The Davistown Museum is a tool, art, and regional history museum with two physical locations in Maine and a website, rich with resources. Its main building is in Liberty, while its office and a sculpture garden are in Hulls Cove (Bar Harbor). The primary mission of the museum is the recovery, display, and interpretation of hand tools used in Maine and New England's maritime culture. It serves as an important clearinghouse for information on the history of hand tools and their roles in the early industries of Maine and New England and offers an extensive exhibit of hand tools in Liberty and online. The Museum also provides a forum for contemporary Maine artists to exhibit their work, creating a unique environment that juxtaposes tools, as both historical and sculptural objects, with a wide diversity of art forms. In addition, the Museum strives to increase community awareness of and to provide access to information on local, regional, Native American, and environmental history. Visitors to the Davistown Museum website will find an unprecedented wealth of resources, which include the complete text of museum publications; unpublished essays; photo tours of the entire museum at both sites; annotated inventories of holdings, including tools and art, many with photos, and library books; bibliographies, and the Maine Artists Guild Gallery website.

Hours of Operation:Main Hall



March to December
:
11 AM to 4 PM Thursday - Sunday or by appointment
Closed Fridays August and September
Closed January & February

Yearly Hours



2022 Earth Day Essay


Davistown Museum 2022 Spring Update

On March 24, 2022, Acadia National Park announced the acquisition of a 2 ½ acre parcel of land along the south side of the Breakneck Stream opposite and adjacent to the Davistown Museum Sculpture Gardens in Hulls Cove, also called the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site.

In recognition of this acquisition, visitors to the Park are invited to visit the sculpture garden and learn about the historic significance of this area, including the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site. The Breakneck Stream, which ends in the Breakneck Hollow, was the most accessible of the few available water sources along the western shore of Frenchman Bay. It supplied fresh water to Native Americans living along the shore of Frenchman Bay for several thousand years, and then to French and English explorers who came here beginning in the early 17th century.

Between 1630 and 1700, numerous French fur trading expeditions visited this site for water, staging, trading, and exploration, hence the name “Frenchman Bay.” Hulls Cove and the Breakneck Hollow were among the most important French trading locations on Mount Desert Island because they offered easy access to fresh water and the Native Americans who lived at Hulls Cove and on Mount Desert Island. 

In 1692 the French caught the spies Armand de Vignon and Francois Albert, who had told the English of the French plan to attack Fort Pemmaquid, newly rebuilt by the English after its destruction by the Wabanaki in 1689. The French executed them with tomahawks in front of 120 first nation shell fishers at the Native American village in Hulls Cove, which is now the location of the Edward Brewer house. (see below for discussion of this house).

Abraham Somes established the first English settlement on Mount Desert Island at Somesville (1761) along the cross-island trail to Southwest Harbor. In 1817, ship builder Edward Brewer came to Mount Desert Island from Southern New England and built his house on the Breakneck Hollow site, the same year in which he built his first schooner Houldeh and Judah (95 tons) at Hadley Point. Brewer then built many ships in Hulls Cove, including the brigantine Mary Jane (1825), the schooner Exchange (1829), and the brigantine Cabinet (1831). He continued to build schooners and brigantines until his last ship, the E.T. Hamor in 1889. Most ships built in Hulls Cove were used for fishing or the West Indies and coasting trades. Brewer built a sawmill just above the head of tide on the Breakneck Stream to the left of this marker.

In the 19th century, the Breakneck Road was the principle route to Northeast Harbor. It was named after several unfortunate carriage accidents on the hill that descends to cross the Breakneck Stream about a half mile inland from the Breakneck Hollow site marker. In 1835, Brewer and John de Gilmore bought 6,144 acres, which included Cadillac Mountain, from the trustees of the William Bingham estate. This land later became part of Acadia National Park, which is traversed by the remnant of the ancient cross-island trail, including the Breakneck Road. When the great forest fire of 1947 swept through this area and destroyed much of Bar Harbor, water from the Breakneck Stream was used to save the Brewer Residence and several other buildings in Hulls Cove Village.

