Wish Renys a Happy Anniversary
How’s this for history? Maine’s homegrown department store celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. After founder R.H. Reny opened his first store on Damariscotta’s Main Street, on October 6, 1949, he famously drummed up business by driving up and down the Pemaquid Peninsula, selling house-to-house out of the back of his car (and befriending future customers). The store caught on, and today, Renys has expanded to 17 Maine locations, including a former bowling alley across the street from the original (known as Renys Underground, as it initially operated only at the basement level). Each store maintains the simple charm of the original, offering everything from Carhartts to groceries to fishing rods to Marshmallow Fluff. ► Visit the original Renys at 116 Main St., Damariscotta. 207-563-5757. To find the others, use the store locator at renys.com.
Visit the original Damariscotta location and find the still-in-use, 70-year-old wooden display rack built by the late R.H. Reny himself for the store’s opening. It has a plaque on the side bearing the founder’s customer-service motto, “We still offer a lot of ourselves.”
Explore the Past at Chamberlain Day
Joshua Chamberlain started renting a two-story Cape in downtown Brunswick in 1856, down the road from Bowdoin College, where the 28-year-old had just taken on as a professor. In 1865, he returned to the house as a Civil War hero, and he went on to become Bowdoin’s president and Maine’s governor. Today, the Chamberlain House is a museum managed by the Pejepscot Historical Society, which observes Chamberlain Day on August 10, celebrating the legacy of Brunswick’s favorite son (and best mustache until Angus King came along). Free tours show off wartime artifacts like the brigadier general’s saddle and bayonets, plus the trappings of 19th-century domestic life. Events include a free evening concert of Civil War ballads (with sing-alongs!) in the Bowdoin College Chapel. ► 226 Maine St., Brunswick. 207-729-6606. pejepscothistorical.org
Take the Chamberlain House tour, but so as not to disrupt it, shoot your selfie with the bronze Chamberlain statue across the street.
See an Archaeological Site at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge
In 1971, a hiker at Old Town’s Hirundo Wildlife Preserve stumbled upon what archaeologists would later recognize as one of inland Maine’s largest and longest-occupied Native American camps, in use for some 4,500 years. Hikers today can learn about it, and about the region, along Hirundo’s interpretive Wabanaki Trail, an easy loop of less than a ½-mile that passes the now-excavated site. The camp was strategically located alongside Pushaw Stream, an optimal fishing spot, which visitors can paddle in one of Hirundo’s free canoes. ► Follow the Gate 1 road to the lot and trailhead for the Wabanaki Trail. 1107 West Old Town Rd., Old Town. 207-394-2171. hirundomaine.org
Snap a photo with the trailhead sign as you set out on the Wabanaki Trail. Out of respect for the archaeological landmark, please refrain from taking photos at the site itself and, of course, stay on
the posted trail.
Ferry Out to the Preble-Marr Historical Museum
Big year for the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society and its museum on Great Cranberry Island, southwest of Mount Desert Island. An ongoing capital campaign funded an expansion to the Cranberry House community center that houses the Preble-Marr Historical Museum. New climate-controlled archives allow for proper storage of fragile documents and artifacts, and the society hopes to double the size of the display area, where visitors admire, among other things, 19th-century nautical charts and wooden “Hitty Preble” dolls made famous by a 1929 children’s book, partially set on the island. Local painters, sculptors, and others fill the museum with works for sale during the annual Art of the Cranberry Isles exhibit, August 4–10. ► 163 Cranberry Rd. 207-244-7800. gcihs.org. The free Cranberry Explorer stretch golf cart travels to and from the museum every half hour. Ferries and water taxis service the island from Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor.
Get a shot on the porch out front, where the snackish enjoy lobster rolls from Hitty’s Café.
Block Out Some Time in Fort Kent
The Fort Kent Blockhouse is an odd little two-story structure, built from cedar logs, that played a key role during the Aroostook War in 1838 and 1839. It’s a “war” where no shots were ever fired, though the U.S. Congress did authorize sending 50,000 federal troops to northern Maine as Mainers and New Brunswickers squabbled and threatened one another over borders (and valuable timber). A treaty was negotiated before the mass of troops showed up, but fortifications sprang up on both sides, of which the Fort Kent blockhouse is the only one left in the U.S. It’s now a state park property and a National Historic Landmark, and it’s worth the small day-use fee to see the historic artifacts inside. ► Open to visitors 9 a.m.–sunset, Memorial Day–Sept. Blockhouse Rd., Fort Kent. 207-941-4014. parksandlands.com
Grab a selfie from the parking lot so we can see the blockhouse’s whole Lincoln Log facade behind you.