Community sentiment towards Southport traditions and land preservation:
“Those lucky enough to make their home on Southport Island, as well as all of us who are familiar with the town, understand why it epitomizes an idyllic small coastal Maine town where time has stood still, in a good way. People live together, play together, work together, raise their families together, help one another and take pride in preserving small town values. The entire Boothbay region shares many of these special qualities; Southport leads the way.” Mary Brewer, Editor Emerita, Boothbay Register, March 11, 2014,
“Many longtime Boothbay region residents as well as relative newcomers have formed a mutual admiration society when it comes to Southport Island, the smallest community on the peninsula. It’s envied and admired for many reasons. First of all, it’s a shining example of what all of us picture as an ideal small town. It’s a close-knit community of less than 700 residents, which still supports a school of its own with less than 30 students who complete sixth grade before moving into the larger school system in Boothbay Harbor. Parents are very much involved in the school and in the education of their children.” Mary Brewer, Editor Emerita, Boothbay Register, March 11, 2014
As the Town of Southport considered purchasing the Gardner Estate Boothbay Register staff reporter, Ben Buckley (Boothbay Register, July 19, 2013) visited Hendricks Head Beach and captured the following sentiments of folks he spoke with:
“When Southport residents, both seasonal and permanent, chose to talk, the sentiment was usually the same: Southport isn’t Southport without Hendricks Head.”
“This is my most sacred place on the planet,” Selectman Smith Climo said. “There are some places that are as beautiful, but there’s nowhere more beautiful.”
“I see a lot of white and gray hair in this room,” resident Tom Shannon said. “This needs to be about the children. In addition to being a recreational spot, the beach weaves into what makes Southport special. It’s part of the fabric; the culture is the beach,” he said. “It’s going into the (Southport) General Store, whether you need to or not, then going to the beach. That’s really darn special, and we owe it to future generations of Southporters, so they can enjoy that treasure.”
Anne Grimes said “The time for the town to claim the beach was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You will never get another chance,” she said. “It does draw people to Southport; it shows off our friendly community.”
When Tom Groening, Editor of the Island Institute’s publication Working Waterfront, heard about Land for Southport’s Future at a recent statewide conference, he came here to discuss the fate of the Gardner property. He admitted to me that Hendricks Head Beach is among his favorite places on the Maine Coast, and so our community’s effort to acquire the Ruth Gardner property as a place for art and science education is of special interest to him.
Like all of us, Tom does not want “Ruth’s House” to remain empty or be sold for private development when it can be a valuable community-owned asset. What better opportunity will we ever have to preserve Ruth’s legacy and provide an historically significant space that will inspire fellowship, creativity and learning, create educational opportunities, and encourage children and adults alike to celebrate the unique character of our community?
(Rachel Carson’s Grand-nephew, adopted son):
I started coming to Southport Island in 1952 with my Aunt, marine biologist and conservationist, Rachel Carson. We summered overlooking the Sheepscot River, in her cottage on Salt Pond Road just off of Dog Fish Head, on the west side of Southport Island, Maine. When I was old enough, I was given full run of the neighborhood and I soon started exploring the numerous tidal pools and wooded trails. This began a life-long love of the natural world around me.
This eclectic summer community, comprised of the most remarkable cross-section of natives and summer people, soon became a second home to me. Looking back at the 60 plus years that I have spent here, one thing really strikes a chord with me, that there is an urgent need to preserve land on this very precious island before it becomes over developed.
Land for Southport’s Future understands this need and also recognizes that the potential, for hosting educational and cultural enrichment opportunities at “Ruth’s House,” is endless.
Please save Ruth’s House now while you can, because once it’s sold to a private buyer it’s gone, and that’s it.
Email from Meredith (Mac) MacKusick
Nancy…just a note to express my appreciation for all the time and effort that you have expended to bring about the purchase of Ruth Gardner’s property at “Front Beach.“
Jeanette and I made a contribution to “Land for Southport’s Future” because we believe that preserving Ruth’s house as a gathering place for residents and visiting artists is a wonderful way of recognizing her contribution as map maker, artist, and involved member of the Southport community. As you know, Ruth spent a lot of time over the years, singing and playing piano and recorders with the MacKusick wives and my Aunt Jean. A good time was had by all.
I wish you every success with your continued fund raising activity and hope that you are able to engage more Southporter’s to support this worthwhile cause. All of us on will benefit from the preservation of this historic property and the knowledge that Ruth’s legacy will live on.
All the best,
“Mac” to you