Photo Courtesy of Edward French, The Quoddy Tides
The downtown historic district is home to many of the city’s cultural institutions, with the Tides Institute & Museum of Art holding pride-of-place at the triangular Bank Square.
The institute also owns two downtown storefronts as its StudioWorks site, and four other buildings within the central city district for arts and cultural activities. The former bank building houses the institute’s major art collections, with exhibitions showcasing holdings as well as traveling exhibits. The institute’s StudioWorks offers artist-in-residence programs, workshops, artist talks and shows and more. The newest building, the Free Will North Church, located just up the hill, has been used for baroque concerts because of the church’s fine acoustics and multi-media exhibits that utilize the vaulted ceiling and beautiful space.
The Border Historical Society owns a downtown building that houses a working model of the Quoddy Dam Project, a fascinating tidal power project from the 1920s that was never finished, but that would have had a profound impact on the surrounding bays. The historical society also owns two other sites of historical interest, the Barracks Museum and the Fort Sullivan powder magazine from the War of 1812 when Eastport was occupied by the British.
The Peavey Memorial Library sits downtown, is open year-round seven-days a week, and offers free Wi-Fi, computers, historical archives, newspapers and magazines, and a children’s wing.
The library's book selection, while constrained by the library’s size, is constantly renewed with fresh offerings by the dedicated staff. The library participates in many statewide library resource programs with inter-library loan just one of the many services available. Our telecommuters point to the library as one of their favorite resources.
Downtown is home to restaurants, galleries and gift shops, and a motel.
Some are open year-round, others are open for three-seasons. Businesses that stay open year-round include the hardware store, marine goods store, offices for the newspaper, water district and an attorney, some eateries including a coffee shop and bakery, and the motel. Additional lodging choices are found around the island, from B&Bs to RV campsites and shorefront cabins. Many vacation rental options exist.
Just up from the downtown is the former church that houses the Eastport Arts Center. A thriving resource with hundreds of residents of all ages involved in volunteer projects and programs, the arts center is cited by our telecommuters as one of the cultural attractions they could not do without. From the Passamaquoddy Bay Symphony Orchestra to the Northern Lights Film Society, the many constituent programs allow for children, adults and elders to gather and participate in and enjoy the results of different types of artistic expression.
The working waterfront at the breakwater downtown means early fishing with diesel engines starting up at the break of dawn. Fishing gear can have some stink to it. Eastporters love their working waterfront and work hard to protect it as a resource. On the southwest side of the island is the Estes Head port where large cargo ships come and go. With Eastport having the deepest harbor on the eastern seaboard, the Eastport Port Authority ensures an active port with exports and imports including such products as wood pulp, aggregate, road salt, pregnant cows (and the cowboys that accompany them), yachts and more. Freighters are one of the bay’s occasional viewing attractions, with the port’s tugboats and pilot boat setting out to help with navigation. Tractor trailer trucks head into and out of the city at regular intervals, with most of the drivers hailing from local communities. Noise from the port can sometimes be heard all over the island depending on the prevailing wind. So too can a dog be heard barking from across the bay if the wind is just right. It’s a part of the working waterfront aesthetic that keeps Eastport real.
Eastporters love their food, and the R&M IGA, the summer farmers’ market and the Eat Local Eastport cooperative meet a variety of needs.
Along with the post office downtown, the IGA is a place where you may go to shop, but you’ll more than likely need to allocate extra time to stop and chat with neighbors and friends. The IGA prides itself on its offerings, and if it doesn’t carry what you need, ask to see if it can be carried for you. Right across from the IGA is the historical site of Raye’s Mustard Mill, with a selection of award-winning stone-ground mustard and other goodies. And right around the corner, heading out of town is a Family Dollar store for those odds and ends like wrapping paper or packing tape. Heading out of town is the Baycity Garage and gas station, one of a number of vehicle repair and maintenance service centers in the region.
The Eastport Family Pharmacy is conveniently located in the central district and just a skip away from the Eastport Health Care Center on Boynton Street. The pharmacy offers easy phone-in service as well as delivery for those who cannot make store hours. The clinic offers full family health care services, including dental, and participates with the school system on educational projects.
The city itself has a number of programs of use to residents, including recycling. Newcomers to the city are encouraged to visit the city’s website to familiarize themselves with dog license information, trash pick-up services, how the sewer bill works, the recycling and special e-waste collections, as well as learn about the city council, boards and committees and economic development programs. The city code enforcement officer and assessor can be of great assistance in helping new or prospective residents look up real estate tax maps, go over building codes and necessary permits and more.