Quoddy Village is almost an island of its own

Most of Eastport’s small population resides in a semicircle around the Breakwater downtown. Quoddy Village stands apart, separated by a narrow neck around Carrying Place Cove. It also fronts Half Moon Cove, with a dead-end road to the former toll-bridge to the mainland. The place feels like an island of its own and is easily overlooked when you drive into town. The highway skirts it, and what you see is mostly former industrial, rusty, and all that.

A former factory looking for new uses gives no clue to passers-by of the residential neighborhood behind it.
Chimneys are all that remain of the administrative headquarters and even a school that supported a federal project in the 1930s.

Until 1935, this was farmland, but then an ambitious but ecologically disastrous public works project took off, one to dam up most of Passamaquoddy and Cobscook bays to transform their vast tidal energy into electricity. A large but confusing working model of the engineering proposal can be viewed at the historical society’s gift shop in downtown Eastport. (The room-size three-dimensional map is water in and water out, mostly. If you don’t already know the area, it’s baffling – and the presentation is aimed at today’s tourists. I still think it would make for a really interesting model railroad layout.) The short-lived boondoggle’s most lasting contribution, apparently, was the causeway connecting Eastport to the mainland by filling in a former railroad line. No more toll bridge and longer loop. Oh, yes, and it also had a noticeable negative impact on the Old Sow, the world’s second-largest whirlpool, perhaps even pushing it more into Canada.

Significantly, the project needed housing for its estimated 5,000 workers, and that led to the construction of Quoddy Village.

Even though the plug was pulled a year later on what would have been the world’s largest tidal dam – it did require Canadian cooperation, among other things – 128 single-family, two-family, and four-family houses had been constructed, along with three large dormitories with dining rooms for single workers, plus a fire station, a hospital, a heating plant, a school, a large mess hall, and a large administration building that included a theatre, library, and sub post office. In other words, a small city unto itself. Even though the homes had been designed as temporary, many of them are still occupied today. Still, for a brief time, the village was home to a thousand people.

More evidence of abandoned projects, also seen from the state highway.

From 1938 to 1943 the National Youth Administration used Quoddy to train 800 city youth a year in vocational trades. It was also a Navy Sea Bee base named Camp Lee-Stephenson during World War II.

And then? It morphed into a residential neighborhood.

Its best-known attraction today is David Oja’s colorful and eccentric Bazaar, a gift shop that includes what’s arguably the best gourmet wine and cheese selection in Washington County. Think of it as a blast of Puerto Rico, Brooklyn, and Provincetown rolled into one. Who knows what the original function of the building was, we can be sure it was not nearly anything like this.

The one-of-a-kind Bazaar, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere.
Today it’s mostly residential. I think of it as a small suburb.
Anyone else see potential here?
Yes, there’s a mix of housing, some of it from the ’30s.
Much of it is also a working neighborhood. I’m all in favor of working from home, when you can.

Is this funky? Or what?

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