Winter Harbor Resident Captures Island Life through Writing and Paintings

Bill Holden decided at an early age that he was going to make as much money as he could, as quickly as he could, and then get on with what he considered to be the most important part of his life.

He says the impetus came from watching his father, a stockbroker who commuted two and a half hours every day from their home in Ossining to Manhattan, and his mother, a homemaker, submerge their creative selves in order to secure their children’s futures.

Holden, who lives year-round in Winter Harbor, was determined to do the same, but at a much earlier age. So, after snagging his MBA at Harvard Business School, Holden dove into the world of deals and investments and at the age of 43 retired.

Over the next several years he went down many paths — farming, writing, photography and painting.
During this time of self-exploration he also saw another dream come true. A phone call from a friend alerted him that the Winter Harbor lighthouse on Mark Island was on the market.

Holden bought the lighthouse and lived part of the year there for a decade.

His latest book, “Songs of a Dreamer: AKA Lighthouse Diaries,” contains his journal entries, photos, and paintings from that period. Holden hopes to publish the 275-page book at some point, but in the meantime it is available to readers online at

The lighthouse was built in 1856. Over the years nine keepers and their families lived there until it was discontinued in 1933 and replaced by a lighted buoy.

Holden’s decision to sell the lighthouse to a New York architect after 10 years was difficult, but he felt he couldn’t keep up with the work.

As far as another adventure, for now he is content to work on the two unfinished novels and his painting.


For more arts stories, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.


Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]