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Backroads Country Churches of Maine #4

01/13/2014
This wonderful turn of the century image is part of the Penobscot Marine Museum photo collection

This wonderful turn of the century image is part of the Penobscot Marine Museum photo collection

I didn’t take this picture.

Nobody alive today took this picture.

The photographer is unknown.

But it’s a wonderful image isn’t it?

I found the picture while I was scanning glass plate negatives at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, Maine. I volunteer in the museum photo archives once a week. It’s discoveries like this that keep me going back every Monday afternoon.

The photograph was meant to be a penny postcard but somehow it became a piece of art. It tells a story. It creates a feeling.

We see white-washed, solid walls instead of showy, fragile stained glass windows. A complicated, two-tone steeple. Large rocks in the foreground. Uncut grass. Young, healthy trees.  A weather vane way, way, way up in the sky.

The picture feels like a spring day.

We also see flaws. The serpent shaped line that cuts through the steeple. Ghosting around the edges. A scratch in the emulsion.

It’s a pure, honest depiction of rural Maine. Strong. Functional. Inspirational. Beautifully mysterious.

I also love what’s missing from the photo. There’s no parking lot. No signs. No road. No people dressed up in their Sunday best. The only modern intrusion we see are power lines, which came to many small Maine communities in the 1890s.

Yes, there is power in this picture.

The power of nature. The power of faith. The power of art.

Franklin, Maine is located about an hour drive downeast from Bangor.

Perhaps this spring I’ll explore the town and its countryside. Maybe the church still stands.

Maybe I could take a picture this beautiful.

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2 Comments
  1. Hey Mark,

    Really liked what you wrote! kj

  2. David Ferrara permalink

    Touching blog, Nick. Nice work.

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