George M. Cohan tried out productions out at the island theaters before taking them to Broadway. Jean Stapleton's first professional appearance in the summer of 1941 was in a production at Greenwood Garden. Martin Landau made his professional stage debut in a 1951 production of “Detective Story” at Greenwood Garden and was a resident cast member for several seasons.
Many island residents have small electric cars which are only for island use. Here are some that Grenville and I saw on the island – we really liked the CA plates!
Peaks Island is located in Casco Bay and is part of the city of Portland, Maine. It is roughly 2 miles long and 1 mile wide (at its widest) and about 3 miles from downtown Portland. Peaks is the most populous island in Casco Bay. In the late 19th century, the island was a popular summer tourist destination, known as the Coney Island of Maine and was home to hotels, cottages, theaters, and amusement parks. The island was later an important WW II outpost.
Hollywood film director John Ford, born in Portland as John Martin Feeney, was called “The Mayor of Peaks Island” because of his great fondness for the island. He vacationed there from boyhood through the early 1960s, worked as a deckhand on the Casco Bay Lines ferries and as an usher at the Gem Theater.
Besides the Gem, which featured famous performers including the Barrymore family, the island had two other summer theaters, The Pavilion, which opened in 1887 was said to be the first summer theater in the country. The Greenwood Garden Amusement Park sported the Greenwood Garden Playhouse.
Over the years, most of the island’s hotels were lost to fires. The Gem Theater burned in 1934; 17 buildings burned to the ground in June 1936, including the new Union House Hotel.
During World War II, the island was home to a large military defense installation. The largest structure, Battery Steele housed two 16 inch guns and when first tested, shattered windows on the opposite side of the island.
Peaks Island is the most populated island in Casco Bay, with a winter population of approximately 850. During summer months, the population peaks to almost 5,000. Most residents commute daily to jobs in Portland as do middle and senior high school students.
We took the Casco Bay ferry from Portland for our day trip to Peaks.
Norwegian Spirit, a Norwegian Cruise Lines ship had just arrived travelling from Boston. (Lois these photos are for you.)
And, Possum this post was for you too.