Navigator’s Guide to Downtown Searsport
By Alexandra Hall
Photographed by Dave Waddell
Excerpt from our June 2022 issue
Searsport is no longer the place of world trade that its deep-water port made it in the 19th century, but it still has ornate sea captain’s houses and imposing brick and granite commercial buildings, in Italian styles and Greek Revival, lining Main Street. Today, the historic downtown is home to both artisanal and modern shops and restaurants.
Laura Brown has been going to Maine arts and crafts festivals for 20 years, and the originality she saw there inspired the gift shop she opened last summer. Its meticulously orchestrated displays – of sculptural pottery thrown in Maine, for example, or handmade textiles – are themselves works of art. “The idea is for buyers to mix and match a few of these contemporary pieces with things they already own,” she says. This summer, she is transforming a room in the store into an art gallery, where she will alternate exhibitions by local artists, starting with landscape painter Rachel Siviski. 36 E. Main St. 207-548-4073.
2. Hey sailor!
The new “gastro dive bar” from the owners of the famous Hichborn restaurant in Stockton Springs keeps its promise of “TACOS ART BOOZE”. We loved the deeply flavorful carnitas tacos and the fried smelts with chili chips, off the snack menu. The cocktail list is divided by region (Caribbean, South Pacific, etc.) and includes nods to local maritime history (the Searsport Switchel is made with maple syrup from Maine and rum from the distillery Stroudwater of Portland). Vivid optical art by Fredrick Kuhn of Stockton Springs lights up the stalls and new artwork (all for sale!) hits the walls every few months. 25 E. Main St. 207-306-9132.
3. The Aquarius Gift Shop
Jen Wenz fills her thrift-and-more store with gently used fashion — including cool hats, belts and vintage t-shirts — as well as all kinds of gifts, from candles to books to jewelry. It’s also a one-stop-shop for New Age needs: incense, tarot decks, and more. Purchases support Wenz’s nonprofit, Pay It Forward for Kids, which provides Maine children with warm clothing, school supplies and other necessities. 28 E. Main St. 207-548-4187.
4. Coastal Cafe and Bakery
Patrick and Celine Kelley opened their casual breakfast and lunch establishment in 2014. Locals line up for New York-style hand-rolled bagels, slow-cooked corned beef hash, and delicious pastries. “Everyone comes in wanting a croissant,” Kelley says. “I can never do enough.” Cute mugs and shopping bags featuring the café’s puffin mascot make great souvenirs. 23 E. Main St. 207-548-4156.
5. Splendid Sweet Shoppe
After years as a shop window-less confectioner, Meryem Rogan opened this whimsical boutique with her mom, DeAnne, in 2019. The decor is Alice in Wonderland-themed, and the sweets run the gamut: cute little sweets, delicate macaroons, handmade turtles, even sundaes, with scoops of Spencer’s Ice Cream, at Bradley’s, topped with glistening hard candies. The 1891 building, with its impressive mansard roof, is a former bank, and the Rogans have turned the vault into a children’s area filled with treats. “We want everyone to feel like they’ve entered a magical world,” says Meryem. 21 E. Main St. 207-538-6729.
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