Maine Historical Society



A Past Exhibit

Main Street, Maine – Downtown Views From the Eastern Publishing and Illustrating Company

February 12 – May 31, 2009

Postcard for show

Main Street, Fairfield, Maine, courtesy of the Penobscot Marine Museum

This enchanting exhibit captured scenes of life along Main Street in communities across the state between 1910 and 1940.  The photographs offered a remarkable record of life at a critical transition in Maine: modern life was arriving across the state—as can be seen by the cars, gas pumps, electrical lines, and other telling details captured in the photographs.  Some communities are poised to boom:  the paper industry was thriving, automobile tourism was on the rise, and the creativity and entrepreneurship of local citizens fueled many small industries.  Others have passed a zenith:  lumbering, shipbuilding, maritime, and other industries in Maine had begun a gradual decline, rendered inefficient or obsolete by changes in technology, transportation, or the nation’s geographic focus.

Main Street, Maine captured nearly 30 communities from every corner of the state: Lille, Fort Fairfield, Ripley, Belfast, Norway, Mechanic Falls, Northeast Harbor, Rockland, Bar Harbor, Brunswick, Mexico, Saco, and Kennebunk, among others. The photographs were drawn from the Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company glass plate negative collection, a storied Maine collection now owned by the Penobscot Marine Museum. The company made over 30,000 glass plate negatives between 1909 and 1947. Eastern Illustrating became the largest manufacturer of photo postcards on the East Coast, producing over a million postcards a year at its peak.

The exhibit was presented in collaboration with the Penobscot Marine Museum.

Logo Penobscot Marine Museum

Online Exhibition