Preserve America Community:
Rockland, Maine, (population 7,650) was incorporated in 1854 and is famous for its mountainous shore and hundreds of harbors and inlets. Shipping, granite quarrying, and commercial fishing have played an important role in Rockland’s economy. The city continues to attract new industries while retaining its tradition of ship building and repair. Over the years, Rockland has increased tourism due to its historic downtown, museums, art galleries, restaurants, and well known annual events.
Rockland is committed to preserving its history and heritage, which is represented in part by 19 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A Downtown Façade Improvement Grant Program enhanced and aesthetically improved the downtown area. It also provided new business opportunities through adaptive re-use and preservation of existing downtown buildings. Main Street, which is also on the National Register of Historic Places, thrives as a downtown destination for shoppers.
The city has shown its commitment to cultural heritage in many ways. Finding a permanent home for the Rockland Historical Society in the Rockland Public Library took a huge effort. The Society, which is run mostly by volunteers, displays artifacts, records, photographs, and memorabilia of the city’s history. Over the years, the society has also published several books on Rockland.
Not only does Rockland revitalize historic resources – it protects them. The Economic Development Advisory Committee helped develop design guidelines emphasizing restoration and reuse, architectural integrity, and appropriate choice of building materials.
The city also promotes events that showcase and help protect its heritage. For 60 years, the annual Maine Lobster Festival has drawn crowds to the area. This five-day event, run entirely by volunteers, focuses on community heritage and maritime traditions. Much of the money collected during the event is reinvested into community-based projects, such as the Maine Lighthouse Museum, local schools, and the historic Rockland Recreation Center Building Fund. Recently, the festival board of directors donated land adjacent to the festival grounds to the city. The land will be kept as green space and will retain a view of the city’s harbor from South Main Street.
For more information
The City of Rockland: www.ci.rockland.me.us
Penobscot Bay Regional Chamber of Commerce: www.therealmaine.com/index.html
Posted June 11, 2009