Living Off Maine’s Coast Part One: Vinalhaven

Updated 12 months ago

As president of the Island Institute in Rockland, Rob Snyder knows all about island living.

“The remarkable thing about the Maine coast is, it’s found itself in the middle of the global real estate market, and so you see a place here where people are increasingly attracted, for lots of reasons. Not only is the environment stunning, but the culture is really remarkable, too,” said Snyder.

The non-profit just celebrated thirty years of providing support for 15 island communities.

“It’s pretty remarkable that thirty years later, you know, we still work hard to maintain the trust of islander coastal residents and leaders. We wouldn’t be here without all of their efforts to bring us into their communities, and to work with them to fulfill their visions for what’s going to make their communities great in the future,” said Snyder.

One community that has a bright future is the town of Vinalhaven. The beauty begins during the hour and fifteen minute ferry ride. Looking back on Maine’s mid-coast is a view worth seeing. The first glimpse of Vinalhaven doesn’t happen until right before arriving.

“It’s indescribably beautiful, from almost any vantage,” said Crossman.

With about 1,500 year round residents, Vinalhaven is the largest island community in the state, but a small town by most standards.

Philip Crossman has lived here just about his entire life. He owns the Tidewater Motel and is secretary for the Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a wonderful place to live. After I left and went into the service, I didn’t spend much time out in the real world before I realized I’d rather be back here again,” said Crossman.

He’s seen many changes over the years.

“When I was a kid, this was a really thriving retail environment, and virtually all of it is gone now,” said Crossman.

The focus is on lobstering now. Many will tell you when the lobstering is good, so is everything else, and the island has a lot to offer.

“Restaurants, gift shops, galleries, the groceries,” said Crossman.

“The natural beauty, it’s incredible, and even though there’ve been changes in the near 50 years I’ve been around, they don’t feel that significant to me. It’s fragile. Our live here is fragile, but there’s awareness,” said Kris Davidson.

Davidson grew up here. As owner of Davidson Realty, she wants to share with others why she loves this place so much.

“I love the people. I love the community. I love working here. It’s safe. It’s a wonderful place for kids to grow up. I grew up playing in the woods. I grew up with so much freedom,” said Davidson.

With a school like this, growing up seems pretty great.

“It’s really fun, because we have such a small class and we get to really socialize a lot, and I really like it here,” said Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes, eighth grade.

There are 175 students, from pre-k to high school.

“You know all the other students, you know the faculty, I mean, you just about everyone,” said Everett Webster, a junior at the school.

“We know them before they get to us. We know their strengths and weaknesses, so we can build on that right away,” said Robb Warren, ┬áprincipal.

Students get an experience that principal Robb Warren says sets them up for success.

“I want to go away for college. Maybe out of state, but try something with maybe a bigger school, just to broaden my horizon a little,” said Ellie Reidy, senior.

On the other side of the spectrum, the community prides itself on their elder care.

“The home here was founded by Ivan Calderwood, actually donated the property to get the home started. It was his mission, and his vision, to keep islanders on the island as long as possible. By keeping people on the island a little bit more, and having a place to go, there health is better, socialization is better, and for the families, it’s that much easier for them to visit,” said Neal Martin, director of the Ivan Calderwood Home.

With an ambulance, a fire department, medical center, dentist, multiple clubs and organizations, this island town seems to have life off Maine’s coast figured out.

“Maybe that is something about island people, that they’ve learned how to, you know, create this great community of giving, and activity, because nobody’s going to do it for them, right,” said Marjorie Stratton, town manager.

 


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