People watch the crashing surf at Willard Beach on Saturday as debris from the iconic fishing shacks washes up onto Myrtle Avenue. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

SOUTH PORTLAND — At the end of Myrtle Avenue, adjacent to Willard Beach, neighbors had gathered Sunday and were studying a pile of debris, broken wooden boards mixed with seaweed.

The wood was all that was left of three historic fishing shacks from nearby Fisherman’s Point that were washed away during Saturday’s storm and astronomical high tide.

Some people picked up and held the smashed boards. They were a reminder that the shacks, which had stood on the rocky point at the end of Deake Street for more than a century, were gone.

Two shacks on Fisherman’s Point in South Portland were swept into Casco Bay during a powerful storm Saturday. Photo by Ben Tero @bterophoto

Billie Sweeney came out Sunday to watch the sunrise and gaze at Fisherman’s Point. The benches, which are bolted down into rocks, are still there. Still a beautiful scene, but now barren. “It’s different today,” she said.

Her husband, Kevin, said Saturday’s storm and historic high tide pushed Casco Bay waters past the beach and up their street. They have lived since 1987 on Myrtle Avenue, but away from the beach and on higher ground. “We dodged the bullet,” he said. “This was the biggest storm I’ve seen. The velocity and the size of the waves were huge.”

Neighbor Brenda Peluso said she’s organizing an informal group on Facebook and asking for volunteers to help clean the beach.


Like Sweeney, Peluso is sad about losing the historic shacks. “I was here in ’78 when the first two (of five) went” in a huge storm.

Two shacks on Fisherman’s Point in South Portland in 1975. Portland Press Herald file

While residents mourn the loss, the South Portland Historical Society wasted no time in announcing an effort to rebuild the structures.

The historical society said in a Facebook post that it is launching a campaign to raise the funds needed to build historically accurate reproductions of the shacks. In 2022, the historical society enlisted the help of SMRT Architects and Engineers to create architectural drawings and take 360-degree photographs of the fishing shacks in case they ever washed away in a storm and needed to be rebuilt.

Last fall, the city repainted and repaired the shacks as part of an ongoing effort to preserve the landmarks.

The shacks’ location on Fisherman’s Point, which juts out from the south end of Willard Beach into Simonton Cove, subjects them to weather-related damage and they had always needed regular maintenance.

The Willard Beach neighborhood and Simonton Cove have a long fishing history. In the 1870s and 1880s, there were anywhere from 10 to 15 fishing schooners based out of Simonton Cove, according to a story in The Forecaster. The fishing shacks were originally built along the shore, but after a resident bought land along the beach in the early 1880s, most fishermen moved their shacks to Fisherman’s Point.

After a few years, most of the shacks were lost to either vandalism or storms. Five remained standing until the February storm of 1978.

Only three shacks remained – until Saturday’s storm washed them away.

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