Belfast in Waldo County, Maine — The American Northeast (New England)
Welcome to Belfast
The Museum in the Streets
In the spring of 1770 Belfast was settled by Scots-Irish families from Londonderry, New Hampshire. Legend has it that the name Belfast, after the Northern Ireland city, was chosen by a coin-toss. Fear of British attach led these original proprietors to abandon the settlement during the American Revolution, but they returned in the 1780s to build a vibrant, prosperous outpost that would become the market center for the outlying area.
Abundant timber, a gently sloping waterfront and proximity to varied agriculture gave rise to shipbuilding and maritime commerce, with fortunes made in both. Hundreds of wooden sailing ships were built by local shipyards and, during the 19th century, as much as 30% of the male population was employed in the maritime trades. In 1868 construction began on the Belfast and Moosehead Lake Railroad, which connected Belfast to the Maine Central Railroad at Burnham Junction. Belfast merchants sold a variety of goods, and steamship operators who provided transportation between coastal towns advertised shopping “excursions” to Belfast. Prosperous shipbulders and merchants constructed the architecturally significant houses that dominate our residential neighborhoods today. Two disastrous fires consumed much of the downtown area in 1865 and 1873, but merchants rebuilt with brick, creating
The city’s prosperity, built on shipbuilding and commerce in such unglamorous cargoes as hay, ice, apples and fertilizer, began to fade as the 20th century unfolded. A four-story shoe factory dominated the industrial area, and Belfast became a blue-collar town. By the 1950s, poultry, sardine and potato companies had set up processing plants along the waterfront. Belfast called itself the “Broiler Capital of the World” and each July thousands came to eat barbequed chiken on Broiler Day.
In 1962 Route 1, which had come straight through downtown via High Street, was rerouted around the city and across a new bridge. The rerouting was seen by some as the death knell for a once vibrant shire town, but in hindsight the bypass preserved the city’s heart and soul and in the 1980s rebirth began. Public and private investment restored some of the past luster. The arts flourished, the railroad was revived for tourist excursions, and the stately houses and commercial buildings were restored. In the early 90s USA Today named Belfast as one of America’s “culturally cool” communities. Today, Belfast is that rare combination of quiet small town with an active social and cultural life that is attractive to residents and visitors alike.
The Museum in the Streets is designed as a bi-lingual history walking tour. We have chosen French as the second language in recognition of the Franco-American community within Maine and our French speaking visitors. The text on all the panels and the map panels is in both English and French.
Erected by Belfast Historical Society and Museum, City of Belfast, the Belfast Community, MBNA Foundation, and Maine Community Foundation.
Location. 44° 25.526′ N, 69° 0.429′ W. Marker is in Belfast, Maine, in Waldo County. Marker is on Church Street east of Main Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is a large composite panel, mounted at eye-level, near the northwest corner of the historic Belfast Opera House building, facing Church Street. Marker is at or near this postal address: 111 Church Street, Belfast ME 04915, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Opera House (a few steps from this marker); Post Office Square (within shouting distance of this marker); Downtown Main Street (within shouting distance of this marker); First Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Belfast City Hall (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Main and High (about 300 feet away); The Windsor Hotel (about 400 feet away); The Silver Screen (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Belfast.
Regarding Welcome to Belfast. This marker contains a brief history of Belfast, Maine, as well as an introduction to Belfast's "Museum in the Streets" a heritage-discovery tour which features 30 panels around the city. The tour is made up of photographs and interpretive text describing historic houses, the downtown, the waterfront and a few of our best-known men and women. This panel features a large map of the city, marked with the positions of the 30 panels that comprise the walking tour.
Also see . . .
1. Museum in the Streets - Belfast.
Trains, circuses, tourists, industrial development, ship-building... all in a beautiful setting on the coast of Maine with preserved period homes in brick, granite or wood. This rich variety of architecture and the story behind it needed to be explained to the growing population and to summer visitors. (Submitted on April 10, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Belfast Walking Tours.
Our walking tours feature houses, churches and commercial structures of historic and architectural interest. All the structures are included in Belfast's Historic District, which is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. (Submitted on April 10, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
3. History of Belfast, Maine.
The territory comprising Belfast was a part of the Muscongns or Waldo patent. The first settlers here purchased their lots in 1769 at the low price of twenty-five cents an acre. A surveyor named John Mitchell seems to have been the founder of the town. The next year a company of Scotch-Irish extraction, but last from Londonderry, N H. arrived; and the place was from this time permanently inhabited. It is said some of the pioneers, on their arrival became discouraged and returned in the vessel which brought them. Among those who remained were James Miller and wife, two Sons and a daughter. (Submitted on April 10, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Roads & Vehicles • Settlements & Settlers •
Credits. This page was last revised on April 11, 2018. This page originally submitted on April 10, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 41 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 10, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.