BLUE HILL PENINSULA / DEER ISLE
Poised on a promontory jutting into East Penobscot Bay, this charming seaport town was forged from a military heritage and a maritime disposition. Founded in 1613 as a French trading colony that evolved into the first European permanent settlement in New England, Castine was a major battlefield through the French and Indian wars, the American Revolution and the War of 1812. The town's only through street is named Battle Avenue. Its maritime bent is evident in the windjammers in its deep-water harbor and by the Maine Maritime Academy, as dominant a physical presence on the steep Castine hillside today as its enormous training vessel State of Maine is on the harbor when in port. Located well away from the mainstream, Castine became a summer colony for big-city "rusticators." They built well-tended Federal-style houses dressed in what appears to be the local uniform, pristine white with black shutters in town as well as shingled, Victorian-era mansions on the outlying shores. History is more noticeable here than in most such places, if only because there's a large historical marker at almost every turn.
The Wilson Museum, Perkins Street, Castine. Built in 1921 to house the extensive collections of anthropologist and geologist J. Howard Wilson, this is a highly personal place reflecting the tastes of Dr. and Mrs. Wilson and their world travels. "There's a bit of the whole world here," said the woman on duty. "The way it's laid out tells you the history of mankind back to Cyprus in 3000 B.C." Included are everything from remarkable beaded Indian moccasins and ceremonial leggins, ship models, an Indian pueblo model, firearms, stone artifacts and pottery to modern paintings by 21 artists spilling onto a rear porch above the harbor. The Wilsons' daughter, Mrs. Norman Doudiet, is the museum director and guiding force. The property also contains a working blacksmith shop, a hearse house with Castine's funeral vehicles from a century ago, and the 1763 John Perkins House, the area's oldest house, which was moved to the site and restored in 1970. (207) 326-8753. Museum open Memorial Day through September, Tuesday-Sunday 2 to 5, free. Open Sunday and Wednesday 2 to 5 during July and August are the Blacksmith Shop and Hearse House, free, and the Perkins House, $4.
>> Castine Lodging and Dining Suggestions
Castine Inn, 33 Main St., Box 41, Castine 04421.(207) 326-4365.
Pentagoet Inn, Main Street, Box 4, Castine 04421. (207) 326-8616 or (800) 845-1701.
The Manor Inn, Battle Avenue, Box 873, Castine 04421.(207) 326-4861.
>> Castine Lodging Suggestions
Castine Harbor Lodge, 147 Perkins Street, Box 215, Castine 04421. (207) 326-4335.
So small that the unknowing tourist could miss it, the tranquil treasure known as Blue Hill lies between the 940-foot-high hill from which it takes its name and an inlet of Blue Hill Bay. The village is the center of an area long known for fine handicrafts, especially pottery. Rowantrees Pottery, the institution inspired in 1934 by Adelaide Pearson through her friend Mahatma Gandhi, is still going strong in a rambling house and barn out Union Street at the edge of Blue Hill. Rackliffe Pottery at the other end of town is an offshoot of Rowantrees. Blue Hill is also known for the Kneisel Hall School of Music, founded by Dr. Franz Kneisel and called "the cradle of chamber music teaching in America." Concerts by guest artists and well-known faculty members are given summer weekends in a rustic concert hall off upper Pleasant Street.
>> Blue Hill Lodging Suggestions
Blue Hill Inn, Union Street, Box 403, Blue Hill 04614.(207) 374-2844 or (800) 826-7415.
>> Blue Hill Dining Suggestions
Arborvine, Main Street, Blue Hill. (207) 374-2441.
Jonathan's, Main Street, Blue Hill. (207) 374-5226.