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Life in the Land of Tourists

Boothbay Harbor, Maine
Wiscasset, Maine

Life in the Land of Tourists
Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club gathering outside clubhouse for annual regatta, early twentieth century. Credit: Collections of the Boothbay Region Historical Society

In the late nineteenth century, Wiscasset and Boothbay Harbor had busy downtowns that provided services to local residents and businesses. Wiscasset had a grocery store, candy store, barber, hairdresser, gas station, several banks, clothing stores, doctors’ offices, and an undertaker. Today, both town centers are dominated by souvenir and gift shops, restaurants and antiques dealers, all catering to summer visitors. Over the course of the twentieth century, Wiscasset and Boothbay Harbor, Maine, came to depend on a single season of tourism each year for their economic survival.

This project explored the changes affecting those towns and the people who reside there. Through oral histories from longtime residents and business owners, and the collection of images, objects, and ephemera, staff from Historic New England and the Boothbay Region Historical Society documented the change in character of these two mid-coast Maine towns.

Troy Chapman, who operates Boothbay Harbor's Harborage Inn with his wife Emery, spoke with Betsy Spekke, a Historic New England guide, about the evolution of the tourism industry in the community.

For more information, please e-mail community engagement at Historic New England.


Castle Tucker
Boothbay Regional Historical Society

Life in the Land of Tourists