About the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society

Stonington Harbor

Stonington Harbor in days gone by

The Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society was formed in 1959 with the goal of collecting and preserving "historical facts, records, and relics pertaining to Deer Isle, Stonington, and adjoining communities and islands of East Penobscot Bay in the State of Maine."

The regular programs at the Society offer islanders and visitors tours of museum buildings in the summer and early fall, as well as archives that are accessible year-round.  Our archival records are used by islanders researching their families and people seeking detailed histories about their homes.   We are also visited by writers and researchers from away, including Ken Burns, the well-known documentarian.  Mr. Burns came here to research his monumental work, The Civil War, which includes details of soldiers from Deer Isle found in our archives.

The historic Sellers House is carefully maintained to show 19th century life on our island.  The Marine Hall building on our campus features an exhibit on Deer Isle’s extraordinary involvement in the America’s Cup races.  One school project—and we work closely to bring history to the island’s youth—involved a class researching the Deer Isle sailors recruited to serve as the crew for the victorious America’s cup races during the late 1890s.   Through this school project, many students learned that they were direct descendants of the sailors, and their research project led them to be invited to the America’s Cup trials in Spain. 

Our exhibit barn includes a still-operational 1882 printing press; Native American artifacts curated by expert and honorary chair of this appeal, Dr. William Haviland; a fisheries exhibit that focuses on the first commercial fishing fleets on the island in the 1880s, as well as the once prosperous fish factory in Stonington.  The recently completed Boat Shed contains a full-sized 1946 Lobster boat that was one of the last wooden boats built at Billings Diesel and Marine.  The Boat Shed also now hosts the Fishermen’s Hall of Fame, with photographs of the members on display.

We also participate in the Blue Hill peninsula’s “Touring Through Time” program and other special events that showcase live outdoor and indoor demonstrations of blacksmithing, weaving, rag-rug making, net repair, spinning, and other island skills.  We will continue to open our buildings to the public and also provide more highly popular tours guided by our experts.

The Society publishes a bi-annual newsletter and sponsors several summer events, which are announced in local newspapers as well as on the Calendar page of this website.

Please take the time to read through these pages, noting that many offer sub-pages with photographs.  The Newsletter pages include the most recent issues.

Thank you for your interest in the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society!

Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society ✦ P O Box 652 ✦ Deer Isle,  ME  04627 ✦ 207-348-6400