Shipyards and a dozen active wharves once stood along Castine Harbor, and at least eighteen square-rigged ships were built here. Chandleries and sailmakers on Water and Sea Streets outfitted schooners and square-riggers amidst the smell of tar and fish and wood.  Castine merchants and shipowners ran an active but high-risk business from 1820 to 1860, and many of the houses in Castine were built from the profits from world-wide voyages.

You are invited to join us in reading and discussing two books on which the current exhibit is based and to immerse yourself in this fascinating marine history. The discussions will be moderated by Jill Schoof and Alice Alston and curator Paige Lilly will also be on hand. Both books are for sale at the Castine Historical Society Gift Shop or may also be ordered online at

Authors: L.J. Webster and M.A. Noah. Published by Hobblebush Books.

June 20: We will discuss Letters Home From Sea: The Life and Letters of Solon J. Hanson, Down East Sailor, by L. J. Webster and M. A. Noah.  Hobblebush Books,  2006.

Solon Hanson of Castine, Maine worked as a cook, crew, and mate on sailing ships, became a cod fisherman, survived one of New Orleans worst hurricanes, was called as witness to a murder trial, and was close to his goal of becoming a sea captain – all by the age of 19.  Unlike most sailors of the time, he diligently wrote home about his adventures. His letters were rediscovered over a century later, and provide a rare glimpse into the daily life of 1850s Maine sailors.


Author: Richard M. Ames. Published by the Castine Historical Society.

August 15:  We will discuss Richard Ames’ book, Risky Business: A Maine Village Goes Global, 2019.

Eighteen square-rigged ships built on Castine’s waterfront in the 19th century is the focus of Richard Ames’ well-researched book, upon which the current exhibit is based.  The publication of this book was sponsored by the Castine Historical Society.