News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, November 12, 2020
Donors support Castine Historical Society acquisitions

Historic house

A painting from the late 1800s of the Captain and Margaret Brown House.

Photo courtesy of Castine Historical Society

Through financial and collection donations over the past month, the Historical Society has acquired three new items for the permanent collection, the Society announced in a news release. These new items tell unique stories of life in 19th century Castine.

The Historical Society recently purchased a painting that depicts the Castine home of Captain Rowland and Margaret Brown. The unsigned painting dates from the late 1800s. The home still stands today at the corner of Main and Court streets.

Captain Brown (1840-1920) was a significant figure in Castine history. In 1855, at the age of 14, he made his first fishing voyage to the Grand Banks. By the time he served as a U.S. Navy officer in the Civil War he was a master ship captain. After the war, he continued to captain merchant marine vessels to South America, China, Japan, and Java.

Thanks to additional donations from supporters, the Historical Society purchased a ledger book from the cooperage of Thomas Thombs (1779-1859) that covers the period from 1836 to 1850. The ledger book documents the work of a local cooper, a person who makes barrels. Barrels were an essential component in maritime shipping as items would be packed in them for transport. Thombs and his wife Mary moved to Castine in the late 1820s and bought property on Water Street with access to Sea Street in the area of the Steamboat Wharf for his shop and home.

A recent donation of a Currier and Ives print of the steamer Penobscot by Leila and Jim Day also gives us a window on 19th century life in Castine. Built in 1882 at East Boston, the Penobscot was the biggest and most sumptuous of the Boston-Bangor liners even boasting electric lights. Steamers were familiar sights in Castine Harbor as they brought visitors to and from the town because traveling by road was difficult.

The Castine Historical Society opens a window into Castine’s extraordinary past through preserving local history and hosting changing exhibitions, lectures, town walking tours, house and garden tours, and historic reenactments. The Historical Society’s exhibits at 17 School Street are closed for the season. Walking tours of Castine are being offered by appointment with 48-hour notice. The Grindle House offices, collection storage, and research library at 13 School Street are also closed to researchers at this time; however, staff are available via phone or email. To learn more visit or call 326-4118.