Main Streets 2016: Maine
Like many other coastal towns in Maine, Rockland identifies itself with the sea as much as it does with its downtown — and Main Street embodies that connection. Just a block from the waterfront, you’ll find distinctive seacoast shops and eateries here. Behind the scenes is Rockland Main Street, an active community organization whose efforts to preserve and promote the downtown have been guided by its affiliation with the Maine Downtown Center and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
It’s technically on a side street, but the world-famous Farnsworth Museum anchors the Main Street district. Some of the best known artists who have called or still call Maine home are represented in the museum’s collection, including the three generations of Wyeth painters, whose work captured so much of quintessential America. The acclaimed painters, especially James and N.C. Wyeth, are featured in the museum’s Wyeth Center. An addition to the original museum has a memorable collection of paintings and drawings by Andrew Wyeth.
Museums in Rockland aren’t just dedicated to fine art. The Maine Lighthouse Museum maintains a collection of artifacts from lighthouses and the lifesaving service they once helped support. Back on Main Street, the Island Institute is a working link between Midcoast Maine and the state’s famed network of coastal islands. Rockland Ferry Services, whose dock is accessed from Main Street, connects the city with Vinalhaven and North Haven islands.
There’s also plenty of good Maine fun to be had along Main Street. Galleries display new and emerging artists, while restaurants and cafes are gathering spots for both local residents and visitors. Popular annual festivals include the two-day North Atlantic Blues Festival in July and the multi-day Maine Lobster Festival, featuring food, crafts and the Great Lobster Crate Race in August. Not to be missed in December is the Festival of Lights, with the lighting of the Lobster Trap Tree and the a parade of lighted floats down Main Street.
While you’re here, don’t miss the chance to wander off Main Street and see some of this old shipbuilding and railroading center’s neighborhoods. You’ll see why Rockland was recognized in 2012 among the Best Old House Neighborhoods, by the TV show of the same name.
Nighttime photo courtesy of Dave Clough Photography