Introduction by Meredith Hutchins
Photographs for "Southwest Harbor Then and Now" were chosen from our collection of over 11,000 images to illustrate how the town has grown and altered over the past 132 years.
It sometimes seems to us that change occurs slowly, if at all, in our small town, yet when archivists began to put this collection of photographs together, it became apparent that a resident of this village in 1900, who walked the streets of Southwest Harbor today, might feel somewhat disoriented by all that has been lost, and perhaps surprised by what remains.
The roads of today would no longer be dirt covered, two garages would have disappeared, both the Crane house and the Park Theatre that was subsequently built at the same location on the corner of Main Street and Clark Point Road, would have vanished and a number of substantial houses would have been moved, torn down or lost to fire.
There are of course a few familiar scenes that remain in the Southwest Harbor of 2015. The Eugene Norwood Square still exists, though the large white Cook house beyond has recently been demolished, and nearer town the Grace Simmons house is extant, if perhaps a bit harder to see through the foliage. The Fuller house, at the corner of Main Street and the Herrick Road, has been replaced by the Gilley Museum, though the house itself still stands a few hundred yards away.
In the village proper the George A. Neal house was torn down some years ago to make way for a bank and the Gordon & White Garage has been repurposed, as has the old Southwest Harbor Elementary School, which now forms the core of the Southwest Harbor Town Office and Police Station in a different location. However, the old views of Main Street, both north and south, show how severely the town was decimated by the March 1922 fire and many new buildings been erected.
And then there's the Southwest Harbor Public Library, which survived the fire of 1922 and has endured four additions since 1895. The library building we have today is a testament to our love for it and its meaning in our lives. It anchors us all, both summer people and winter residents, and we can be proud that the original building still stands.
We hope the show will delight you and remind you of some of the history of your village, as we all wend our way through the twenty first century.
For who can predict what Southwest Harbor will be like when 2115 rolls around? Your archivists would not dare. They can only hope that the Southwest Harbor Public Library will continue to be a repository for its extensive collection of historic photographs and that the public will continue to enjoy and profit from them.