The Benches of Belfast

Soon after 1759, 35 Scots-Irish proprietors from Londonderry, New Hampshire, bought a parcel of land at the mouth of the  Passagassawakeag River on Penobscot Bay that they renamed Belfast.  Two hundred fifty years of rich history later, it is a picturesque fishing village worth a day’s walk-around, and several days if you are a blogger in search of the odd or curious. 

The first odd thing I spied at the town’s only traffic light was an unusual bench. 

The second thing was another bench.

And before very many hours passed, several more.

It might be difficult to discern that these chairs are configured as fish traps.

The small plaque adjacent to the rock reads.  “Rock on Bruce’s Spring Seat.”

I learned that Belfast has more than its fair share of artistic folk.  Galleries and stores selling local crafts are the most prevalent business in Belfast.  Creativity and her twin, Eccentricity, maintain a year-round residence here. It seems every few years someone gets an idea for some uncommon creative expression.

I’ve not seen benches as an art form anywhere else.  And I applaud the grass roots quality of Belfast’s creative expression. 

OBTW, this is not a town without a sense of humor.

 You got it, right?  Water Loo >>> Public Restroom.

I am on the scent of other blog topics for Belfast.  

•The book festival next weekend is promising. 

•How a town of fewer than 7000 people supports seven bookstores is a question worth pursuing. 

•Recently, the town built a quarter-mile walking bridge across the harbor dedicated to the memory of their World War One heroic dead.

•The town was a major builder of three- and four-masted schooners.

25 Responses to The Benches of Belfast

  1. Colleen Rae says:

    I think the art benches are a superb blend of creativity and eccentricity, as you pointed out. Some are downright beautiful, some are soulful, some look uncomfortable,but worth trying out for a quick sit…
    I discovered a town south of here called South Haven, MI. They have a contest every fall where only benches can be entered. Anything that resembles one is fair game. But I’ve seen none as unusual as Belfast’s benches.

  2. Dave Bauer says:

    While the benches are original expressions by creative artists, none of them appear to offer very comfortable seating on which to while away the quiet hours in Belfast. In short, they are not chairs designed by Charles and Ray Eames.

    Thanks, Al, for directing my attention away from the tragedy in Colorado and from the scandal surrounding my alma mater at The Pennsylvania State University.

  3. David L says:

    Following you and your stories is an education. More, it’s an invitation to pack up and join in. And I’m delighted, as Bauer above, to know there is more to this country than mayhem and infighting, not to speak of the ‘mountain high’ incident that bewilders us all.

    There are people it seems, wherever you stop, that lead a sensible and fulfilling life; and it restores one’s faith in the race and the priorities we learned when growing up. Puts feet on the ground. Thank you, sir, for that.

  4. Vickie says:

    Please say hello to Creativity and her sister, Eccentricity, for me and ask them to visit me whenever they can. Thanks for sharing the fun photos.

    Vickie

  5. L says:

    Great to have you back.

  6. MaryAnne says:

    Thanx, AL….great benches albeit comfy or not, love the creativity. Here in sunny Colorado we have bench art in a wee town in the mountains known at Crested Butte, located at the foot of Mt. Crested Butte. The artist chose automobile parts (mostly fenders n hoods) and large native tree remains, for creating some interesting benches. Your pics are superior tho, thanx for sharing.

  7. I saw the headline and thought :”Gee whiz, I didn’t know the Jolly Swag was so seaworthy! And all the way to Ireland, too!”

    Seriously, though, good stuff. I’m interested especially in the World War I memorial.

    Take care, AL!

  8. Ellie O'Leary says:

    The benches are interesting, but one traffic light? Belfast is a great place, no need to exaggerate its quaintness. Maybe you should have walked a few more blocks.

    • allevenson says:

      Ellie, I have a map of Belfast. At the corner of high and main there is an icon of a stop light and the adjacent caption is “THE Stoplight”. I have walked the town extensively over the last three days searching out the events of the 3-day Book Festival. Belfast is charming, scenic, and vibrant, but if the essay I wrote about the benches implied quaint, I missed.

