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Prout's Neck, Maine, is a true United States treasure, and I had the pleasure of visiting there recently.
I stayed at the Black Point Inn, located at 510 Black Point Road, Scarborough, Maine, 04074. The beautiful inn, just minutes from Portland and with easy access to the Jetport, rests on the tip of Prout’s Neck along the beautiful Maine coastline. The property is surrounded by three bodies of water. There are two private beaches to enjoy (both simply spectacular and within walking distance). You will immediately feel at home with a beautiful fireplace, expansive porches and comfy sitting rooms right within the inn lobby. There is a front sitting room complete with cozy wicker furniture, which I found to be the perfect spot for enjoying a glass of wine and a good book. Inn amenities include two restaurants: "The Point" and "The Chart Room." Both provide a delicious menu, complete with enough lobster options to keep the Maine visitor happy their entire visit. Among my favorites, for breakfast was the Lobster Benedict, and then for either lunch or dinner, the Lobster Salad sandwich, a light yet completely satisfying choice. We chose the inn's "Lunch to Go" option - guests order their lunch at the front desk the night before, choose a time to pick it up and it's ready to go for you to take wherever you may be visiting for the day. My top two signature drink recommendations would be the "Dark and Stormy," a delightful combination of Goslings Black Seal Rum, Captain Eli's Ginger Beer and fresh lime, and the "Black Point Sunset," a yummy concoction of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Beefeater Gin, fresh lemon juice and a splash of Grenadine. Both were a wonderful addition to a much-needed vacation. Both the restaurants and the bar provided us with countless tasty choices and never left us hungry. I want to mention the delicious appetizer we had upon arrival by the pool. It was called the "Sailors Snack Plate" and was explained by the manager to be shaved prosciutto, calabrese, sopressata, olives and "chow chow," a pickled veggie combination that was eaten by the lobster fishermen as it did not have to be refrigerated and lasted the length of time they were at sea. It was a really interesting story and a very good snack plate.
On the morning of day two, we visited the famous "Prout's Neck Cliff Walk," the perfect way to begin my day of learning about the beauty that Winslow Homer so perfectly immortalized in his paintings. The almost two-mile walk was breathtaking, consisting of paths, a rock climb, a first-hand look at "Cannon Rock" (featured in Homer's 1895 painting) and other assorted nature. It's something no one should miss if close by. The beauty of Prout's Neck is second to none. The sound of the waves crashing against the rocks was the perfect "time out" this New Yorker so very needed. In the late afternoon, I was scooped up from the inn and driven right down the road to the Winslow Homer Studio. While Winslow Homer (1836-1910) made his home and studio in Maine for the final three decades of his life, his early career was in New York City, where he was known for his works on subjects such as the Civil War and Modern American Life. Winslow Homer first visited Prout’s Neck, Maine in 1875, but returned in 1883 and established his summer home, better known as the "Ark." Homer, who was a man of independence, enlisted the help of architect John Calvin Stevens to move the property's carriage house 100 feet away, closer to the water, and converted the carriage house into his living quarters. Also created was the property's famous "piazza," or porch, on the second floor. This small building became Homer's residence and work studio for the rest of his life, with the addition in 1890 of his primary painting room. He and his family traveled to the Bahamas, Cuba and Florida in the winter months. The artist spent hours at a time strolling the coast and studying the view from his piazza. As a person who was treated to a personal tour of Homer's property, I must say that the view from the piazza is something every art enthusiast should see.
The tour began by entering Winslow Homer's main entrance and into the living room. There are some personal items of Homer's including his famous meal flag used for requesting meals from the nearby Checkly Hotel. At that time there were five to eight hotels on Prout's Neck; presently there is only The Black Point Inn. The library contains countless titles from the artist's lifetime. The lower painting room takes you on a tour of Homer's life and painting career starting with his works in NYC, and there are reproductions of his works on display as well as original issues of Harpers Weekly. Also interesting and notable were the windows - Homer had etched his name in the glass, which truly marked his "spot." The second floor painting room is a detailed study of Homer's painting process and the very things that influenced his artistic style. From there you are treated out onto the piazza, which was my personal favorite stop on the tour - I could have stayed there for hours. You could truly get a feeling for what he was looking at when he was inspired to paint both "Weatherbeaten" in 1894 as well as "The Artist’s Studio in an Afternoon Fog" in 1894. The entire property carries such a moment of peace and tranquility - these qualities must have been what kept Winslow Homer there for so many years.
The studio was opened to the public Sept. 25, 2012 after a three-phase renovation over the course of seven years (acquired by Portland Museum of Art in 2006). A true treasure of Maine and National Historic Landmark, it really celebrates Homer's life and passion and gives us all a firsthand look at how the artist lived and from where his many inspirations were derived. The Studio is 2,200 square feet of true history. Tours take place from April through December each year. Advance reservations are required and can be made by calling (207) 775-6148. The duration of the tour is around 2.5 hours and tickets cost around $55 per person. For more information please visit the Museum's website.
A memorable time was had and I have personally put Maine on my list of "must go backs." Prout's Neck was a gorgeous and peaceful treat and it makes perfect sense to me that an artist was inspired to work there. To quote Mr. Winslow Homer and further explain his love of Maine's beauty and nature, "When you paint, try and put down exactly what you see. Whatever else you have to offer will come out anyway." It certainly did, Mr. Homer. It certainly did.