Nestled under the peak of Mount Battie lays a quaint little town known as Camden Maine. It was founded in 1791 and has since sprouted into a bustling tourist town. Its various locally owned shops add to the town’s quaint charm. Colorful awnings decorate brick store fronts inviting customers to buy Maine theme products. Promises of the best sea food in town adorn chalkboard signs outside restaurants accompanied by the pleasant aroma of meats and breads. Book store displays scream Maine, with puffin themed children books and lobster cook books. Gift shops, restaurants, book stores, and clothing stores all add to the cultural identity of Camden Maine. Going for a visit, there are some places that must be visited and enjoyed.
Camden Public Library: No one should leave Camden without visiting the Camden Public Library. It can be found on Maine Street; right next to Harbor Park. The Library was opened for the first time in 1928 and has just recently been pronounced a National Historical Landmark along with the amphitheater next to it. The outside of the building has dramatic columns and an amazing view of the harbor. The inside of the building rivals the outside with its own drastic architectural feats. The three floors of the library all have something a little different and a little special.
Walking into the first floor is like walking into the Parthenon. In the middle of the room columns lead to a circular skylight. A line from Edna St. Vincent Mallay’s poem, “Renascence” sprawls across the top of the dome. This area becomes a perfect place to read or do work on a sunny afternoon as daylight streams through the ceiling. To the very left of this area “The Jean Picker Room” is proudly displayed above the door of a room set between books and computers. A giant screen television sits on display at the front of the room with a piano off to the side. The room lacks adornments except a few item such as these, because on the walls are photographs depicting the Maine fishing industry. These pictures beautifully depict Maine’s fishing culture. Giant skeletal boats arranged next to small lobster vessels cling to the walls. People with smiles plastered on their faces peer out from photos across the room at iced covered boats and large hauls of sea creatures.
Back in the main room of the library the stairs wind up to the second and third floors of the library. Leading to the second floor on the wall is a timeline of different events in Camden’s History. This gets visitors in the mood for historical facts and ready to visit the Edward J. Walsh History Center. Unlike the first floor this one has little to look at beside some historical memorabilia. The third floor on the other hand is perhaps just as grand as the first.
At one end of the third floor fireplace welcomes visitors and at the other a giant window climbs high up on the wall up letting in sunlight. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling and comfy red chairs with coffee tables are scattered here and there. The walls are adorned with paintings of stormy oceans and ships trying to stay afloat. The window seats set along the walls look out onto Camden and give patrons a glimpse of the harbor and the ocean that lies beyond. This beautiful place seems to fit better in a Jane Austin novel than in this modern era.
The Village Shop: The oldest gift shop on Maine Street is the Village Shop. It offers a variety of moose and lobster themed products to the wandering traveler. It’s one of the best places to acquire souvenirs for friends and family back home. And, if a moose themed rug just doesn’t cut it for your special someone, they offer embroidery in the back of the store.
Serendipity: One of the more popular places in town is Serendipity: Fine Consignment. The inside of the store is very bright and color blossoms up in random patches to add to the décor. For example hats of different neon colors decorate the front window promising a jubilant atmosphere. In this second hand store, prices range dramatically, anywhere from $59.99 for a sweater to $6.00 for a shirt in the bargain section. Their wares tend to be on the less fashionable side with floral print shirts and blander designs; however, it is possible to find something both flattering and affordable. A cute brown sundress can be purchased for $16.99, and in the sales rack a silver vest can be bought for $10.00. These items are what Serendipity is all about, trying to find that diamond in the ruff.
Fresh Bakery and Market: For a delicious treat go to the Fresh Bakery and Market located at 1 Bay View Landing which is a slight turn off of Main Street. This duel restaurant and bakery powerhouse offers many delectable treats at reasonable prices. The restaurant portion doesn’t open on Tuesdays or Wednesdays so enjoy the wonderful baked treats from the bakery on these days. The pastel colors really brighten up the room and make up for the lake of scenery outside the window. The blueberry muffins ($2.25) are incredible moist on the inside with a slight crunch on the outside. Wash it all down with a creamy espresso ($2.00) that will help keep the chill of the ocean air at bay.
Stone Soup: To enjoy a nice book at discounted prices go to Stone Soup located on Maine Street. This hidden gem is located on the second floor and can be easily overlooked. The store has a tranquil ambiance brought on by the numerous books lining every corner of the two roomed layout and the gentle hum of bluesy music drifting about. The store’s clerk greets customers warmly before receding behind a wall of books and leaving them to explore the shelves undisturbed. Every type of book ranging from cooking and gardening to science fiction and religion can be found shelves or piled up on the floor. The prices differ between books, but usually the inside cover reveals them to be half price.
Harbor Park: For a nice short stroll, go to Harbor Park which overlooks Penobscot Bay. In the entrance of the park a statue dedicated to those Camden breed soldiers who died in the Civil War stands proudly against a wall of foliage. The most striking aspect of Harbor Park is its proximity to the Smiling Cow; because behind this gift shop and the three or so shops next to it, a drop off creates a miniature waterfall that flows into the harbor. The sound of the rushing water makes a nice backdrop for strollers and the people lounging on the benches near the walkways. Near the water’s edge, looking down, fishing nets and various seaweeds can be seen scattered about. Out across the bay Windjammer masts thrust high into the sky and beyond them the vast expanse of ocean tempts fishermen and lobstermen alike. This is the perfect place settle down on a bench to read a book or enjoy a muffin. Occasionally pigeons will show up to eat the birdseed scattered on the ground, so the place is never lonely.