Art and History in York and Ogunquit
Ogunquit is a Native American name for "Beautiful place by the sea"...
Sep 21, 2018 at 5:00 AM in Things to Do by
Ogunquit, a Native American name that means “beautiful place by the sea,” does indeed rank as one of Maine’s most alluring destinations. First settled in the 1600s, its natural splendor attracted artists to its shores during the late 1800s and vacationers soon followed. Ogunquit’s picturesque seascapes have been captured on canvas and eventually on iPhones by visitors from around the world.
But beginning centuries before that–toward the late 1600s–shipbuilding and fishing contributed to the livelihood of Ogunquit’s hearty residents. There even was a time toward the late nineteenth century that fishermen and artists worked side by side around Perkins Cove. You can find out more about this storied time in history and the artistic scene of today by taking an Ogunquit art colony walking tour organized by the Ogunquit Museum of American Art. Make sure to save time to visit the museum, the only one of its kind entirely devoted to American Art. It’s just a short walk from Perkins Cove and well worth it for its art as well as for its sculpture-filled gardens and spectacular panoramic views of the Atlantic.
History buffs will enjoy touring the Captain James Winn House at The Ogunquit Heritage Museum. It’s a sweet example of Colonial Architecture and a fitting tribute to a seaman that sailed a 161-ton brig numerous times before succumbing to an illness that eventually lead to his demise. Yes, life was hard back in those days, especially when you spent a lot of time at sea. The ships were big, too–any idea how big a 161-ton brig is? Yeah, pretty darn big.
Farther south in York, you can step back in history by visiting some of the old buildings maintained as museums by the Old York Historical Society. The seafaring and adventurous stories that they tell conjure up images of the York of centuries ago when this coastal town served as a major trading center taking in goods such as sugar and spices in exchange for lumber and agricultural products.
York’s upward trajectory continued throughout the ages, eventually attracting high society vacationers seeking the calm and coolness of a Maine summer. Architectural fans will revel in the fine examples of homes, mostly in the Shingle Style, from York’s Gilded Age.
If you’re looking to buy art from the many galleries in the Ogunquit art colony–or just gaze upon more inspiring interpretations of the local culture and scenery–go to Van Ward Gallery in Ogunquit. Or check out the great gift items at Art and Soul. And for creative baubles, collectibles and various other objets d’art, go to Sea Glass Jewelry in Ogunquit and Swamp John’s in Perkins Cove. Glad to see that the artistic spirit still floats people’s boats in this beautiful Maine coastal town.
In York Beach, you can find some sweet locally-crafted items at Chases Garage: Artist Studios & Gallery.
As for performing art, you’ll discover some of the best around at the Ogunquit Playhouse. Way to bring a bit of Broadway to this small New England town. Good news is that shows run periodically from May all the way through December.