Maine: An Encyclopedia


Location Map for Gouldsboro

Location Map for Gouldsboro

Year Population
1970 1,310
1980 1,574
1990 1,986
2000 1,941
2010 1,737
Gouldsboro Population Chart 1790-2010

Population Trend 1790-2010

Geographic Data
N. Latitude 44:25:37
W. Latitude 68:02:34
Maine House District 136
Maine Senate District 6
Congress District 2
Area sq. mi. (total) 100
Area sq. mi. (land) 46.1
Population/sq.mi. (land) 37.7
County: Hancock

Total=land+water; Land=land only
Sign: Welcome to Schoodic Peninsular (2004)

Sign: Welcome to Schoodic Peninsular (2004)

[GUULS-bo-ro] (once Gouldsborough) is a town in Hancock County, incorporated on February 16, 1789 from Gouldsboro Plantation. It was named for one of the original proprietors,  Robert Gould. Gouldsboro annexed land from township, later plantation, number 7 (1845, 1870, 1905) and set off land to form Winter Harbor in 1895. The sign above directs travelers to both Gouldsboro and Winter Harbor.

Church in South Gouldsboro (2004)

South Gouldsboro Church (2004)

Village Scene in South Gouldsboro (2004)

Village Scene in South Gouldsboro (2004)

First inhabited by Europeans in 1700, the town occupies the upper portion of a peninsular stretching from Frenchman’s Bay on the west to West Bay and Gouldsboro Bay on the east. Its harbors, such as Birch, Prospect and tiny Corea, offer welcome protection to coastal vessels. See Corea Harbor in the 1930s in this amateur film from Northeast Historic Film.

In the 1880’s, according to the Gazetteer of Maine, the town economy included “a flour-mill, two grist mills, a shingle, and a spool-lumber mill, a saw-mill, and a lobster-canning establishment.  There are also six incorporated mining companies, and two unincorporated, but in operation.” Gouldsboro at the time supported twelve public schoolhouses with a population in 1880 of 1,824.

Huge Beach Cliff Sardines Sign Overlooking Prospect Harbor (2004)

Huge Sardine Sign Overlooking Prospect Harbor (2004)

A town of working fishermen and summer visitors, Gouldsboro knew how to relax with a good game of baseball, as demonstrated by this 1935-1936 amateur film from the archives of Northeast Historic Film.

Author Louise Dickinson Rich lived here from the mid-1950’s through 1980, gaining insights into the Maine landscape and character for her writing.

Gouldsboro hosts two nature preserves. The Forest Pond Marsh sanctuary, managed by the town, is a resting and feeding area for migrating waterfowl as well as bald eagles, osprey and loons.

Long Porcupine Island is covered by mature spruce-fir and deciduous trees. The 125 acre island features sheer 100′ cliffs, bald eagles, and other nesting birds. Difficult to penetrate due to the density of the forest and lack of trails, it is managed by the Nature Conservancy and is closed during nesting season.

Snug and attractive Wonsqueak Harbor in southeastern Gouldsboro (2004)

Snug and attractive Wonsqueak Harbor in southeastern Gouldsboro (2004)

Form of Government: Town Meeting-Select Board-Manager.

Additional resources

Foss, Thomas. A Brief Account of the Early Settlements along the Shores of Skilling’s River: including . . . West Gouldsborough, . . . Hancock, Me.1870. (N.K. Sawyer, Printer)

Historical Researches of Gouldsboro, Maine. Compiled by The Daughters of Liberty. Gouldsboro, Me. Daughters of Liberty. c1904.

*Maine. Historic Preservation Commission. Augusta, Me.   Text and photos from National Register of Historic Places: and

Prospect Harbor Light Station: 88000151.PDF
Soderholtz Cottage: 92000793.PDF
West Gouldsboro Union Church: 90000926.PDF
West Gouldsboro Village Library: 91001512.PDF

Merriam, Ann Van Ness. Glimpses into Other Days of Prospect Harbor. 1964.

Osborne, Dorothy M. Gouldsboro Graphics. Ellsworth, Me. c1993.Printed by Downeast Graphics. (Cataloger Note: “Drawings by Dorothy M. Osborne.” “Photographs from Gouldsboro Historical Archives.”

Rich, Louise Dickinson. The Peninsula. Philadelphia. Lippincott. c1958.

Varney, George J. A Gazetteer of the State of Maine. 1886. p. 255.

