A brief History of Camden and Mountain Arrow
Camden Maine is the quintessential coastal Maine village. Set at the foot of the wooded Camden Hills on a picturesque harbor that no Hollywood movie set could improve, the coastal town of Camden has a long, rich and celebrated history.
Camden was first discovered in 1605 by Captain George Weymouth of the Archangel who first sighted the Camden Hills on his voyage to midcoast Maine. He sailed up Penobscot Bay and anchored on June 12, 1605 not far from the land "abreast the mountains since called Penobscot Hills" (Camden Hills). In 1614, Captain John Smith described the Camden Hills as "the high mountains of Penobscot, against whose feet doth beat the sea". However, it was not until 1769 that the first settlers arrived. At that time, the area was known as part of the "Megunticook Plantation", from an Indian name meaning "great sea swells." In 1769 James Richards, the first settler built his log cabin but it was not until after the American Revolution in 1791 that the town was named for Charles Pratt, first Earl of Camden. Pratt was a judge and nobleman who sympathized with the colonists during the Revolution.
During Camden's first 100 years the town had a steady growth in population and a prosperous economy. The 1870 census recorded a population of 4512 and a valuation of $1,497,631. Numerous industries supported the population including shipbuilding, an anchor factory and the lime industry. The latter was located in what today is known as Rockport but was then called Goose River.
Goose River separated from Camden in 1891 and became the town of Rockport. This separation not only deprived Camden of three-quarters of the town's territory and half of the population but also the profitable lime and ice harvesting industries.
In 1892 a fire destroyed nearly all of Camden's business district. However, Camden citizens quickly rebuilt the downtown area using brick instead of wood, thus leaving a legacy of permanence and grace that exists to this day.
As the 19th century came to an end, Camden was very much a shipbuilding town with the H.M. Bean Yard launching the largest four-masted schooner and the first six-master ever built-the George W. Wells. Several woolen mills along the Megunticook River prospered well into the 20th century. The Knox Woolen Company. made the world's first endless paper-making felt and was Camden's largest employer.
The turn of the century brought a new era to Camden as its natural beauty began to attract some of the wealthiest families in the country. These families built large summer "cottages" to rival those in Bar Harbor. Families such as Curtis, Bok, Keep, Gribbel, Dillingham and Borland not only built beautiful estates but their generosity to the community resulted in the elegant public library and Amphitheatre, Harbor Park, the Village Green, the Camden Yacht Club and the Camden Opera House. Magnificent private yachts such as Cyrus Curtis' Lyndonia filled the harbor.
Yachting continued throughout the 20th century with the unique HAJ Boat racing fleet at the Yacht Club with the younger sailors in their turnabouts. In the 1940's the cruise schooner business was started by Captain Frank Swift and the windjammer fleet continues to this day.
Music and cultural interests flourished with the establishment of the internationally renowned Summer Harp Colony founded by Carlos Salzedo and the founding of Bay Chamber Concerts. Theatre productions at the Opera House and Shakespeare in the Amphitheatre enriched the lives of residents and summer visitors. Edna St. Vincent Millay, who grew up in Camden, achieved world-wide recognition for her poetry and won the Pulitzer Prize. The movies came to Camden in 1957 when the controversial film, Peyton Place, was filmed here. Hollywood used the Camden area for the locale of many more movies in later years.
Throughout the 20th century Camden became both a resort town and a retirement community. Because of its natural beauty-mountains, lakes and ocean,-- many summer visitors came to enjoy this area. In 1965 a road was built up to the top of Mt. Battie through the Camden Hills State Park enabling thousands of people to enjoy an expansive view of Penobscot Bay as well as Megunticook Lake.
During the last half of the 20th century, Camden's economy thrived due to the tourist industry, electronics industry, tannery, woolen mills and boat yards. In the 1990's, MBNA, one of the nation's largest credit card companies moved into the former Knox Woolen Mill buildings. Not only were the buildings beautifully restored but hundreds of jobs were available to the young people of the area.
As Camden entered the 21st century, it has succeeded in preserving its natural beauty, has a strong economy, provides diverse educational and cultural opportunities and fosters a strong sense of community for its residents.
Today, Camden vies with Kennebunkport and Bar Harbor as one of the most popular tourist destinations in Maine. The elaborate mansions of the well-to-do still dominate the shady side streets (many have been converted into bed-and-breakfasts), and the continued presence of old-money New Englanders has given Camden a grace and sophistication that eludes most of Maine's other coastal towns. (Excerpt from the Camden Public Library Website)
The history of the Mountain Arrow property starts in the late 1700's when Brigadier Waldoboro gave the land situated at the base of the Camden Hills to his daughter Lucy upon her marriage to General Henry Knox. In 1798 Henry and Lucy Knox then transferred the property to Benjamin Cushing who then sold to the Adams family who lived in 42 High Street which is known as the Adams Homestead (currently resided in by John and Mary O'Connor). There is evidence that the Adams family farmed the property by using the Rockbrook Stream and the large fields for their animals. The large stream today flows through the remaining parts of a stone bridge that served to dam the water at the bridge crossing Rockbrook Stream for watering the animals.
The Adams family then sold 48+/- acres of the land and a caretaker's cottage (38 High Street) to Appleton Hilyard in 1898 where he built Mountain Arrow as a summer retreat for his family. The property consisted of Mountain Arrow main house (with 9 servants), the caretaker's cottage at 38 High Street, a tennis court, and a fish hatchery for raising trout frye. The property was passed down between family members until Appleton Seaverns (grandson) decided that it was time to spend his last summer of 94 years in the Mountain Arrow house in 2006. The property was then transferred in the fall of 2006 to Mountain Arrow LLC, The owner then decided to move the house from its original location to a spot up the hill and across Rockbrook Stream where it resides today.