Since the Brewers sold their house in 1947, it has housed a restaurant and several vegetarian cafes. In 1983, H.G. “Skip” Brack bought the property that includes the Brewer House and the land across the street from it, now the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site. He established the Hulls Cove Tool Barn and later the Davistown Museum in Hulls Cove and Liberty, Maine, and included the sculpture gardens as part of the museum, both of which continue in operation and welcome visitors.

The many tools and antiques sold online and at the Liberty Tool Company and Hulls Cove Tool Barn help fund the maintenance and operation of the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site. Visit davistownmuseum.org, libertytoolco.com, and jonesport-wood.com to support the operation of the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site, which lies adjacent to Acadia National Park at the Hulls Cove park entrance. Donations to support the operation of the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site may be sent to:

Davistown Museum
PO Box 144
Hulls Cove, ME  04644

Or made through www.davistownmuseum.org/joinsupport.html

In conjunction with the ongoing improvements to the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site adjacent to Acadia National Park in Hulls Cove, the Davistown Museum would like to announce a fundraising drive to raise money for repairs to and the expansion of the trail around the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site to include the ancient water hole used by the earliest European settlers to Hulls Cove. Additional funding is also being sought to upgrade the flora of the sculpture garden and add additional sculptures to the gardens. College of the Atlantic and other students are being sought to maintain and expand the historic site gardens and add small sculptures to the existing display (currently +/-30 sculptures on 3 acres). The Pennywheel Press, which publishes the Davistown Museum publications, has issued a recent update of all 25 museum publications (1982-2022). The publications are available at Liberty Tool Company, Davistown Museum, Liberty Graphics Outlet in Liberty, Hulls Cove Tool Barn in Bar Harbor, Sherman’s Bookstores in Maine, and online on this site and amazon.com.

Many members of the indigenous communities living along the shores of Frenchman’s Bay were killed by French and English settlers. Samuel de Champlain landed in Hulls Cove in the early summer of 1604 to get potable drinking water from the Breakneck Stream. Edward Brewer family members built over 100 schooners at this location from 1814–1920. The Brewer house is still located on the north side of Breakneck Road across from the sculpture garden and next to the Hulls Cove Tool Barn and along with the adjoining greenhouse is the principle structure on the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site.

The Breakneck Hollow Historic Site has been created by the Davistown Museum to denote the location of the most important freshwater source for mariners and early settlers living on the Northeast side of Mount Desert Island before the development of the water supply system that allowed the rapid growth of Bar Harbor in the mid-19th century. Another freshwater source used by the early settlers and their livestock lies in the far western corner of the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site, where a late 18th century enclosed granite watering hole was used by the early settlers of Hulls Cove to water their livestock. The circular trail currently under reconstruction on the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site (1/2 mile) connects the two freshwater sources that were essential to the viability of both the Native American communities living at Hulls Cove for many centuries and the early shipwrights of Hulls Cove. This trail can now be hiked by visitors including children who might need a quiet, if short, alternative to the many crowded trails of Acadia National Park which lie to the South and West of this historic site. (see map—and enjoy your visit to the park and the Davistown Museum’s sculpture gardens and Tool Barn)

 

Trail map

 

