MONHEGAN ISLAND, August 2018.
Last week was very special! Pat, our eldest daughter, Jan, and I took the Hardy Boat to Monhegan Island—twelve miles off the coast of Maine. Jan has been going to Monhegan to visit her friends, Ingrid and Andy Sherrill and convinced us to return to the island and spend a night at the Island Inn.
Theodore Edison, inventor Thomas Edison’s son, started coming to the Island in the 1908 at ten years old. He wrote, “The beauty and freedom with which I and other members of my family have fond memories of Monhegan as it was ‘in the old days.’” He loved Monhegan as it was and after graduating from MIT (about the same time my father was there) he heard about plans to divide the Island into building lots, He started buying land as it became available. In 1954 he announced his plan to organize a trust, which would consist of all his land at his death. He donated his land to an organization called the Monhegan Associates, Inc. Although Ted and his wife, Ann, never owned a house of their own and always stayed at the Island Inn. Ann was an artist and eventually they bought a studio. Today, thanks to Edison and many others, two-thirds of the Island is set aside with no development possible.
After the boat arrived, we walked up the steep path to the Monhegan Museum of Art and History. Fortunately, Pat and I brought walking sticks which were most helpful. This amazing museum just received a million-dollar challenge grant from Jamie and Phyllis Wyeth, who own the refurbished Monhegan house built in 1905 by the artist Rockwell Kent (for his mother.)
The Monhegan Museum—celebrating its 50thAnniversary with a very special art show of the many artists (70) who have painted on this island. Rockwell Kent, Andrew Wyeth, Edward Hopper, Jim Fitzgerald, George Bellows and many others have painted here. We enjoyed the variety of paintings and historical items from the Island known for its lobster industry and tourism. We later walked down and stopped by the Monhegan Brewery that opened in 2013.
I first heard about the Island Inn from my father who spent a week there in 1920 with his parents and talked about Monhegan the rest of his life.. The inn has only thirty-two rooms, but it has been well maintained and we loved the experience staying there. We had a wonderful dinner at the Inn with the Sherrills and their three offspring, Maddie, Vlade, and William.
I started going out there 18 years ago on my own boat. I remember a day trip on my boat, Pat Patwith our granddaughter, Sayde. on a beautiful Maine day. We anchored close to shore where Ingrid and Andy Sherrill now rent a house. I took a nap while Sayde swam. On another Monhegan trip with Pat, my Twin sister Mercy, and her husband Bats, we picked up a mooring in the small harbor. The only dock there is for Ferry boats and one must ‘borrow’ a mooring from a lobster boat that may be out fishing. We ate a delicious lunch on another beautiful day. On our trip back to South Bristol, Bats took the helm and assured me he knew the way back. Mercy and I talked for about an hour on the stern seat, not paying any attention to where we were headed. The weather was hazy, and Bats and Pat were talking. I asked Bats if he knew where we were, and he said, “You’d better check, Hank.” I discovered we were headed for somewhere between the Maine Coast and Spain. We turned 90 degrees and took another hour to reach the Damariscotta River and home base.
This island was discovered by Captain John Smith in 1614—the same year he discovered and named ‘Christmas Cove.’ Since it is out in the Atlantic Ocean, most islanders leave in the fall with between 40 and 70 year-round residents.
We loved our short Monhegan stay and look forward to returning next year. Perhaps Pat will join the illustrious list of famous painters in capturing the spectacular scenic beauty and uniqueness of this rustic island.