you all at the customary Talent Show on the stage of Historical Society’s Pendleton Hall this June. Gathering a couple hundred people in one room just doesn’t seem like a very good idea this year, due to the corona virus. However, on the Talent Show page of the IHS website, you may enjoy, at your leisure, videos of three recent Talent Shows. (Please be kind as you view these videos, since traditionally, the camera never moves, and none have been edited for the modern viewer.)

This virtual change to the Talent Show doesn’t mean that we don’t want to enjoy your PRESENT talent and share it with the entire island however! These are unusual, historic times, and we hope to capture a time capsule of this period through your performances. “How?” you ask. Read on for the answer.

As you may know, this year also marks the 200th anniversary of Maine statehood. Before COVID-19 upended everybody’s plans, the Historical Society (in conjunction with the Alice L. Pendleton Library and other island organizations) were planning a huge Bicentennial Bash that would celebrate all things Maine and Islesboro. On August 22nd, we had planned to parade, sing Maine songs, tell Islesboro stories, recite poems, show photographs of familiar people, play music, and act out skits to celebrate our state and our island. (We may still hold a 6-foot distant picnic on that day, if permitted.)

Once the virus scuttled those plans, we decided it would be safer to host a virtual celebration on the Historical Society web site. So now, instead of directing your talents to the Talent Show Page, we want to encourage you to consider recording your performance, submitting it to the Historical Society, and we’ll host it on our Bicentennial page. For those of you who were itching to get up at the Talent Show, this can represent a virtual substitute. From our perspective, any performance is a celebration of Maine, Islesboro, and the island community. If you want to weave the Bicentennial into your performance that’s terrific, but with or without explicit Bicentennial references, we think Islesboro’s amazing talent honors both our state and island community. At the end of the summer, the historical society will have a virtual and archival scrapbook of special talks and films, visual art from local artists and craftspeople, and performance pieces from islanders that will record how Islesboro celebrated the Bicentennial and how we passed this unusual summer of social distance.

There’s lots of good information on-line about making good videos for YouTube. We ask that you:

If you have questions, or just want to submit your performance, email me at pobannon5@gmail.com or text me at 513-300-1511. Have fun everybody!

May 23, 2020
Attention all Artists and Craft People

Dear Islesboro Craftspeople and Artists,

Some of you have read in the Islesboro Island News or heard from Shar Piper, that the Islesboro Historical Society’s (IHS) entire summer program will be offered to the Islesboro community in a virtual manner, so no matter where people may be this summer, they will be able to access our programs and activities. The Historical Society building will be closed until further notice, but thanks to long-time Board Member John Mitchell, the grounds will be maintained. (If you are on the island, please admire Bill Tilden’s clearing of trees from the west side of the building.)

All IHS programs this summer will be offered through the IHS website through links to “pages,” that correspond to our normal summer activities, starting with the Talent Show, our Wednesday evening presentations, the Arts & Crafts Show, as well as a page for celebrating Maine’s Bicentennial.

Shar Piper, (past organizer of the Arts and Crafts Show), Patrick O’Bannon, (IHS President), and I thought, in light of the pandemic, that it would be safer to offer craftspeople and artists the opportunity to present your work in a virtual arts and crafts show hosted on the IHS website that will last from July through August. The IHS virtual show will be similar to the Art of the Isles on-line store, and we’re working closely with them, including restoring our commission to 20%, to provide an outlet for artists with a connection to Islesboro this summer. We hope the artists’ and the shoppers’ experience will be similar on both sites. Your specific Arts and Crafts Show “Page” will include a short bio for you, photos of the examples of your art/craft you’re offering for sale, but IHS would like to include something new: a short “process video” of you creating/talking about your craft/art. (Maximum length: 2 minutes)

We hope that you will keep the general theme of this summer “Maine 200 Bicentennial,” in mind, along with the unusual nature of this particular season. We consider any craft or work of art a celebration of Maine, Islesboro, and the island community. If you want to weave the Bicentennial into your pieces that’s great, but with or without explicit Bicentennial references, we think Islesboro’s art and crafts honor both our state and our island.

At the end of the summer, the Historical Society will assemble a virtual scrapbook of talks, films, visual art and process videos from Islesboro-connected artists and craftspeople, and performance pieces from islanders, that record how Islesboro celebrated the Bicentennial and how we passed this summer of social distancing. We invite you to let this time we’re living in infuse what you say about yourself in your bio, your process video (video of you weaving, painting, taking photos, blowing glass, throwing clay and/or talking about your process), and of course in your creative works themselves. Later, these virtual pages will be archived under Islesboro’s Celebration of Maine’s 200th Bicentennial and serve as a time capsule for people to return to in future years.

If you have questions, please email me at amandaobannon5@gmail.com or call me here in Providence. I’m not going anywhere. My number is 513-315-6516. I’m looking forward to a different summer season with you.

