Acadia National Park will preserve a 168-year-old building on Little Cranberry Island by leasing it to a non-profit boatbuilder.
Islesford Boatworks will rent the historic Blue Duck Ships store to the National Park Service for programs starting this summer. No opening date has been set, Acadia spokesperson Christie Anastasia said.
Park service officials have been working for more than a year to preserve the building, which is on the US National Register of Historic Places. They asked for proposals to save the building and chose Islesford. The building and adjoining Isleford Historical Museum reflect Maine’s maritime history in the 1800s.
The combination of the park department and the practical boatbuilder will help both parties, Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider said in a statement.
“We will improve the condition of this historic building, restore a connection to the waterfront for the community of Islesford and benefit the children and adults who participate in Boatworks programs,” said Schneider.
As part of the deal, the boatbuilder will improve the building while preserving its historic character.
“Personally, I think it’s really cool that a non-profit organization that builds boats sets up there,” Anastasia said. “When you get off the boat [onto the island], you will truly see maritime history come to life.
Representatives for Boatworks did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
The Blue Duck building has a colorful history. Edwin Hadlock, a local contractor, built the large, simple structure around 1850. He and his sons Gilbert and William used it as a ship store for at least 25 years, according to a park service history.
The building became a general store around 1875. University professor Dr. William Otis Sawtelle purchased the building around 1918. He named it the Blue Duck after discovering many duck decoys stored there and them. painted Prussian blue and scattered them around the property. .
Sawtelle formed the Islesford Historical Society and used the Blue Duck to display historical artifacts and memorabilia. In 1927, under Sawtelle’s direction, friends of the Society helped build the museum. Both became part of Acadia in 1948, according to history.
The Boatworks will use the Blue Duck to demonstrate and teach traditional boat building techniques to the island community and summer visitors, Anastasia said.
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