Ogunquit, Maine is a summertime vacation spot for many, with it’s beautiful coastline and New England seaside charm. But, besides sandy beaches and quaint gift shops, Ogunquit offers a vast history of fishing, lobstering, and New England architecture.
Ogunquit also has a rich cultural history provided by its vibrant art community and professional summer theatre stock.
The Ogunquit Heritage Museum, located at 86 Obeds Lane in Ogunquit, is dedicated to preserving documents, historical items, knowledge and memories of Ogunquit varied heritage.
The Ogunquit Heritage Museum (OHM) is housed in a circa 1780 building that was once the home of sea Captain James Winn.
Captain Winn was born in 1808, and lived in the home with his seafaring family until he was old enough to follow his family legacy. As Captain, he helmed the Winn family owned, 161 ton brig that departed regularly out of Kennebunkport.
Remarkably, through 200 years of owners and tenants, nothing has changed the original integrity of the Winn home. With original paneling, flooring and hardware still intact, the home formerly stood on Route One, but was moved after it was donated to the town.
The 18th century cape style house is now nestled in the Dorothea Jacob Grant Common, which features large open areas with winding paths, and is now the home of the Ogunquit Heritage Museum.
The Museum offers a visit back in time to favorite Ogunquit spots, such as Perkins Cove, Ogunquit River, Ogunquit Village, and the Marginal Way.
Learn about the sight of the first footbridge, the first Pavilion, and the first Ogunquit Playhouse.
Discover the interesting history of many sites like The Maxwell House, The Lookout Hotel, and The Woodbury Studio, just to name a few.
The OHM is also home to the Littlefield Library, that consists of books and documents originally owned by Charles Littlefield Seaman.
Charles Littlefield Seaman was an Ogunquit genealogist and historian, and a direct descendant of Edmund Littlefield (the immigrant ancestor of the New England Littlefields, founders of Wells, Maine). Charles is also the author of three books on Ogunquit history.
The growing collection at the Littlefield Library currently consists of almost 600 volumes of genealogy, family history, town and regional history, vital records, periodicals and maps pertaining to Maine and New England.
Residing in front of the Museum, or sometimes moored in Perkins Cove, is the Ogunquit Heritage Museum’s own dory. Built and launched in 2008, this dory is an exact replica of the famous Ogunquit dory (a small fishing boat).
The Ogunquit dory was created by William Henry Perkins, a local fisherman, and dotted the Ogunquit coastline in the late 1800’s. The Ogunquit dories were favored by local Maine fishermen, and differ from other similar vessels, because they were built to accommodate the rocky coast line and strong tides of Ogunquit, and had a very wide beam (middle section) to accommodate lobster traps or extra trawling equipment.
The sometimes colorfully painted Ogunquit dory has also been the subject of choice for many regional artists, making the dory a symbol of the Ogunquit coastline.
Because these dories are legendary and a part of Ogunquit coastal history, the OHM researched and labored to create a duplicate dory to display for the public to enjoy.
While enjoying all the wondrous sights Ogunquit has to offer, make time to stop at the Ogunquit Heritage Museum. This museum has been on the National Register of Historical Places since 1979, and will provide you with a meaningful appreciation of life in this coastal New England gem.
Admission to the Ogunquit Heritage Museum is free and open to the public June through October. Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m.
For information about the museum’s special events in the fall and winter months, visit www.ogunquit.org.