2022 Breakneck Hollow Fundraising Campaign

On March 24, 2022, Acadia National Park announced the acquisition of a 2 ½ acre parcel of land along the south side of the Breakneck Stream opposite and adjacent to the Davistown Museum Sculpture Gardens in Hulls Cove, also called the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site.
In recognition of this acquisition, visitors to the park are invited to visit the sculpture garden and learn about the historic significance of this area, including the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site. The projects the Davistown Museum is funding for the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site include the following:
The history of Frenchman’s Bay including its indigenous inhabitants, first settlers, and the settlement of Hulls Cove. This will include an overview of the history and fate of the Abenaki communities who lived here from +/- 20,000 BC to the 20th century, the first French settlers in Frenchman’s Bay, and the execution of Armand de Vignon and Francois Albert at the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site in 1690. This history will also include the activities of the Brewer family and other early settlers, the origins of Acadia National Park, and the history of Hulls Cove.
The second section of this overview will include comments on the ecology of Frenchman’s Bay, including a summary of the ecological history of Frenchman’s Bay, as published in the Davistown Museum’s Climate Change and the Ecology of the Gulf of Maine. Another focus of the report will be the changes in the biodiversity of Frenchman’s Bay including changes in its fisheries. Also noted will be the impact of cataclysmic climate change on Frenchman’s Bay and a summary of the flora and fauna of the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site.
This report will also include a description of the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site, including its trails, the development of the Tool Barn and greenhouse, a description of the Hulls Cove sculpture gardens and the artworks in the collection. The Breakneck Hollow Historic Site is also seeking the assistance of students from the College of the Atlantic and other colleges who will assist with the study of the history of the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site, its ecology, and the documentation of the impact of cataclysmic climate change on its flora and fauna.
The fundraising activities of the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site will include encouragement of donations to be sent to the Davistown Museum Breakneck Hollow Historic Site at the Bar Harbor Bank and Trust. Persons with interest in the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site may sign up online to receive future announcements and flyers. Workers are also sought for groundskeeping and maintenance activities at the sculpture gardens. The publications of the Davistown Museum will also be sold to raise funds for the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site. Photos of the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site will also be published to allow online visitors to see a detailed overview of the historic site. Various maps of Frenchman’s Bay and MDI will be available for purchase at the Hulls Cove Tool Barn, Liberty Tool and the Davistown Museum.
The Davistown Museum solicits questions, comments, suggestions, recommendations, and requests for additional projects. Interested online visitors are encouraged to sign in. A principle objective of the museum’s fundraising campaign is to fund payments for students at COA and other schools to help execute studies of the history of the ecology and development of the Frenchman’s Bay region of the Gulf of Maine, where the Breakneck Hollow Historic Site in Hulls Cove is located.

 

 


New Davistown Museum publication: Climate Change and the Ecology of the Gulf of Maine: History, Biodiversity, Fisheries and the Pollution Cocktail. The focus of this publication is the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and environmental chemicals on the biodiversity and ecology of the Gulf of Maine. We use the term “pollution cocktail” to describe the effluents of the rapidly growing global military-industrial consumer society, the legacy of the age of plastics, and its progeny, the information technology revolution.
Kirkus has reviewed this publication: "An environmental work explores the way pollution has altered the waters off Maine. The Gulf of Maine is a robust and vital environment, home to some of the world’s most productive fisheries. This biodiversity—and the economies that are sustained by it—is increasingly threatened by the plastics, chemicals, and other eco-toxins present in the Gulf’s waters. These pollutants, along with rising ocean temperatures, acidification, invasive pathogens, and unsustainable fishing practices, are coming together to pose an existential threat to the ecology of the Gulf and neighboring habitats. With this book, Brack seeks to diagnose these problems and describe their particular impacts on the health of the region. After a discussion of the history of cataclysmic climate change on the global scale—since, as the author points out, “any commentary on the ecology and biodiversity of the Gulf of Maine must begin with the observation that this bioregion is only one small component of an interconnected finite biosphere”—he sets his sights on the Gulf itself, including its geography, hydrology, biology, and the effects of both human commerce and regulation. He concludes by enumerating the specific threats that exist for Maine fisheries, many of which cannot be solved outside of addressing the global climate crisis. This is a technical work, and Brack’s prose is suited for its purpose: “It’s also important to note the role the diadromous fisheries played in the early economy of Maine fisheries. Diadromous fish are those species that migrate between the sea and freshwater environments.” The text features maps, charts, and graphs displaying information on fish landings, catch limits, invasive species, water cycles, and other relevant data. The author offers few solutions—indeed, there are few local fixes for a globalized crisis—but he does a fine job laying out the parameters of the problem and how it may worsen over time. This is not a work that will appeal to average readers, but those with a stake or interest in the ecology or economy of the Gulf of Maine may find the facts contained here helpful, if grim. A useful and sober evaluation of the changing situation in the Gulf of Maine."

Crafting a Vibrant Art Scene in Ellsworth

The Ellsworth American has an article on a new community arts space in Ellsworth, opened by Ken and Linda Perrin, whose work is in the Davistown Museum.

David Wright Films Skip and Alan Magee Conversation for Feature Documentary

Filmmaker David Wright (http://www.expeditioncamera.com/ )recently visited the museum and Liberty Tool to film a segment of his feature documentary The Dark Illuminates the Light about artist Alan Magee, whose work is featured in the museum.

