Friends of Swan Island

Contact Information
Bruce Trembly


Swan Island
• late 1600's - early 1700's - first white settlers - population increased over time to a peak of just under 100 - economic activities included ship building, ice making, farming, fishing, and brick making
• originally part of Dresden, the island seceded in 1847 to become it’s own town - Perkins Township - by 1917, population had decreased to the point where the town became an unorganized plantation
• 1936 - bridge constructed between Dresden and Richmond, ending the ferry service that had included Swan Island
• 1940's - 1960's - IF&W acquires island piece by piece through purchase and eminent domain and establishes a Wildlife Management Area - some work is done to stabilize the 2 oldest houses
• Visitor services created for day trips and overnight camping, including the building of lean-tos, fireplaces and restrooms - island access is by reservation only w/ transportation provided by IF&W
• 1995 - state performs archaeological digs at several island sites - island is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Swan Island Historic District
• 2000 - A Master Plan for Swan Island prepared by Mohr & Seredin Landscape Architects recommending that the state “develop and encourage public use of Swan Island as an education center”
• 2001 - Swan Island listed by Maine Historic Preservation on its Most Endangered Historic Properties list, where it remains today
• Swan Island Project - 2 teachers in the Richmond school system develop a program that allows on island study based at the Lilly-Wade house in exchange for repairing the house - the exterior was 90% repaired, including new roof and sills - in 1998, the Richmond Middle School won a Maine Exemplary Science Award - by 2004 the program had ended, and nature is starting to take the house back
• 2002 - Friends of Swan Island is formed with the goal of saving and stabilizing the 6 houses remaining on the island - a few dedicated volunteers have put in a lot of time and effort including scraping & painting, cleaning, carpentry, roofing, dock & float maintenance, tour guiding, fund raising and community outreach - 3 houses (plus the Lilly-Wade house mentioned above) are well under way to being stable for some time, one house is most likely not salvageable as is (though with a lot of money it could be dismantled & rebuilt), the 6th house is lived in during the summer by the IF&W staff
• 2008 - Limited day trips and camping. Due to expected budget cuts and that Swan Island is a financial burden to the IF&W, the the future of the island remains uncertain