Penobscot Marine Museum

Rte. 1 & Church St.

Searsport, ME

September 23, 1999

While traveling down the Maine coast, we constantly saw the effect that marine occupations had on the people, the towns, and their way of living; in addition to sampling many of the creatures (lobster, clams, fish, etc.) that came from the sea. We were interested in finding out what life was like in the early fishing villages and how the people lived in those days. When we passed the Penobscot Marine Museum on our way to Rockport, we decided that we would come back and go through the museum to learn about these things. Well, once again, we were pleasantly surprised by what looked like a "standard museum" on the outside. We have found over our travels that so often what makes a museum are the people involved. It is wonderful to find the people that founded the Penobscot Marine Museum preserving history for those of us who come behind. We learned that this is the oldest maritime museum in Maine which began in the fall of 1986. Its purpose was to preserve the heritage of the entire Penobscot image01Bay region and educate it’s residents.

We first met with Lynne K. Blair, Administrative Assistant, to get some information on the museum and its background. Ms. Blair insisted that we look around first, so we would have an overall view of the museum and its contents, and then we could return and ask questions.
We then proceeded to the Admissions Building and picked up a brochure. In the Admissions Building they feature various rotating exhibitions that change with every season. After looking around an exhibit on net making and arming ourselves with our brochure we set out on the self-guided tour of what appeared more like a Marine Village rather than just the Museum that they advertised. We found out that there are 12 buildings in the complex. 10 of these buildings are the original buildings, they were not moved from anywhere else to this location. One building (The Memorial Art Gallery) was rebuilt, but was actually built on the original foundation that was there. One of the buildings is a Congregational Church that is located within the same block as the Museum buildings. This does not belong to the Museum, but has been gracious enough to allow the Museum Visitors to tour the church. Shown is one of the windows of the church which is believed by some to possibly be Tiffany Glass, but this cannot be confirmed so there is still a question about it. I’m not familiar enough with Tiffany Glass to say one way or another, but I do know that they certainly were lovely.
We then
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proceeded to the Captain Jeremiah Merithew House. From what we found out Captain Merithew was not actually a boat captain, but in those days a person who owned a ship building company could use the title of Captain. He and his wife built their house on the hill so that he could oversee the operations of his shipyard, as well as the Bank which he also owned. In looking at Captain Merithew’s portrait, he certainly looked the part. Also, in the house they image6featured a movie taken in 1929 of a ship called "The Peking" sailing around Cape Horn. It was narrated by Capt. Johnson in 1980. He was the same man who had made the movie as he sailed on her as a seaman. The movie was fascinating. In addition there were several excellent paintings of ships throughout the house. This picture, in particular, portrayed for me, the stark beauty and strength of the ocean, and what some of the early sailors must haveimage7 had to endure.
Bob is a sailing buff and really enjoyed some of the old boats that they had on display.

CAPTAIN’S GIG "LITTLE ELVA"

Built by the crew of the ship CORA for the son of Captain Robert H. Coombs, ca. 1881 on a return voyage from the Orient.

This boat possesses the same lines as a CORA lifeboat, with a fin keel, but was built to a smaller scale. Most of its varnished wood, known as "brightwork" is teak, and its knees are of camphorwood. Captain Coombs did the decorative woodcarving himself.

Length 16 ft. in. Beam: 4 ft. 3 in. Depth amideships: 2 ft. 1 in.

Donor: Horace M. Coombs

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