Friday, October 8, 2010

Broiler Capital of the World?

Another who knew tidbit, Belfast, Maine once called itself the “Broiler capital of the world.”

Belfast, the county seat of Waldo, is located at the mouth of thesteeple-leaves2 Passagassawakeag River on Penobscot Bay. Settled by Scots-Irish families from Londonderry, New Hampshire in 1770, it was named after the Northern Irish city of the same name after a coin toss. 

Hundreds of wooden sailing ships were built in local shipyards. During the 19th century and most Belfast men worked in maritime trades. The Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad (see Grenville’s post) connected Belfast to the Maine Central Railroad at Burnham Junction.

belfast shoe factoryIn the early 20th century, the city’s prosperity, built on shipbuilding and commerce was fading. A four-story shoe factory once dominated the industrial area.

Ironically, in the 19th century, Belfast, Ireland union-street-bar-photohad a rambling 3-story century shoe factory . In 2003, it was converted to the Union Street Bar and restaurant .


By 1948, Maplewood Poultry Co. and Penobscot Poultry were big businesses in the area. Chicken houses dotted the landscape throughout Waldo County. Maine ranked 10th nationally in broiler processing. By 1979, the state’s last two poultry processors, Maplewood Poultry Company and Penobscot Poultry, were in Belfast. Both closed by the end of the decade.

Chickens left and artists entered. Former downtown stores were replaced with galleries and gift stores. Credit card company MBNA moved to the city in the 1990s, purchased and razed the abandoned Penobscot Poultry processing plant on the waterfront, and converted the site into a city park.

Belfast has an old-time Main Street that runs from the post office coburn shoes (17)down to the harbor. And, Here’s where you will find America’s oldest shoe store – Colburn Shoe Store, established in 1832, run by the same family, and still open for business.

coburn shoes (18) coburn collage There’s a wealth of antique architecture in the downtown area.

old bldgs collage1

Shown below are several banks, a Masonic hall, and the Post office (formerly a Customs building).

buildings collage WAIT, is that an elephant on the movie theatre roof?

theatre colonial (1)YES, that’s Hawthorne atop the landmark Colonial Theatre roof. The Colonial Theatre has been a Belfast fixture since 1912, opening on the day the Titanic set sail.  theatre colonialHawthorne and a smaller statue, Baby Hawthorne were outside Perry’s Nut House, a local Rte 1 roadside attraction which was   liquidated in 1997. The statues were rescued by the Colonial Theatre owners. Hawthorne took up residence on the roof; Baby Hawthorne is in the lower lobby. The theatre was closed the afternoon we visited so no peeks inside.

downtown collageNo Belfast visit would be complete without stopping at Renys – A Maine Adventure. Locals claim that “If Renys doesn't have it, I don't need it!”  Reny’s, a chainrenys belfast ME (2) of Maine discount stores, has been a Maine shopping tradition since 1949 when Robert H. Renys opened the first store in Damariscotta. There are now 14 stores.


Belfast harbor is a great place to visit whether by boat or just by a walk along the dock. Various types of sailing

belfast boat collage1

It’s also a great place to enjoy the colors of autumn.

foliage collage


Lois Evensen said...

It's great fun to travel with you and read about the history of the places you visit. I especially like the harbor and tree color shots, too.


Montanagirl said...

Interesting post! I like all the photos, but that first one has such great composition - and the last one has such beautiful fall colors.

OldBikeRider said...

I agree with the others, all your posts are a pleasure as I get to travel without the hours of car riding and look at all the money I save! Thanks for taking the time to write and picture this adventure.

Anonymous said...

I love reading about towns history! It´s so interesting to see how things has changed during the decades.

In my old home town Gothenburg every one thought the place would die with the ship yards, but it´s still there live and kicking :-)

Have a great day now!

grammie g said...

Hi Bernice...Well first off my daughter lived there for 18 years before moving to northern Maine so I know the area well. : }
Yes... Reny's a must I have been in that very one many times.
Very quaint town!! Glad you enjoyed!!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Lois, it's been fun travelling with you as well. Glad you have been enjoying the town histories. The harbor was a great place to photograph.

Hi Mona, the church steeple in the trees was a favorite of mine as well. And getting a break with a sunny day really made the fall colors show off beautifully. Thanks for the visit.

Old Bike Rider, glad you dropped in and thanks for the comments. We're having fun sharing our adventures too. And if you want to donate some of that money for gas, that's OK with us!

Christer, so many of these Maine towns have a hsitory connected with shipbuilding as we are visiting many of the coastal small towns. When that industry ended, many had to re-invent themselves and tourism has helped them survive. Thanks for stopping by today.

Welcome Grammie G, thanks for stopping in and for the comment. We found Reny's to be a very interesting place and plan to visit the one in Bath, Maine next week as that city is our next destination. Please stop in anytime as we will be again posting entries as our travels go on.

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