National Register of Historic Places – Listings

Prospect Harbor Light Station

[Prospect Harbor Point, Prospect Harbor] The 1850 light station at Prospect Harbor was built in response to the local need for a navigational aid to this deep and sheltered anchorage. The station is located on Prospect Harbor Point in Gouldsboro,on the easterly side of the entrance to the inner harbor.It had the traditional mix of buildings: the tower, the keepers quarters, and the oil house to power the facility.

Prospect Harbor Light Station (2004)

Prospect Harbor Light Station (2004)

Throughout the 19th century the harbor was home to a large fleet of fishing vessels whose safe passage in and around the harbor was greatly aided by its beacon and fog signal. However, despite this apparent need for the station, the federal Light House Board deactivated the light in 1859 claiming that the harbor was not used as an anchorage during storms. In 1870, for some unknown reason, the light was turned back on and the buildings were renovated. In 1934 the light was automated.*

Soderholtz, Eric E., Cottage

Soderholtz Cottage (1991)

Soderholtz Cottage (1991)

[off West side of WA 186, .5 miles South of US 1 West Gouldsboro] The Soderholtz Cottage is a rambling one-story stone and frame building covered by a hip roof. Its principal block is composed of a pair of abutting ells that form an offset Greek Cross. A breezeway links this to a two-room frame addition. The complex rests on a wooded knoll with a view westward to Frenchman Bay.

Soderholtz Cottage (1991)

Soderholtz Cottage (1991)

Built about 1902 and enlarged later, the cottage is a rambling one-story masonry and frame building. It was designed and occupied as a summer residence by Eric Ellis Soderholtz, a noted nineteenth century architectural photographer and twentieth century potter. In his later career, Soderholtz developed a line of concrete garden furniture which he produced in a pottery that stood some distance below the cottage at the edge of the Bay.

Eric Ellis Soderholtz (1867-1959) was born in Sweden, but emigrated to the United States with his family at age five. He initially followed in the footsteps of his father, a professional photographer, photographing European architecture and gardens. His pottery soon found a ready market, particularly with the residents of Maine’s exclusive summer colonies, such as those on nearby Mt. Desert Island.*

West Gouldsboro Union Church

[Maine Route 186 between Jones Cove and Jones Pond West Gouldsboro] The Union Church, built between 1888-1891, is a wood frame building of unusual architectural character. Its eclectic, highly picturesque composition is particularly noteworthy when studied in the broader context of Maine’s church architecture of the 1880s.

West Gouldsboro Union Church (2004)

West Gouldsboro Union Church (2004)

Among the relatively few wood frame churches erected in Maine during the 1880s, this one is unique in overall composition and detailing. Among others of this period, two subsets exist. One includes the major edifices of stone and brick such as St. Mark’s in Augusta (1885-86) and the First Congregational Church in Farmington (1888). The other contains the typically smaller wooden churches and chapels, most of the latter of which were built in the rapidly developing summer resorts.

Among this group, the Union Church is distinguished by its unorthodox composition. This was unlike the majority of its contemporaries. The church almost seemed to celebrate the diversity of architectural features available to the builder during the late nineteenth century.*

West Gouldsboro Village Library

[Maine Route 186, east side, between Jones Cove and Jones Pond, West Gouldsboro] The West Gouldsboro Village Library features a tall rubble stone foundation that rises to the window sills, stuccoed exterior walls and chimney surfaces, and a steeply pitched gable roof framing half-timbered peaks.

West Gouldsboro Village Library (2004)

West Gouldsboro Village Library (2004)

The Library is a small, but nonetheless striking Tudor Revival style building erected in 1907 from plans drawn by Bar Harbor architect Fred L. Savage. It is one of only a handful of library buildings built in Maine in this style. The idea of establishing a library in West Gouldsboro was generated in 1904 by the Rev. Samuel R. Maxwell, minister of the adjacent Union Church. This suggestion was quickly acted upon, and on January 5, 1905, a social library organization known as the West Gouldsboro Village Library was officially incorporated. In the following year the parcel of land on which the building stands was acquired, and a building committee formed. The members, which included Eric E. Soderholtz (a noted local artist), approached architect Fred L. Savage for a design. The dedication was held on August 28th, 1907. The total cost had amounted to $2,520.38, $500 of which was donated in 1908 by Andrew Carnegie.

The West Gouldsboro Village Library remained in operation until 1956, at which time it had 1,700 volumes in its collection. After closing, the building was maintained by the West Gouldsboro Improvement Association. However, on August 28, 1990, eighty-three years after it originally opened, the library was re-established.*

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