Images taken century ago in Washington County show vibrant, busy towns

In this circa 1910 photograph, children pose near the American Can Company plant built in Lubec village after its North Lubec factory burned. The first mechanized &quottin" can manufacturer in Lubec, it soon erected a much larger building, and those shown here became warehouses. In a few decades the company was turning out 350 million cans a year. Lubec and Eastport canneries employed many children, attracting the attention of well-known documentary photographer and social reformer Lewis Hine. In August 1911 he photographed young workers, many under the age of 12, cutting and packing fish in local canneries.
Information provided by Ronald Pesha
In this circa 1910 photograph, children pose near the American Can Company plant built in Lubec village after its North Lubec factory burned. The first mechanized "tin" can manufacturer in Lubec, it soon erected a much larger building, and those shown here became warehouses. In a few decades the company was turning out 350 million cans a year. Lubec and Eastport canneries employed many children, attracting the attention of well-known documentary photographer and social reformer Lewis Hine. In August 1911 he photographed young workers, many under the age of 12, cutting and packing fish in local canneries.
Posted March 03, 2013, at 3:22 p.m.
The Willows was an old home adjacent to the Wharf Road. Built in 1785 by Dr. Ebenezer Handy, it was considered the oldest home in Steuben before it was destroyed by fire. Early owners of the home were Alonzo and Ellen (Moore) Smith.  The date of this picture, based on the Model T Ford, is 1909 or 1910. The driver is Arthur Morris; in the front seat is Maurice Whitten and in the back seat, Ruth, Marion and Norma Davis and Janet Kelley, who was 2 years old. The house fell into disrepair and was destroyed in a controlled burn by the newly formed Steuben Fire Department at the Steuben Town Picnic and Fourth of July celebration in 1971.
Caption written by Ed Hart
The Willows was an old home adjacent to the Wharf Road. Built in 1785 by Dr. Ebenezer Handy, it was considered the oldest home in Steuben before it was destroyed by fire. Early owners of the home were Alonzo and Ellen (Moore) Smith. The date of this picture, based on the Model T Ford, is 1909 or 1910. The driver is Arthur Morris; in the front seat is Maurice Whitten and in the back seat, Ruth, Marion and Norma Davis and Janet Kelley, who was 2 years old. The house fell into disrepair and was destroyed in a controlled burn by the newly formed Steuben Fire Department at the Steuben Town Picnic and Fourth of July celebration in 1971.
Brothers Daniel James Sawyer and Edward Mansfield Sawyer had this building constructed on Sawyer’s Square in 1896 at a cost of $2,485. It replaced their original store, which was located where the present Jonesport Marina Building is. This building housed a general store, ship chandlery, and customs office. During WWII the U. S. Navy had a dental office in the building, and the U. S. Coast Guard dispensed refrigerated goods to the people of Jonesport from here. The Worcester-Sawyer Insurance Agency occupied the building from 1932 to 1994.  In January 1936 the top two floors became the Masonic Lodge.
Caption contributed by Donald C. Woodward, President of Jonesport Historical Society
Brothers Daniel James Sawyer and Edward Mansfield Sawyer had this building constructed on Sawyer’s Square in 1896 at a cost of $2,485. It replaced their original store, which was located where the present Jonesport Marina Building is. This building housed a general store, ship chandlery, and customs office. During WWII the U. S. Navy had a dental office in the building, and the U. S. Coast Guard dispensed refrigerated goods to the people of Jonesport from here. The Worcester-Sawyer Insurance Agency occupied the building from 1932 to 1994. In January 1936 the top two floors became the Masonic Lodge.

The children stare obediently at the photographer as if they have been interrupted at play. Behind them, smoke rises from brick chimneys atop square, squat buildings. The camera is too far away to tell how the the boys and girls feel about having their picture taken.

Photographer Lewis Hines did not set up his camera in 1911 to take photos of children at leisure. Instead he captured their images as they were either on their way to or from work at one of the many sardine canneries that dotted the streets of Lubec and Eastport more than a century ago.

Hines shot the children in front of the American Can Co., the first mechanized tin can manufacturer in Lubec. His framed photograph is one of 33 taken throughout Washington County in the first half of the 20th century gathered in a traveling exhibit.

Called “Washington County Through Eastern’s Eye,” its first stop is the Cherryfield Public Library. Next month it will move to Steuben and be shown in other Down East towns throughout the year.

The pictures were gathered from the Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co. s collection of 50,000 glass plate negatives preserved by the Penobscot Marine Museum. The photos were shot to be used as postcards from 1909 through the 1950s, according to Kevin Johnson, curator and photo archivist for the collection.

“In both Washington and Aroostook counties at the time Eastern was doing business, towns often were much bigger and busier than they are now,” Johnson said Friday. “There were jobs, mills and factories. They were more vibrant in a way than they are now. When you look at these photographs, it’s almost like time has stopped.”

Washington County is the third of Maine’s 16 counties be featured in a traveling collection of photographs, according to Johnson. The first one featured Waldo County, where the Penobscot Marine Museum is located in Searsport. That show was so successful that local funds were raised to create a similar exhibit of images taken in Knox County.

Funding from the National Endowment for the Arts helped finance the Washington County exhibit. That money also will allow photographs from three more counties — Hancock, Aroostook and Cumberland — to be printed, framed and displayed in those counties, Johnson said.

Research for the exhibit was conducted by museum volunteer Liz Fitsimmons, who worked with individuals and historical societies from virtually every Washington County community to create captions for the photographs, Johnson said. Many explain what happened to the people and buildings depicted.

Ed Hart’s caption tells the story of a Steuben building known as the “Willows.”

“The ‘Willows’ was an old home adjacent to the Wharf Road,” he wrote. “Built in 1785 by Dr. Ebenezer Handy, it was considered the oldest home in Steuben before it was destroyed by fire. Early owners of the home were Alonzo and Ellen (Moore) Smith.

“The date of this picture, based on the Model T Ford, is 1909 or 1910,” he continued. “The driver is Arthur Morris; in the front seat is Maurice Whitten and in the back seat, Ruth, Marion and Norma Davis and Janet Kelley, who was [two] years old. The car is significant because it is very early for Ford. The first Model T cars were built in 1909.

“Unfortunately, the house fell into disrepair and was destroyed in a controlled burn by the newly formed Steuben Fire Department at the Steuben Town Picnic and Fourth of July celebration in 1971,” he concluded.

The contributions of the local historians such as Hart cannot be emphasized enough, according to Johnson.

“The pictures are wonderful, but the captions are what really put meat on the bone,” he said.

Johnson will give an illustrated talk on the photos at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Cherryfield Public Library, 35, Main St. The photos will be exhibited there through March 30. For information, call 546-4228. To view the entire collection online, visit http://penobscotmarinemuseum.org/eastern-illustrating-publishing-company/.

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