Holding our best-loved places in trust
The National Trust for Historic Preservation announced its 2019 list of the “11 Most Endangered Historic Places” this week. Fortunately there were no sites in Maine on the list and of the 300 sites brought into the national spotlight since 1988 when the Trust started identifying them, just three places in Maine were named. (And one of those was a bridge between Maine and New Hampshire.)
To us, that suggests two thoughts. One is the time-honored, if wry, Maine maxim: ”Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” Yankee practicality [sometimes] says “Why build a new one when we have a perfectly serviceable, sturdy, Maine-built building right here?’ And it’s true that New England craftsmanship has kept us and our hand-builts going for generations. “Bath Built” is the Navy’s gold standard for surface ships that carry our sailors in harm’s way.
Which leads directly to the other thought: that we care about our history in Maine, and the roots that go back to at least 1729 in Boothbay and even farther at colonial outposts like fort at Pemaquid, to say nothing of the inherited knowledge of river and forest among the Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Mi’kmaq and Maliseet. We Mainers have the reputation for knowing where we’re going because we know where we’ve been. And that certainly applies to those more ephemeral thoughts of the places in our personal family geographies that are the sites of our own histories.