SEARSPORT, Maine — Maine's bicentennial was celebrated two years ago in 2020. That year also marked the 175th anniversary of the town of Searsport. To mark that milestone, the Penobscot Marine Museum decided to dedicate a new, permanent exhibit to honor the sailors and their families who made the town what it is today.
Cipperly Good, the Richard Saltonstall Jr. Curator of Maritime History at the museum, said this collection has been in the works for more than 75 years thanks to donations from the descendants of the people who once lived there.
"A lot of people driving up Route 1 see these gorgeous sea captains' houses, but we're so much more than that," Good said.
Good said Searsport is a town with a longstanding history of sailors who traveled overseas to make a living. Those sailors and their families set the foundation for the town. Now, a number of mementos from that time fill the Fowler-True-Ross House at the museum.
"I really think objects help tell stories and so now when you walk through the exhibit, it's a guided tour and someone can say, 'Oh, that's a really cool object,' and the tour guide can say, 'Oh, here's the story,'" Good said.
The new collection includes items such as a taxidermied turtle, china from Japan, Persian rugs, Japanese robes and clothing, antique furniture, and small-scale models of the ships that were once built right in town.
Good said a number of sentimental touches can also be found, like markings on a nautical chart that goes beyond showing how a sailor traveled from point A to B at sea.
"The proud papa has marked the spot where his baby was born, where his wife gave birth," Good said.
Karen Smith, executive director of the Penobscot Marine Museum, said she appreciates how the objects are able to bring real stories from years ago to life.
"This is a great way to show those roots that are so strong and beautiful and that people have such pride in," Smith said.
"Why are we still here 175 years later? It's because of the people that came before us," Good said.
The Penobscot Marine Museum officially opened for the season on Friday. Smith said it will be open every day until it closes for the season in late October.