"This film takes the viewer on a breathtaking visual journey—an exploration of the artist’s recurring subjects, locales, and the historical sources which have sustained his passion for five decades. Through his paintings, sculpture, monotypes, music, and short films Magee invites viewers to travel with him through the veiled recesses of human experience—and back into the affirming light of day.
​Through this film, Director David Wright hopes to inspire people in all disciplines, especially the young, to bring their gifts and aptitudes to bear on the multiple crises that threaten our common future. " (from http://www.expeditioncamera.com/thedarkilluminatesthelight)

Skip is one of a number of Alan’s friends filmed in conversation with him for the documentary. They discussed how Alan’s work has been influenced by and connects with Liberty Tool, Skip’s work, and the museum.

More Photos

Kirkus has issued a review for Where Have All the Plastics Gone?

Video of a presentation given by curator Skip Brack at the Thomaston Historical Society is now available.

A new historical marker has been erected outside the Hulls Cove Sculpture Garden and Hulls Cove Tool Barn with information on the confederacy of the Mawooshen and the history of Breakneck Hollow.

Jessica Straus, who has new work on display in the museum, wrote a blog entry about the Davistown Museum and Liberty Tool Company across the street.

Liberty Tool Company (across the street in Liberty) was featured in an article in the Bangor Daily News, "Liberty Tool still heart of the community despite being for sale."

Curator Skip Brack was interviewed for the WBGO News segment "This Day in 1870" featuring Seth Boyden, inventor of malleable iron.

The Winter 2014-Spring 2015 issue of our newsletter, Tooling Around, is out.

Drafts are underway for volume 4 of Biocatastrophe: Antibiotic Resistance: Bacteria, Viruses, Fungi and other Pathogens, A Threat to World Health.

New photos of the current displays in the main hall are up.

 

A new rolling glass display case in the Main Hall features tools used in the display at the Plymouth public library in May 2013. These tools will be part of the Tools Teach outreach program.

The Davistown Museum recieved a grant from the 1916 Foundation for a commemorative sculpture created by Jay Sawyer in memory of David McLaughlin titled "A Spirit of its Own." It is loaned to the Portland Jetport where it is installed and viewable from the Jetport Access Road. See: The Portland Daily Sun, The Press Herald

 

We have acquired for display an important Red Paint artifact collection from Sandy Point, Stockton Springs.

 

We have completed our Hand Tools in History series with the publication of Tools Teach: The Iconography of American Hand Tools (Volume 13). Kirkus has issued this review.

 

Publications are available from our publications page, amazon.com, and other booksellers

Find us on Facebook!

Live streaming webcam feed of the Davistown Museum main hall in Liberty.
The Liberty Tool Company across the street from the Davistown Museum also has a live streaming webcam, as does Captain Tinkham's Emporium in Searsport

The Davistown Museum's environmental history department has information on severe solar storms

Donna Dodson, new MAG artist, visits the museum in 2012.

Photo Tour: Tools Conservation Area (last updated 3-10-11)

The Davistown Museum is currently seeking a hardness tester for use on metals. Donations welcome! The Museum is seeking various metallurgical samples, including bog iron, silicon slag, blooms, etc. We are also seeking photographs of certain old metal tools. Please contact us if you can help!

New acquisitions

A Notebook for Nekesa by Hannah and Sarah Emigh-Doyle added to Publications

Special Publication 62: Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Information Handbook. A sample text may be found here. A review of this publication by Kirkus Book Reviews may be found here.

Nuclear Disaster in Japan: Accident Blog

Wapanoag Repatriation of the Wapanucket Hoard

Need help? Try our Guide to Flat and Round World Resources or see the museum website directory.

Overnight accommodations are available at the Liberty facility for visitors to the Center for the Study of Early Tools.

History and tool enthusiasts are urged to support the Davistown Museum by becoming members, making tax deductible contributions to our endowment, or donating tools and other artifacts for resale on our e-stores and auctions. Consignments for our e-stores are also welcome

Hulls Cove office: PO Box 144, Hulls Cove, ME 04644 phone: 207/288-5126  Fax:  207/288-2725

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