The beginnings of the Christmas Cove Improvement Association reach back more than a decade before its formal organization in 1900. The first summer visitors, mainly from the Boston area, began coming to Rutherfords Island and Christmas Cove in the early 1880’s, attracted then as now by the beauty of the surroundings and the fresh, cool ocean air.
They did not as yet own cottages and there were not hotels then, so they boarded with some of the families living at the Cove. During the early years, the most convenient approach to Christmas Cove was by water, for although there was rail service to Newcastle, a rough stage ride of sixteen miles still remained before the Cove was reached. Traveling by water from Boston was not uncomplicated either, beginning with an overnight steamer from Boston to Bath, followed by a change at Bath to one of the Eastern Steamship Company’s vessels for Boothbay. A relatively short carriage ride brought the traveling family to East Boothbay, where the final run to Christmas Cove was made by sailboat. The CCIA Casino was built in 1902 and replaced the old Thorpe family fish house just north of the pool dam which had until then been the place for social gathering and religious services. The most popular activities included tennis, swimming, boating, organized social events including entertainment on Wednesdays and Saturday, watching the world and steamboats go by and, of course, evening Vesper services on Sundays. By a few years later, there were many, many hotel rooms at the Cove and families had begun buying cottages.
After the quiet period brought on by the Depression and World War II, another spurt of CCIA growth began. The first CCIA float appeared in 1946, the first sailing races were in 1948, the Junior Program began with tennis and swimming in 1950 and added sailing two years later. Volunteer parents and older children were the initial instructors. As the Program rapidly grew much larger, salaried instructors were hired. Other milestones to appear were the Christmas Cove burgee in 1962 and the first fiberglass CC 21 sailboats in the 70’s. All along, the management, maintenance and growth of the CCIA occupied the time of many volunteers every summer and also in the off-season. It still does.
As Lanny Warner, a long-time summer resident said so well, “what attracted the first comers has continued to attract others. It is the delight of access to Cove and Bay and River, of the sweep of ocean view to the off-shore islands, to Pemaquid Point, and to Monhegan on the horizon. It is the pleasure of having a boat moored close at hand in a safe anchorage; a day of sailing and racing; of swimming for the hardy; of tennis for young and old; and of walking roads and paths. It is the joy of renewing with old friends again after a winter of separation. Finally, it is the casual, low-key tempo of the community that holds us. Let us keep it that way for our children’s children.”
The CCIA Casino was built in 1902 and replaced the old Thorpe family fish house just north of the pool dam which had until then been the place for social gathering and religious services.
Wells, Stan and Ellen. 2000. The Christmas Cove Improvement Association, 1900-2000 – A Centennial History. Christmas Cove Improvement Association.