The origins of the Church of All Saints by-the-Sea go back well over a century. The Reverend John Thomas Magrath, an 1862 Bowdoin graduate, became the rector of Christ Church in Gardiner, Maine from 1866 to 1869. He then ministered to congregations in Michigan, Philadelphia, and Boston.
While in Gardiner, he and members of his congregation would come to Pig Island (now Capitol Island) on picnics. Mr. Magrath noticed a green hayfield on the east shore of Southport and his family acquired this small saltwater farm. A summer cottage was built in the early 1870s. Since there was no Episcopal Church accessible to the vacationers, the congregation of All Saints by-the-Sea came into being under the leadership of Mr. Magrath. Services were held under the oak trees surrounding the hayfield or in the cottage living room if the weather was bad.
In the 1870’s, Miss Mary Williamson, a member of the Gardiner congregation who had come on many picnics, purchased land to the south of the Magrath farm. She donated part of this land for the building of a church.
In 1905, the present church was erected. The architect, Mr. Albert Hall, donated his services, and the construction was done by Captain Charles Gray, a neighbor. The church was consecrated in July of 1906 by The Right Reverend Robert Codman, Bishop of Maine.
Rev. Magrath continued to be in charge of the church until his death in 1908. Subsequently, clergy from all over the country have officiated and All Saints by-the-Sea has been fortunate to attract many fine preachers to its pulpit.
While not a parish church in the ordinary sense, neither is All Saints by-the-Sea a Diocesan Mission. It remains essentially a congregation of residents and summer visitors who share its services and give it their support. Its island location and approach by water have endeared the church to many and have made it an important part of the region’s summer life. Over the years, All Saints has become a spiritual summer home of hundreds of worshippers of all denominations in the Boothbay area.