Kennebunkport – what an unusual name for a town!
According to the town’s historical society the name is of Native American origin. It translates from kini-banek “long cut bank,” and refers to the “Great Hill” or a grassy high cliff projecting into a large body of water.
Located on the southern coast of Maine, about twenty five miles below Portland, it is 88 miles from Boston, 298 miles from New York and 188 miles from Hartford.
History tells us that at least five centuries before the first Europeans arrived here, and perhaps even thousands of years earlier, Native Americans inhabited Kennebunkport.
In 1630, it was called Cape Porpus (Porpoise), and in 1719, it was changed to Arundel. Finally, in 1820, when the town was a very busy port playing a pivotal role in the maritime industry second only to Portland, it became known as Kennebunkport.
Prosperous sea captains, merchants and shipbuilders vastly contributed to the town’s fortunes, and were instrumental in building some of the prettiest homes and churches in the region. They also were influential in creating one of the wealthiest villages in the state.
Seizing the many opportunities, the Europeans believed that the new world was only an extension of their old homeland. Consequently, the homes they built, the communities that evolved and the names they gave to the various villages and towns only reflected their own cultural heritage.
Today, you can still view some of these Colonial residences if you meander along the tree-lined streets that surround Dock Square in the center of its historic district.
When the shipbuilding era ended in the 19th century, the age of the summer visitor followed. During the latter part of the 1800s the idyllic and romantic image of Maine with its rugged and scenic beauty played an immense role in attracting Kennebunkport’s earliest summer visitors.
The Boston and Maine Railroad transported several thousand-summer visitors to Kennebunk, where a station had been established. In 1900 the Atlantic Shore Line trolley system was constructed carrying visitors to their various destinations and making access easy. Interesting to note is that Maine’s publicity slogan, “Vacationland,” can be traced to the publicists of the Maine Central Railroad in the late 1890s.
These summer visitors, as do the visitors of today, enjoyed the various beaches located in and around Kennebunkport, such as Gooch’s Beach, Goose Rocks Beach, Mother’s Beach and Middle Beach.
It was fishing that attracted the earliest settlers, and this attraction has continued today, as the excellent fishing spots located in and around Kennebunkport lure many a traveler. Only minutes away is Cape Porpoise, where you can watch lobster fishermen unloading their catch for the day and even purchase all the fresh lobster you can eat right out of the traps.
One of the most popular attractions of this seafaring town is a drive along Ocean Avenue, where you can participate with many others in Bush-watching. The 11-acre estate of former President George Bush and his wife, Barbara, is located on Walker’s Point overlooking the ocean.
How about experiencing an old fashion trolley ride? Check out the Seashore Trolley Museum, where you will be able to catch one of these rides.
Take a scenic cruise down the Kennebunk River for a romantic jaunt. There are also the many art galleries to explore, guided kayak tours, whale watching and nature charters, the Kennebunkport Brewery, and summer theatre in and around Kennebunkport.
In Kennebunk just minutes away from Kennebunkport you will find the most photographed home in Maine, the Wedding Cake House.
Once you have explored this charming little town, you may want to experience a dining establishment that according to its owner, Denise Rubin, “is not only a feast for the palate, but also a feast for the eyes.” And that it is.
On The Marsh, located in a restored farmhouse and barn on three acres of tidal marsh, has been named for the past two years by People’s Choice as the most romantic restaurant. It has also been honored with the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for superb cuisine, wine cellar and ambiance in 2003. If you have a glance at its European country classic cuisine you can well understand the magic quality that makes discriminating diners zero in on this restaurant.
As soon as you step into the front door you are amazed at how a dilapidated building, previously known as the Salt Marsh Tavern, had been transformed into a first class dining establishment by its owner Denise Rubin. In one word it can only be described as “magnifique.”
Rubin, with a keen eye and a very vivid imagination, realized the potential of having a restaurant overlooking marshes, where tiny white lights adorning the property’s cedar and pine trees, would be nothing less than stunning. What caught my wife’s artistic eye was Rubin’s knack of incorporating a Harlequin touch in the restaurant’s décor, such as the black and white diamond table clothes, and some of the collection of art, antiques, furnishings and collectables. Apparently all of these items are ever changing, and all are available for purchase.
Add an elegant and exciting menu together with an outstanding wine cellar, and you have an unbelievable romantic ambience. For that special romantic rendezvous you can even request to be seated at a table hidden away in an alcove, where many a wedding proposal has transpired.
On the other hand, if you are curious about what goes on behind the scenes, the restaurant’s staff will set you up in the kitchen, where you can experience how one of the finest chefs and his staff carry out their culinary skills.
There is also the owner’s table where the chef will prepare a special menu for you including the opportunity to savor various wines from their extensive collection.
What makes On The Marsh one of the most outstanding restaurants in the State of Maine is its creative dishes and perfect presentation. This was quite evident when we had the opportunity to sample some of the Sushi Entrees followed by the house salad of assorted greens and crisp romaine marinated red onions, and grape tomatoes. The principal entrée consisted of the potato and basil crusted Atlantic Salmon Filet, horseradish-thyme beurre blanc, crushed Yukon Gold potatoes. The pièce de resistance was the trio of crème brulée and the lemon cheesecake.
There is no doubt that anyone who has had the opportunity to experience this fine restaurant will return time and time again.