      • As former Mayor and current Belfast city council member and office dweller at said “only” traffic light… we actually have 4 traffic lights in all of Belfast. The only light in or near the downtown is the one mentioned and it was the first in Waldo County. The next stop lights are 30-40 miles away depending if you head n-s-e-w. Stop by anytime. From the light you can see downhill to the very busy harbor. We may not be quaint but we are wicked cool. Not just cool but a real working town with hardware store, great places to eat, shoe store, army navy, police station, bars, a lot of art, and much much more. And a couple of loyal fanatical boosters. 🙂

      • allevenson says:

        Would you be Mike “Sawzall” Hurley. Any chance I could buy you a coffee at the Coop. I will be there for several hours today pecking away at my laptop?

  9. Ewald Family Farm & Table says:

    There are stop lights outside of the Downtown District, well maybe just 2 more, but the traffic light is referred to “THE Stoplight” because it is the only one relevant while giving directions to visitors. The town of Belfast is not so secret anymore! Enjoy our great town!

    • allevenson says:

      And it will be a lot less secret when I post about the Book Festival, the bridges, and the pornographic Hot Diggity Dog Bear of the 2002 Bearfest.

      • Ewald Family Farm & Table says:

        Or Friday Night Art Walks, Arts in the Park, the Celtic Festival with international Cheese Rolling Competion, Free Wednesday Night Horseshoes in the City Park, and all the other great things nearby!! Fort Knox and Penobscot Narrows Observatory are even more secretive than Belfast and also amazing
        All things fun and creative are online, organized by Belfast Creative Coalition

      • allevenson says:

        I got a piece of the Celtic Festival when I stopped on my way through the week before. That is when I learned of the Book Festival which drew me back like.

        On the morning of my re-discovery of Belfast, I visit the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. I have a draft of a pictorial essay of the experience waiting in the blog’s queue.

        I am staying on in Belfast for a few more days. Even after Ieave Belfast has not seen the last of me.

        😉

        AL

  10. TLS says:

    We didn’t just build a footbridge in honor of our World War I dead; we rebuilt a 1921 bridge that was originally dedicated to our World War I dead. The bronze plaque that listed their names was ripped off the bridge in the ’60s and has not been seen since. By the 1990s, the bridge was condemned and parts of it were falling in the bay. Some of us campaigned to save it, and enough other people agreed with us in a referendum that we did save it. We replaced the entire superstructure, repaired the piers, and made it look as much like the original bridge as we could. We recently rededicated it in the memory of the soldiers who died in WWI, replacing the plague that bore their names. But we also named it Armistice Bridge. We want people to remember that World War I was supposed to be the war to end all war, and that before there was Veterans Day, there was Armistice Day–a day that celebrated the cessation of war. In other words, a day that celebrated peace. We think of it as a war memorial that honors those who died; we also consider it a monument to peace. We’re glad you noticed it during your visit.

  11. Ewald Family Farm & Table says:

    We welcome you to come and visit our humble Farmer’s Market! Not the Belfast Market, which is amazing, but the Brooks Farmer’s Market!! Route 7 has awe inspiring views, especially if you drive a little further West than Brooks, and the drive back into Belfast is breathtaking! Market is Saturday 9-1. We would love to share all our back road drives with you!

    • allevenson says:

      Ewald, Ellie, TLS, and Elaine

      Thanks for the comments and suggestions.

      My sister is driving up from Freeport on Thurs to poke around with me for a couple of days. The suggestion of Brooks, Rt 7, and the back roads is a just the sort of outing we’ll like. Thanks.

      Do you have any other thoughts of something I ought to see before leaving the area? Any other off bits of area history? (Yesterday I discovered the mural at The Waterfall commemorating the Castration Caper of the 2002 Belfast Bearfest)

      AL

  12. Elaine Bielenberg says:

    Hi Al, thanks for sharing Our Town Belfast’s bench project on your blog. There are 30 seats in all and the map can be found at: http://ourtownbelfast.org/ left hand column click on “Please, Be Seated!”
    You can also find other photos and descriptions at http://www.belfastcreativecoalition.org
    Although they may look uncomfortable, people do enjoying sitting in or on them all day long.
    Each artist is very proud to be part of making Belfast a unique and charming town.
    Enjoy your stay!

  13. Yea, Belfast. The BEST town along Mid-coast Maine and perhaps even beyond. We love our neighborhoods as much as our downtown. Please take time to walk the length of Charles St. It is the walking “street” of choice for most of us locals. Not only will you see a bit of historic Belfast you may note some interesting gardens and art along the way, not to mention some very eccentric neighbors.

  14. Pingback: Belfast Please, Be Seated in US Travel Blog | BELFAST MAINE EVENTS AND VENUES | BELFAST CREATIVE COALITION

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