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Updated: October 2, 2023

After Port Clyde fire, Linda Bean vows to rebuild

Facebook / Dick Nixon The aftermath of the fire on the Port Clyde waterfront, showing the Port Clyde General Store and, at left, Linda Bean's Maine Wyeth Art Gallery.

Days after a waterfront fire that destroyed the Port Clyde General Store and adjacent Maine Wyeth Art Gallery, the owner of both vowed to rebuild. 

Linda Bean, the properties' owner for 16 years, said in a statement late Friday: "My hope is to restore the premises and resume its businesses and jobs there as fully and as soon as possible."  

Bean cited the "emotional" loss to the community not only of the General Store complex but the adjacent Dip Net restaurant and the Monhegan Boat Line's Port Clyde terminal, which were also destroyed.

"We are deeply affected by the impact of this fire on our village businesses and those of the Monhegan Boat Line next door. We thank all whose hearts, minds and prayers are with us. We hope to learn more each hour about what can be done to get up and running as soon as possible, and we will work toward getting all the help we’ll need to accomplish that goal," Bean said. 

In a Facebook post, the Dip Net also said it hoped "to rebuild and start over."

"Our hearts are broken for all," the restaurant posted on Facebook. "Thank you for the tremendous efforts and actions taken by our local and surrounding fire fighters to stop this fire and to save what they could. We are so thankful that no lives were taken and no one was hurt. We hope to rebuild and start over.

"This is more than just a business to us it is our community, our second home and will always be huge part of our lives and hearts. Thank you for all of the support, help and love offered and shared. So blessed to be part of such a great community. We are Port Clyde strong."

The Monhegan Boat Line said it continued regular service to the island. The business, which provides regular mailboat and passenger service to the island of Monhegan, posted this on Facebook:

"We could not let this day end without expressing our gratitude for all the help and support we received from our community today — I think it was Mr. Rogers who said when bad things happened to 'look for the helpers' and they were there in spades today. Seriously, the Port Clyde community and our family was there to pitch in and to help.

"We are resilient and we will carry on, but we honestly could not do it without all the help and support. We are so sad for everyone that was affected by this horrible event but on the other hand we are humbled and filled with gratitude for all the ways we were given and offered help. Thank you."

No one injured

The fire started at 10:38 p.m. Wednesday and raged well into Thursday morning. The shells of the General Store building and ferry terminal were still standing after the fire, but the Dip Net restaurant, on the pier, "collapsed into the ocean," Bean said. 

Facebook / Dick Nixon
Firefighters were still stationed outside the Monhegan Boat Line terminal on Thursday morning.

No one was injured in the blaze. Tenants in apartments above the general store escaped with just the clothes on their back. 

A cause of the fire has not been determined. 

Firefighters from throughout the midcoast responded. 

"We are grateful to the Saint George Fire Department that arrived quickly and mobilized additional assistance from fire fighters and equipment that rushed here from Rockland, Owls Head, Cushing, Thomaston, South Thomaston, Warren Rockport with additional calls for help from Waldoboro, Friendship and Hope," Bean said. "We do not know how the fire started. We will rely on forensic investigators to learn more."

"The fire was so hot and uncontrollable that nobody was allowed inside the General Store to save anything. As its owner for the last 16 years, I have tried to respect and reflect the long history of its owners, managers, and customers — a good many of whom are in tears today," Bean said.  

Bean did not say how many employees were affected by the loss of her businesses. She said Veronika Carlson, president of Linda Bean's Perfect Maine Hospitality LLC, "is working tirelessly to address their needs as immediately as we can."

Carlson also worked with the residential tenants from above the store. They were helped with both housing and in buying new clothes from L.L.Bean and other retailers. 

Community members chipped in cash to help the residential tenants.  

Wyeth losses

At the gallery, Bean said three original paintings by Jamie Wyeth were lost in the fire. 

Bean also said that an N.C. Wyeth illustration, recently acquired by the N.C. Wyeth Research Foundation and Reading Libraries, was also destroyed. It was a frontispiece illustration for an edition of Henry David Thoreau's "Men of Concord."

Wyeth books, prints, photographs, original paintings and memorabilia, all intended to support the educational work of the nonprofit, were also lost.

The Wyeth family had a longstanding connection to Port Clyde, Monhegan and the midcoast. Three generations were known for their work here. N.C. Wyeth (1882-1945) had a home in Port Clyde, known as "Eight Bells," which stands just up the hill from the General Store and the waterfront. His son Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) may be best known for his painting "Christina's World," which was based on the Olson house in nearby Cushing. And N.C. Wyeth's grandson Jamie, now 77, has a house on Monhegan.

The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland has an extensive collection of art from three generations of Wyeths; with the Brandywine Museum in Chadds Ford, Pa., it has access to more than 7,000 Wyeth works, according to the Farnsworth website.

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