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Virtual Gallery: Selections from the Walsh History Center

Thursday, October 1, 2020 Saturday, October 31, 2020

During the month of October, the Camden Public Library celebrates “History Month.” In addition to numerous online programs (descriptions can be found by clicking here) and special features on social media, the library has curated a virtual exhibit of vintage photographs and images from the Walsh History Center. Thanks to Ken Gross for his efforts in researching and collecting the materials below.

The Walsh History Center at the Camden Public Library is charged with caring for material of historical significance to the residents of Camden and Rockport.  The center has a vast collection of historical photos and documents and serves as a preeminent resource for local research. Click here to learn more here.

Here is Camden High School in 1905, when it was still new. The high school was on Knowlton Street, on the site of the new middle school. I particularly like the image of the girl in the long skirt, running to the entrance.  (Photo from the Priscilla Adams Smith collection at the Camden Public Library.)  
Here is a  photograph of a crew of men and a team of horses coming into Camden with one enormous block of granite. The photo is signed “Harris Photo, 1907, Camden, ME.” This photo is taken at the foot of Washington Street.
A gritty photograph of the lime kilns and sail loft on Rockport harbor. Photo taken from bridge over Goose River, looking south toward Pascal Avenue and quarry train trestle. Photographed in 1907.
Joseph A. Brewster, early in his career, selling his merchandise door to door. Brewster eventually owned a factory for the manufacture of various garments, including the woolen Brewster Suit for winter activities.
Stephen Ritterbush was the architect and builder of much of Camden. He arrived in town in 1889, just in time for the Great Fire of 1892 and the re-building of Camden. Here he is at his house at 71 Mechanic Street. Apparently he was one of the first automobile owners in Camden (the license plate says “MAINE 1918”]. Ritterbush was immensely energetic and was a “Mason, being a member of Amity Lodge, Keystone Chapter, O.E.S., a charter member of Camden Commandery, Knights Templar, a Shriner and 32nd degree Mason. He was also a member of the I.O.O.F.”
Detail of Stephen Ritterbush’s construction crew c. 1915. Ritterbush employed between 30 and 100 men for his building jobs. Ritterbush was the architect and/or builder for many notable buildings in Camden, including the Masonic Block, the Carleton-Pascal Block, the Fletcher Block, the Comique Theater (1913), the Camden  YMCA (1916), the Brewster Mill (1912) , the Mt. Battie Woolen Mill, the Mortuary Chapel at Mountain View Cemetery (1923), and many of the fine large “cottages” built in Camden.
One of the buildings we lost in the Great Fire of 1892. It had had electricity! “In the winter of 1889, Mr. Johnson Knight, having finished his fine brick block on the site of the wooden blocks destroyed on Mechanic Street . . . put in an electric light plant to light it and afterwards formed a company for lighting other buildings and the streets of Camden and Rockport,” says Reuel Robinson in his “History of Camden and Rockport.”
This 1887 map shows the Knight Johnson block, labeled “Masonic Hall”, on the site of the current parking lot on the crook of Mechanic Street. All of these buildings burned down in the Great Fire of 1892.
The hall of the Masonic Lodge in Rockport. The building still exists at the corner of Central Street and Main Street.
Saturday, November 15, 1919, was Moving Day for the Potter Studio. The studio was moved from its original location, next to the Village Green, further north up Main Street where it became first a garage and finally, after a time, the Smiling Cow. Jay Potter (1872-1962) was a photographer in Camden. He lived on Jacobs Avenue, and had a camp on Megunticook Lake.  
The Ordway Plaster Company was a major business in Camden in the early 1900s. The “plasters” were an important part of the patent-medicine industry and were a pungent mix of ingredients, often including mustard. Reuel Robinson reported in 1907 that “Dr. D. P. Ordway Plaster Co., manufacturers of plasters and other patent medicines . . . is doing a very prosperous business through the mail and it is principally because of this business that the Camden Post-Office has been made a first class office and is the best paying office in this section of the state. This Plaster Company employs about 100 hands, principally young women, for a large proportion of the year and has an annual pay-roll of from $15,000 to $20,000.”  
“Studded” horseshoe found on the side of Ragged Mountain. It would have been used as part of the work of hauling firewood out of the woods in winter. It was much easier work in the winter when the ground was frozen, and the enormous studs on the horseshoes would have made for better footing on the snow and ice.
Shipyard workers in Camden during World War II taking a lunch break. The yard did an enormous amount of work for the Navy, working three shifts, with up to 1500 people employed.
Trolley tracks in Camden in the winter of 1900, from the collection of photographer Frank Caradoc Evans, 1898-1908.  
Trolley accident in Rockport Village, January 15, 1920. The building in the background, against which the trolley car came to rest, is the YMCA, now the Rockport Opera House. Trolley accidents were few but this one was fatal to the driver and one passenger. The wheels of the trolley are not visible in this photo because the car, on going around the corner, “started to sway, and in the turn the car came loose from the trucks [the wheels] and overturned, snapping a heavy trolley pole and coming to rest against the YMCA building. The trucks proceeded further down the track until they left the tracks at the turn by the Goose RIver Bridge. Crushed and instantly killed by the overturned trolley were Mrs. WIlliam Stanford of Glen Cove and Mr. Ernest Perry of Glen Cove, the motorman. Mr. Elmer B. Crockett, the conductor, escaped injury.”
A photograph of a picnic on Great Spruce Head Island August 13, 1913. A typewritten summary accompanies the photo, attributed to George W. Perry. George Perry is at bottom, left; his brother James Perry is at bottom, right. Kathleen Millay is top, third from left. Vincent Millay is seated, front row, third from left. Mildred Perry, sister to James and George, is top row, third from right. “Mrs. James Perry” is seated in the second row, with hat and glasses. The summary quotes Edna St. Vincent Millay’s diary about the event, via Norma Millay: “On August 13, 1913 — went on a bacon bat with the Perrys and a whole crowd to Big Spruce Head. Didn’t get home till after midnight.” (Photo courtesy Jeff Conrad). 
February 23, 1906 photo showing the Camden High School class of 1909, including George Perry and Edna St. Vincent Millay.
Back row: Bragg, Brown, Evans, Pullen, Andrews
Middle: Wadsworth, Hooper, Millay, Dodge, Arau
First:  Arey, Perry, Payson, Groves 
Turnpike Drive, along the shore of Megunticook Lake between Lincolnville and Camden, was first conceived in 1802 and completed in 1806, by Daniel Barrett. Barrett’s homestead was at the Camden end of the Turnpike, where the parking lot and Maiden’s Cliff trailhead are now located. Although it was a toll road, with tolls ranging from 3 cents for a foot traveler to 17 cents for horse and buggy, it did not cover costs. Barrett sold the turnpike in 1834 and eventually the towns of Lincolnville and Camden purchased it.  
View of the Summit House hotel built in 1897 by Columbus Buswell. The property was purchased in 1899 by the Mt. Battie Association and renovated the same year. Property torn down in 1920.
Photograph of four women standing on the balcony of the Summit House in 1909 with a view of Camden harbor below.
Bayview Street, c. 1916 —  a six-horse team pulling a large log down Bayview Street; the log extends up to the M.C. Whitmore building. The Chestnut Street Baptist Church is visible on the left, and M.C. Whitmore Co. is in the foreground. The Whitmore building is still in use.
Trolley crossing the old iron bridge in Rockport in 1908.
Trolley in Camden c 1920. Note the mix of carriages and automobiles.
55 Main Street
Camden, ME 04843 United States
207-236-3440