BelfastThe only city in this region (population 6,400) and the location of health services including the hospital, home health, two nursing homes, family planning, mental health services and assisted living apartments. The adopted home of many artists and artisans, musicians, writers and craftspeople, Belfast has a thriving theater and gallery community. There is a public indoor and outdoor pool, hiking trails, rivers for canoeing and kayaking, a YMCA, parks and a public boat launch at the harbor. Belfast real estate consists of residential streets lined with historic homes, condominiums (at the ocean and in residential neighborhoods), farmhouses in the outer city limits and some lovely oceanfront homes.
Blue HillLocated on the easterly side of the Blue Hill Peninsula and at the base of blueberry-covered Blue Hill (elev. 950’) is the village of Blue Hill (population 2,400). Blue Hill harbor is a protected port for sailors because it is not at the very tip of the peninsular and misses high winds and stormy seas in many storms. There is a public boat launch in the center of town, but avoid it at low tide because it is muddy. Blue Hill is 14 miles from Ellsworth and 36 miles from Bangor, although groceries, wine shops, bookstores, banks, a bakery and art galleries are all right here. Blue Hill has a history of shipbuilding, copper mining and granite mining and in 1876 the granite for the Gothic towers of the Brooklyn Bridge was shipped to New York for the construction. Blue Hill has two private high schools, a public and a private elementary school and a library and hospital among the finest in the state.
CastineLocated at the mouth of the Penobscot River, Castine is one of the oldest towns in New England, predating the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts by seven years. Discovered and drawn on the first map of the area in 1604 by the geographer for France’s King HenryIV, the village was officially founded in 1613 when a trading post and crude fort were erected. The area now has over 20 historical sites marked by signs describing the significance of the spot over a span of 250 years. The excellent deep harbor has tie-ups for small boats outside the river currents and other tourist amenities including a non-exclusive club offering golf, tennis and yachting facilities, restaurants and lodging. A picturesque village green, the oldest post office (in continuous operation) in the United States and lovely Cape Cod and neo-Colonial houses give the town (population 1,300) added charm. Castine is also home to the Maine Maritime Academy, established in 1941 to train merchant seamen. Beginning in the 1870s Castine was the summer home of many well-to-do urban families and well known notables including Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Since the 1890s families from Boston, Hartford and Chicago have been buying old farms and sea captains’ houses and establishing a civilized pocket in this part of rural Maine.
East Blue HillTo the north (up the coast) from Blue Hill about 6 miles is the little “village-ette” of East Blue Hill, consisting of a one-room post office with a wood stove, a library in a former summer cottage, a church and a stone lighthouse. Local commercial fishermen dock at a pier and marina here which gives this area a less “tourist feel”. There is no gift shop in sight! There are actual salt water farms in East Blue Hill and clam flats. It is located on a road less traveled and many visitors to the area miss it entirely.
HopeThis lovely village amid the rolling hills west of coastal Camden has increased its population by 300 in the last 10 years to about 1,800. It includes a Hope Center and South Hope, which has the actual Main Street. Hope Center is the heart of the community in part because the
current owner of the Hope General Store located there has become a “mover and shaker,” not only introducing a new look and new products in his store (imported British and Irish products, a wine selection and over 100 beers) but also generating ideas for town activities and promoting them. This year, for example, there is a jazz concert in the park and a triathlon (swim, bicycle and run) in addition to more traditional community events like the 20th annual Hobbs Pond Swim, an event with no registration, no prizes…just show up and swim! Hope Center is not only home to a modest library, historical museum and ice cream stand, but also has a blacksmith shop (creating iron tables, chairs and sculpture), a bellows bagpipe maker, a Publick House and Restaurant in this rural town once only known for its wild blueberry and apple harvests. Hope is Hip!