Vinalhaven Island, ME - an artist getaway and a House of Hope.

Let’s meet for coffee! ...I'm so glad we did!


We rendezvoused with friends the day before in a secluded cove off of North Haven Island. Tad and I were heading to Long Cove and they were biking to Vinalhaven, so we agreed to meet for coffee along the way. We arrived at the funky miss-matched working port and moored to a buoy armored by seaweed and questioned integrity. I could see Tad secretly checking on the boat while we were in town and I kept thinking.....what WOULD he do if it started to float away?


Anne and Will were already at the coffee shop with the grumpy barista and homeless man who walked around tapping shoulders and telling people they needed to leave. The four of us enjoyed our lattes and fun conversation with a couple from Manhattan who have been coming to Vinalhaven each summer for the last 30 years. They suggested we visit the local flea market, which we did. If you're thinking of checking it out...ummm, no need to rush!



A bit of history:

Archeological remains indicate that the island was first inhabited 3800–5000 years ago by the Red Paint People. Europeans visited in the 16th century, and the first permanent English settlement occurred in 1766. Others soon followed to establish the remote fishing and farming community. On June 25, 1789, Named for John Vinal. Vinalhaven was incorporated as a town. Ironically, he was not an island resident, merely the agent who petitioned the Maine General Court to incorporate the new township; nonetheless, the name stuck!


Vinalhaven has a long history as a working island - from the massive granite quarry operations that supplied stone to the east coast from 1826 until 1930 to the current thriving lobstering business. Approximately 1,300 year-round residents make Vinalhaven home, and the most populated island in the state. Today the island is dotted with abandoned old quarries, many of which have since filled with groundwater and are popular swimming holes for residents and visitors alike.


Hollywood: The 2006 movie Islander was filmed, in part, on Vinalhaven and some of the locals acted in the movie.


Now.... the Story within the Story:


I wrote an earlier post about Tad’s noticing I always stopped to take pictures of old, worn, and broken things. I hadn’t noticed it before, but after giving it thought, I realized I was drawn to such things because they had a story.


As we passed the shops of downtown we came to a Victorian mansion that gave Vinalhaven it’s artsy miss-matched feel. It was closed up, roped off, worn and abandoned. The house filled me with a feeling of sadness and drew me to move the neon cones that warned the passer-by not to trespass. There has to be a story, I thought. And, there was.


(Star of Hope statue added to this image)

The Star of Hope, a Victorian building (pictured above) that had previously served as an Odd Fellows Lodge was purchased by renowned artist, Robert Indiana in 1978. Known best for his popular “LOVE” sculpture, Robert was a pillar in the New York artist community and his notoriety was worldwide. Indiana found escape from the New York scene in this house for over 40 years.


In researching Indiana, I read that fellow artist raised concern over the past few years that they had lost personal contact with their friend, which was highly unusual. It appears Mr. Indiana’s assistant responded to all inquires stating, “Mr. Indiana is not well and cannot respond or take visitors.” However, at the same time, the work allegedly turned out by Mr. Indiana (age 89) was prolific. Sadly, he passed away last year, disconnected from those he loved. There is an ongoing investigation surrounding his death and the authenticity of the art of his final years.


I know it's and inanimate object, but I believe this miss-matched house that once breathed creativity from its walls has grown frail from loneliness. I so hope someone sees its beauty and restores the creativity and hope back into its life.


What to see:

Will and Anne said biking through Vinalhaven is beautiful. The trails are well marked, and the old quarries, now filled with water are glassy lakes bordered by large granite boulders, weathered smooth. The Brown Head Lighthouse was very pretty from the boat, and they offer tours. If you've not done a lighthouse tour, they are surprisingly cool!


Mooring:

We moored in Carvers Harbor. We had no luck in reaching the Harbor Master by radio or phone, but I'll provide the info below. There were three white un-marked buoy's just past the ferry dock. We used an open one, but it looked like it hadn't been used in a very long time. None-the-less, it held!


Phone: (207) 863-2151   VHF: Monitor Ch. 16   Talk Ch. 82 Email: captbub1973@msn.com

Atlantic Cruising Club Info: Overnight dockage possible at float next to the Ferry Wharf - See harbormaster (750-0507), which also has a dinghy dock (two hour tie-up now permitted. Dinghy dock at Town Dock (in parking lot across from IGA).Tie up to rear or sides, not front. (2- hr. limit on front). No trash disposal. Hopkin's Boatyard manages most emergency repairs & and maintains a small ships' store. Bathhouse: Heads at Town Wharf and Ferry terminal. No showers.


Another Resource:

Visit Maine is a great resource for Maine's transient mooring options.


Note: you can also reach the island by ferry. Vinalhaven Ferry service leaves out from Rockland and takes a little over an hour.

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