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Fine Day Out
by Alice Wilkinson — Special to The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert
Thursday, 27 July
view of Cherryfield includes the Route 1 bridge.—PHOTO BY ALICE WILKINSON
Cherryfield’s 75-acre historic district, which encompasses the downtown,
can sneak up on you. There you are, driving around, looking at the river,
when you notice that there is a wonderful house over there. Then you spot
another, and another.
There’s something wonderful about old houses. Sometimes the upper
part of a house, particularly a
The houses have porches, columns, balconies, ornate frames over the windows,
fancy moldings. At least two have matching barns, noticeable because of
their color. One, a Queen Anne house in a pastel shade of pink, has a pink
barn. The other, the Nash House, a huge maroon building that looks like a
private school, has a barn the same color.
Although the current
obsessively large houses lack charm, these Victorian and Edwardian buildings,
some of which are very large and ostentatious, embody a certain joy in their
very outrageousness. They’re so over-the-top, they are beyond taste.
Looking at the buildings, it appears that Cherryfield is much like it was in
the 19th century, but there have been significant changes. In the 1800s, the
navigable head of the
E.A. Gutwill founded a furniture factory in Cherryfield, which did wood
turning, made stairwells, mantels and moldings. Bicycles were repaired and sold
at the same site. The building
burned down on July 16, 1921, in the
same fire that destroyed a planing mill, which had been
founded by George Washington Wingate in 1856.
There was also a foundry and even an electric light company with 600 lights
in use and four miles of string wire. (The history is courtesy of Phil
Cherryfield is now home to Cherryfield Food and Wyman’s Blueberries.
Still, “Blueberry Capital of the World” doesn’t exactly say it all.
Sure, once you drive on 193 north out of Cherryfield what seems like the
world’s largest blueberry barren stretch
out all around you, but Cherryfield might also be the “Second Empire/Mansard
Roof Capital of the world” — excepting some places like Paris.
Cherryfield is a town now enlivened by one grocery store and a pizza place,
with a population of around 1,200. Fifty-two buildings from the 19th century
remain intact. And original. Unlike
The best way to see the village is on foot. Park on the east side of
You could stop at the antique shop across the street. On the other side
of the river are more houses. The best way to see them is to drive around,
get a feel for what you’re looking for, and then park and walk.
There are a couple of different ways to go to Cherryfield from Ellsworth.
The longest is right along Route 1and 1A, over the non-singing bridge and on to
Milbridge. After the bustle of Ellsworth, it’s surprising how quiet and
empty the road is. There are some wonderful views of
Stop at Manos Market in Hancock or the Bayside Supermarket in Milbridge to
pick up supplies for a picnic. If you can’t wait to get to Cherryfield,
go right up Route 1 and have a picnic at the picnic table by the river on the
east side of town — just turn left after the bridge.
Or you could swing through Milbridge on 1A, go over the bridge and make the
first right. There’s a public boat launch with a couple of benches and a
The third choice takes you out of Milbridge on Route 1A toward Harrington
(you might want to look at the
To get to Cherryfield, you just continue on Route 1. It’s about five miles.
Another wonderful ride is 182 out of Cherryfield, through
Both approaches to Cherryfield make what you find there more surprising.
It’s not as if there’s a gradual build-up; the landscape is pretty empty for
long stretches. It’s a good day out.