North Bath history book showcases work of late author

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BATH — For many people, the joy that Nancy Dearborn Lovetere’s longtime labor of love is finally complete is perhaps equal to the sorrow that she isn’t around to see it.

“The Road to Down Street: The Story of North Bath” was released by Yarmouth-based Islandport Press in March, a year and a half after Lovetere’s death at 65 from complications during surgery.

The North Bath native, who also lived in Connecticut and Florida, weaved years of research into a story that reached back to the 17th century, when people with land grants from the king of England settled the rural area. The story also encompasses the farms, blacksmith shops, tanneries, shipyards, mills and intriguing Yankee characters that came along.

A publishing party will be held at Bath City Hall, 55 Front St., from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on June 11.

“Down Street” includes historic photos and U.S. Census records, as well as a detailed examination of North Bath’s five areas: Bayshore Road to New Meadows, Ireland, Merrymeeting Bay, the North Bath Road and Whiskeag.

“Several years ago, research work with two friends made me aware that small settlements surrounding Bath proper had fascinating histories about which little or nothing had been written,” Lovetere wrote in 2008. “Interviews with a number of people reinforced this fact. I became greatly encouraged to compile my research into a collection that could be enjoyed by everyone.”

Lovetere noted that the New England phrase “going down street” meant that a person was going into town. The North Bath Road led to downtown Bath and remains the road to down street, she explained.

She wrote that her book’s title “is a metaphor for all the communities up and down the Kennebec and Androscoggin rivers; once unremarkable, often unnoticed and, until recently, undocumented.”

Lovetere was full of youth, energy and enthusiasm, said Anne Vadakin, a best friend of the marathon-running author. Two weekends before her death Lovetere – a wife, mother and grandmother – placed fourth in her age group in the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10k, Vadakin recalled.

A member of three state societies of Mayflower descendants, Lovetere maintained a lifelong connection to North Bath and still owned her uncle’s home there, across the street from the house where she grew up.

“In researching her book, she dug into the archives, walked the land and talked to everyone she could who had lived there,” Vadakin said. “No one turned her away. Everyone was anxious to talk about their past, or their family or their history.”

Vadakin said her friend wanted the book to serve not just as a source of information but also of inspiration for youths to examine their own histories.

Lovetere submitted her manuscript to Islandport Press in 2008, Vadakin said. The company’s Amy Canfield, who edited the book, said doing so without the author there was difficult. Lovetere was meticulous, “but of course there are questions that arise, and thank God I had Anne,” Canfield said of Vadakin. “Anne was very instrumental in getting this book out.”

Vadakin said Lovetere had been designing a map for a self-guided tour around North Bath, to be used for a directed trolley tour at the time “Down Street” was released.

But the book itself makes for a well-versed guide, an important piece of the legacy Lovetere leaves behind.

“Anybody who’s at all familiar with the area is going to be traveling right along with her,” Canfield said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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Nancy Dearborn Lovetere is the author of “The Road to Down Street: The Story of North Bath,” which has been released after her death.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.