Amanda O’Bannon

April 2, 2020
IHS and the 2020 Season

As I write this post, the town of Islesboro, the state of Maine, and most of the nation are in lockdown because of the Covid-19 virus. As a result, we at the Islesboro Historical Society have decided to move our 2020 summer season on-line. We’re working out the details of how to host the Talent Show, evening programs, arts (and crafts) shows, and other programs and events here and on our Facebook page. Be patient - we’re historians, not technology gurus!

Please keep an eye on this site and our Facebook page for more announcements and information on our virtual summer season.

Many thanks,
Patrick O’Bannon, President

July 31, 2017
It's Here - Islesboro Cottages Map!

The Historical Society is pleased to be able to offer reproductions of the ca. 1925 Islesboro Land & Improvement Company's "Map of Dark Harbor." Long out of print, the map depicts the southern end of the island and shows the location and owner's name of many of the Dark Harbor Colony's cottages. We've reproduced this historical document in full color and are offering it for sale (unframed) for $50.00 plus tax in the Museum. We have a limited number available, so be sure to drop by and pick up your copy.

image of cottages map

December 21, 2016
The Islesboro Land & Improvement Company

One of the most important changes to take place on Islesboro in this period was the development of the Dark Harbor summer colony. This development is closely tied to the activities of the Islesboro Land & Improvement Company, which purchased large tracts of land in the 1880s, subdivided the land into lots, and offered those lots for sale to “rusticators” and summer cottagers. The Land & Improvement Company did not represent the first effort to bring summer visitors and residents to Islesboro. Shortly after the Civil War, hotels at Ryder’s Cove and Hewes Point began to cater to vacationers from Bangor, who arrived by steamer at the east side landings. About 1882, Benjamin Ryder and William R. Coombs, owners of most of the shoreline at Ryder’s Cove, began to subdivide their property and sell off building lots for as little as $25. Sewell Fletcher began to do the same thing at Hewes Point at about the same time. And at the far southern end of the island, Jeffrey Brackett, a wealthy young Bostonian, purchased Job’s and Middle Island and about 150 acres at the southern tip of the island in 1882 for a summer estate.

Clearly, real estate development was in the air on Islesboro by the early 1880s, when Boston real estate broker James Murray Howe discovered North Haven and began development of a summer colony on that island. In 1884 Howe visited Islesboro, decided the island was ripe for its own summer colony, and began casting about for investors. Howe promoted Islesboro to James D. Winsor, the Boston-born owner of a Philadelphia-based steamship company, who toured the island with Howe in the spring of 1885. Winsor organized the Islesboro Land & Improvement Company, whose investors were mostly fellow wealthy Philadelphians, and began buying land on the island in 1888. In August 1889, Winsor turned over 36 separate parcels, totaling well over one thousand acres, to the Land & Improvement Company, who hired surveyors to map and subdivide the parcels into building lots and began offering those lots for sale. To facilitate sales of building lots, and to provide for the budding summer community, the Land & Improvement Company spent $175,000 to build the Islesboro Inn, a 39-room hotel with its own steamship dock, perched above the southern shore of Dark Harbor pool.

This part of the story is fairly well known, but the Land & Improvement Company’s interests extended well beyond Dark Harbor to include parcels across the islands that featured water access and stunning views. Winsor purchased significant tracts of land on the west side of the Meadow Pond, on Coombs Bluff, overlooking Ryder’s Cove, on Keller Point, and on 700 Acre Island. Some of these parcels were developed by summer residents. For example, George W.C. Drexel a Philadelphia newspaper publisher and banker, bought over 150 acres on Coombs Bluff in 1902 from the Land & Improvement Company and hired the Boston-based architectural firm of Peabody & Stearns to design his cottage, “Gripsholm,” which was completed in 1904. At Keller Point, Louise N. Grace, the daughter of one-time New York mayor and founder of the W.R. Grace shipping line, William Grace, purchased nearly 135 acres in 1918 from the Land & Improvement Company and hired prominent Philadelphia architect Wilson Eyre to design her cottage.   

Other parcels were purchased simply as investment opportunities. In 1889, for example, when the Land & Improvement Company first began offering land for sale, a Baltimore grain merchant named Blanchard Randall purchased 70 acres north of the former John Gilkey farm, subdivided the tract, and sold off the lots. Several investors in the Land & Improvement Company, notably Philadelphia physician Samuel Dixon, also purchased lots and resold them. A number of tracts remained unsold, and in April 1929 the company voted to accept island resident George W. Dodge’s offer to buy the balance of their unsold property for the bargain price of $5,500. The deal was completed in early October 1929, with Dodge acquiring 19 parcels totaling about 400 acres. The Land & Improvement Company managed to divest themselves of their unsold land two weeks before the stock market crash. At the same time, George W. Dodge acquired property that likely provided him a source of income, through his sales of the various lots and tracts, for the rest of his life.

As we continue to explore old land records we’ll update this story, but for now it’s obvious that Islesboro experienced a wave of development for summer residents in the 1880s and that the Islesboro Land & Improvement Company’s interests extended beyond Dark Harbor to include many portions of the island with water access and sweeping views.    


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