In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Surry by the Bay

Spectacular Landscape, Spirited People

Late Twentieth Century

Scenic view of Patten Bay, Surry, ca. 1960
Scenic view of Patten Bay, Surry, ca. 1960

Item Contributed by
Surry Historical Society


By 1950, Surry's population had dropped to 448, its lowest level ever. Many residents continued to make their livings from the sea and from the land, and some of them worked at the paper mill in Bucksport. “Summer people” in Surry and in Blue Hill provided seasonal employment to a number of Surry people as well.

In the 1960s, increasing numbers of tourists headed to newly designated “Vacationland,” where they enjoyed Maine's forests, mountains, and vast coastline. Many of these visitors headed “downeast” towards Acadia National Park on Mount Desert Island; some of them discovered Surry during their travels and several of them purchased summer cottages or retirement homes along the ponds and bay.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Ellsworth's commercial development provided employment opportunities for many of its Surry neighbors. Various cottage industries sprang up around the town, residential development expanded, and the “Back to the Land” movement brought some newcomers to the area, including Zen Buddhists, some of whom founded the Surry Opera Company.

Throughout this expansion, Surry remained relatively undeveloped and managed to maintain its rural scenic identity as it strengthened its infrastructure. For several years in the 1980s, Surry's Volunteer Police Force, complete with cruiser, uniforms and badges, patrolled the town. A town civic center was built in 1980, and six years later the Surry Elementary School, which replaced the Claude L. Bonsey School, was attached to the civic center.

Veterans Memorial Park Dedication

By the mid 1980s, a municipal office and fire department had been built near the school and after that, the town continued to invest in programs and facilities to benefit their citizens, including the athletic field and trail built on the Osgood lot behind the municipal building and the Veterans Memorial Park in the village, dedicated in 2006.