“There’s no place like home!”
Cape Island, (called Witch Island by locals on the tip of Cape Newagen, Maine), was exactly that to a single mother, kindergarten teacher/educational advocate and actress. You may recognize her better for her 12 minutes of fame in the iconic movie, The Wizard of Oz with quotes such as “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!” or “ARRRRRGH! — YOU CURSED BRAT! LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE! I’m MELTING! Melting! Oh — what a world, what a world! Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?! ARRRRRGH! I’m gone! I’m gone! I’m going!” Yes, the Wicked Witch of the West, Margaret Hamilton lived here! Watch clip here.
In 1961, while performing summer theater in Brunswick, Maine, Margaret Hamilton (1902-1985) heard about some lighthouses that were being sold by the Coast Guard along the coast of Maine and thought she might like to own a lighthouse. One such lighthouse was Hendrick’s Head Lighthouse on Southport Island just outside of Boothbay Harbor. Although a lighthouse was not in the cards for Hamilton, she ended up with an entire island with a house built in 1852 and a fabulous view of Cuckolds Lighthouse, now known as Inn as Cuckolds Lighthouse.
She and her son, Hamilton Meserve, pooled their savings and purchased the island which is 10 acres at high tide and 20 at low tide. Hamilton took up summer residency on the island in her 60s and was known for rowing herself between the mainland and the island! Her son and his wife settled in Newagen in a house with a view of Cape Island, which still remains in the family for their children and grandchildren to continue to enjoy.
On Friday, December 7th, Snowlion Repertory Theater of Portland presented a staged reading of a new play, still in development, about Hamilton’s life. “My Witch: The Margaret Hamilton Stories” will tell of her love affair with Maine, her commitment to her craft and her struggle to balance her career with her responsibilities as a single mother. Read about the play here.
So, take a drive to the town landing on Southport Island, stand on the dock, close your eyes and click your heels three times and say, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!” When you open your eyes you won’t be standing in your ruby slippers in Oz, but you will see the ruby red house that was so loved by Margaret Hamilton. There may not be any flying monkeys or Skywriting, but if you try really hard you may just feel the kind-hearted spirit of a woman who loved acting, children and her island life on the coast of Maine.