Visit Lubec Maine
photo: Pamela Metz

About Machiasport

A Lubec, Maine, neighbor

Machiasport's population was 1,119 at the 2010 census. It is home to the historical sites of Fort O'Brien and the Gates House Museum. The latter is open to the public in summer.

Machiasport is built on a hill and offers spectacular views of Machias Bay. This is where the first naval battle of the Revolution was fought between the British schooner Margaretta and the victorious sloop Unity.

Today, lobster boats bob peacefully in the harbors, and a leisurely drive on Machiasport's winding road takes you past the town's historic Liberty Hall, which served as the town's cultural and community center for more than 100 years. The hall's belvedere was recently restored and replaced, and interior work has begun with the aim of reopening this historic 1873 building for community use. Nearby is the Machiasport Congregational Church, with its Revolutionary War–era cemetery.

Farther down the road, on Howard Bay, is Jasper Beach, where the tides have rounded the edges of millions of stones, most of which consist of a volcanic rock called rhyolite. The colorful, smooth stones make it easy to explore this beautiful crescent of beach, especially at low tide.

In 1633, the Plymouth Company established a trading post here to conduct business with the Native Americans. But this was part of Acadia, territory that New France considered its own, and in 1634, the trading post was sacked by French forces from Port Royal under the command of Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour. In 1770, the area was granted by the Massachusetts General Court to 80 petitioners, 54 from Scarborough. It was first part of Machias, incorporated in 1784, then set off and incorporated as Machiasport in 1826.

In 1775, after the capture of the British ship HMS Margaretta by locals under the leadership of Jeremiah O'Brien, the residents built a small breastworks here to guard the mouth of the Machias River and the area settlements. Later that year, the British sent four ships under the command of Sir George Collier that defeated the local militia, destroyed the breastworks, and burned several buildings. In 1777, the fort was rebuilt as a four-gun battery. In 1781 it was made part of the national defense and named Fort O'Brien. In 1808–1809, Lemuel Trescott of Eastport oversaw the construction of a blockhouse, barracks, and battery. During the War of 1812, the British captured the fort in September 1814 and burned the barracks.

In 1863, during the American Civil War, Fort Machias was built adjacent to the ruins of Fort O'Brien. It was a five-gun earthworks fort with Napoleon 12-pound cannon and was actively manned from 1863 to 1865. In 1923, the U.S. government transferred the sites of both forts to the state of Maine. Since 2006, they have been managed as a historic site by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. (Historical information adapted from Wikipedia)