One Week in Blue Hill, Maine

Rowboat in Blue Hill Bay
A lot happens in this small place

I visited Blue Hill for the first time in 1998, years before I thought of writing about Emilie Loring, and I’ve returned a dozen times since. Emilie visited Blue Hill for the first time in 1908 and returned for forty summers. A lot happens in this small place, year after year, and it keeps me coming back.

Day One:

Success! I’ve always wanted to stop at a certain “Used Books” sign on the way to Searsport. The shopkeeper couldn’t find any Emilie Lorings on the shelves, but I spied this box on top of a tall bookcase. Her husband got it down for me, and Bingo!Emilie Loring books

On to Blue Hill, where I met Joyce and Mary for a quick tour of some Emilie-related places in Blue Hill.

Jess showed us around Holt House, home of the Blue Hill Historical Society. One of Emilie’s “flapper” dresses hangs upstairs. I won’t spoil that discovery for you, but there are a lot of Emilie-era displays inside.  (Follow them on Facebook here!)

At day’s end, I checked into Benson’s Cottage–cute, well-appointed with all of the comforts,  a perfect view…

Benson Cottage
Ah, yes, this will do!

Day Two:

I had a rare opportunity to look through the scrapbooks of Effie Ober Kline, the one-time booking agent for Emilie Loring’s father and co-founder of the Boston Ideals theater troupe which brought Gilbert & Sullivan’s “H.M.S. Pinafore” to American audiences.

I saw them at the Parker House, courtesy of the owner, John Bates, and when I walked in, recognition nerves began to tingle. I feel sure that it inspired one of the houses in Emilie’s books. Parker House is available for rent (See it on Facebook or VRBO ); stay there yourself, and see what you think!

Parker House Rental, Blue Hill, Maine
Historic Parker House, Blue Hill, Maine

Then it was off to the Blue Hill Fair, which never disappoints: fried dough, carnival games and rides, horse and tractor pulls, craft and needlework exhibits, competitions for best zucchini, best sheep, best pie…

Blue Hill Fair scene

Day Three:

All writing, all day. My reward was a crabmeat sandwich, fresh strawberries, and a glass of wine at day’s end. I love having a “writer’s cottage” and full freedom to muse, write, and create. This desk photo is definitely a “before” view! My papers create a chaos all their own.

Day Four:

My special guest at the cottage this year was Tuulikki Loring. We caught up on each other’s news on the outdoor dining patio at Effie Ober Kline’s “Barncastle,” then made plans for the next day as we enjoyed our cottage view. That’s one of my favorite things about Blue Hill–getting to be outside most of the day with a cool breeze, beautiful sights, and an ever-present feeling of excitement.

Day Five, Emilie Loring’s 152nd Birthday:

Tuulikki and I visited shops in the village, ate lunch at the town wharf, had a marvelous conversation with sculptor Jud Hartmann and his wife, and toured both sides of Blue Hill Bay. This year’s beach was shale instead of granite, and Tuulikki’s designer eye found the possibilities in it.

We had fun posing wine glasses for our toast to Emilie Loring on Facebook! (I hope you’re following; see here)  The final image posted, we repaired to the Deep Water Brew Pub for our own toast.for Emilie Loring's birthday

toast to Emilie Loring
Happy birthday, Emilie Loring!

Day Six:

The day’s pink sunrise yielded to story-gathering, my first try at “steamers” (thumbs up!), and a group toast to Emilie Loring at the Slavens. Do you recognize the Pendleton House–the place at the town wharf where we ate lunch? Emilie’s friends and family stayed there in the early years.

Pendleton House
Still there, after all these years–changed, of course, but aren’t we all?

Day Seven:

As well as I’ve gotten to know Blue Hill, I still make discoveries. Do you remember the beginning of Where Beauty Dwells, when Di Vernon is trout fishing and Mac Cameron’s hail from the bridge causes her to fall into the brook and hit her head?

He jumped from the car, gripped the rail and leaned far over to study the stream. Trout water… The answer to a fisherman’s prayer… Dollars to dimes there were wily old veterans darting or lying like dusky shadows on the bottom of that dark basin between two jutting brown rocks… Hang it all, someone had just cast into the pool he had picked for his own…

A splash!… The reel screamed… “Good for you, stout fella!” Mac shouted… His voice startled the fisherman, who slipped and, with arms describing a grotesque parabola, fell into the stream. His head struck a rock with a resounding crack…

I’ve looked for that spot–a trout stream near a rustic bridge, dark pools, mossy rocks, overhanging maples, background of pines and hemlocks. This year, with a key piece of information from Bob Slaven, I found it!

I’ll wager the railing on that bridge used to be wood. Just beyond the bridge is a trail.

“For a split second he waited, then, as the boy lay motionless, he grabbed a flask from a pocket of his car and dashed into a trail beyond the bridge–faint and almost overgrown with ferns.”

Trail marker Blue Hill

I love discoveries like this that connect Emilie’s books to a real place–and me to the same spot.

Day 8 arrived, and I had to pack up and get out onto the road again. I’m always sorry to leave Blue Hill, but this year I had a consolation: BOSTON!  I’ll tell you about that part of the trip in another post.

For now, I suggest you make your own trip to Blue Hill sooner rather than later. That will give you time to go back again!

Patti Bender, biography of Emilie Loring


10 thoughts on “One Week in Blue Hill, Maine

  1. I haven’t gone back to check the exact descriptions, but the Parker House (original) kitchen makes me think of the one in To Love and to Honor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that’s a thought. Sarah Ann Parker’s kitchen? I’m away from home — and my books — so I can’t check now. Maybe another reader?
      I’ve thought of the kitchen as like the one in Brick House/Here Comes the Sun!


    1. It felt like a coup. I hope you take the chance to try Maine. It may be great for your writing! I met an artist there, a painter, who said she struggled to complete a painting a year where she lived before. Since moving to the Maine coast, she completes nearly one painting each month. I have a dream of designing a writer’s cottage that I use part of the year and rent out to writers the rest of the time. I’ll let you know, if I make it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So happy you chose our cottage for your visit to Blue Hill this year. Thank you for sharing your unique perspective about this special town and your awesome research about an amazing woman – Emilie Loring. Let’s stay in touch. We truly enjoyed getting to know you – You are special !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So happy you chose our cottage for your visit to Blue Hill this year. Thank you for sharing your unique perspective about this special town and your awesome research about an amazing woman – Emilie Loring. Let’s stay in touch. We truly enjoyed getting to know you – You are special !

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I saw the photo of Parker House, I thought “Patricia Langston!” Could that house have been the model for one described in “What Then is Love?” I am taking a risk here since I do not have my copy on hand to verify.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I took a quick look, but I don’t think so. I was thinking of Jim Trafford’s and Prudence Schuylers’ “Brick House.” Both are so like the Parker House on the inside–but it’s not brick! I’ll keep looking…


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