"Long known as the 'City of Ships,' Bath, Maine, finds its soul
and identity in shipbuilding. From its architecture and cultural
offerings to its urban downtown, Bath's shipbuilding roots define
its character," states a Bath, Maine tourism website. The quote
might make you think that Bath is only about building ships for
commerce and war. Through history it became much more. It is now a
city of restored old buildings that house art galleries, shops,
businesses and a little ice cream shop that makes great lobster
rolls as well as many flavors of ice cream and gelato. It has
restored itself in an effort to bring vacationers there.
The first inhabitants were Abenaki Indians, who called it
Sagadahoc, meaning "mouth of big river." The first settlement
by Europeans was about 1605, when Samuel de Champlain tried to
start a colony there. It failed due to the lack of leadership and
the harsh weather. The colonists built the first oceangoing vessel
constructed by English shipwrights in the New World, and sailed
back to England.
The next settlement was about 1660 and was named after Bath,
England. Industries developed in the city, including the
manufacture of lumber, iron, and brass, with trade in ice and coal.
They turned to shipbuilding. Roughly 5,000 vessels have been made
and launched in the area. Wooden and steel vessels, mostly warships
for the U.S. Navy, have been built there. During World War II, they
launched a new ship every 17 days.
Downtown Bath is a small portion of the City's total area of
nine square miles. An easy 15-minute walk is along Front Street
from the Patten Free Library to the Customs House. The buildings
and sidewalks are largely made of brick and give the feeling that
you are walking in a town in the 1700's. The Markings Gallery has
all Maine art including beautiful clay pottery, jewelry,
multi-level bird houses of natural materials, glass, felted wool
mermaids, whimsical puppets, snowmen, and felted hats. You can see
their products at MarkingsGallery.com.
Around the corner is the Centre Street Arts Gallery, with
wonderful paintings of Puffins, colorful landscapes in watercolor,
acrylic, oil, pastel, pencil/charcoal, etching, monotype, mixed
media, sculptures, and more. They feature rotating member
exhibitions, guest artist and group exhibitions, classes and
workshops by nationally known artists, life and figure drawing,
open studio sessions, demonstrations and lectures. Follow their
blog at centrestartsgallery.blogspot.com. Their email is
The last gallery I visited was the "Chocolate Church Arts
Center" in a side building of the Church, which is painted the
color of milk chocolate. It is a regional arts center for mid-coast
Maine, featuring live music, theatre, and visual arts year round.
The exhibit featured at the gallery was called "The Sea Around Us,"
and the paintings and stained glass constructions were very special
For more info about activities and programs by the KAG go to