Peter Stowell has put his interest in local history to good use with his new book of vintage photos, “Images of America: Old Town.”
“Images of America: Old Town” is published by Arcadia Publishing & History press, whose familiar sepia-covered pictorial histories have fascinated readers across the country. Stowell’s offering continues that tradition, with photos spanning Old Town’s history. There are photos of subjects that one still commonly associates with the city – canoes and the mills, for instance – and then there are things lost gone, such as the liveries and trolley cars. There are also lots of photos of folks from days gone by that will be sure to have readers looking to see who they might know.
It was a lot of work for Stowell, but it was a task with which he was familiar: native of western Maine and had previously authored “Images of America – Dixfield” for Arcadia Publishing. However, Old Town, Maine was his home for four years as he graduated from the nearby University of Maine with a degree in political science. He soon obtained his master’s degree from Tulane University in New Orleans and pursued a career in public policy on behalf of people with disabilities.
He has always been interested in local history and today expresses that interest by hosting pages of social media that often reach thousands of people every day. He has amassed an image collection of several thousand photos gathered from collections from coast to coast. He also has spoken to several historical societies in Maine.
Stowell said his new book came about in 2015 when a member of the Old Town Museum’s board of directors, who was familiar with his Dixfield book, contacted him to see if he would have any interest in writing a book on Old Town. Stowell agreed, even saying he would do the book, proceeds from which will benefit the museum, for free.
“It was a labor of love,” said Stowell. “I just enjoy researching history, and I opes others will share that interest – that his book will continue to help reawaken civil pride in the city, and that it perhaps can be used as a tool to help in revitalizing Old Town’s economic future.”
Putting the book together was a huge undertaking. Stowell said he worked from a collections of 700 photos from the Old Town Museum, Old Town Public Library, and the Maine Historic Preservation Commission; he culled those down to 210 photos for the book. He also had to research those photos so he could provide detailed information on them; that, he said, included 200 to 300 searches online of issues of the Old Town Enterprise and other newspapers. In at least one case – the first Catholic church on Indian Island – the information dated back as far as 1731.
“I truly love doing the research, although I do have to say there was a time it wasn’t coming together,” said Stowell. “This mindset changed completely just a few pages into the writing of the book. I suddenly found myself enjoying the writing, incorporating my research into the captions, and being able to cross-reference people, places, and events. That was a Eureka moment for me and the rest of the book more or less flowed.”
“Images of America: Old Town” costs $21.99, It will be available at The Penobscot Times as of Feb. 21; it also will be carried by major bookstores, The Old Town Public Library, and the Old Town Museum.
The Old Town Public Library, and the Old Town Museum, will present a pre-publication event on the book at 1 p.m. on the 21st at the Old Town Public Library for an author reception and book signing. Peter will share stories and images of his experience in creating this beautiful book which documents the rich and vibrant heritage of our lovely community.
Dessert and beverages will be served, and books will be available for pre-publication purchase and signing. Be one of the first to hear Stowell’s stories, and to view, and/or purchase this exceptional publication. Space is limited, so please call the library, at 827-3972, to reserve a seat.

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