Stuffed Animarium
Stuffed menagerie at Perry's -- early 1990s.

Perry's Nut House

Field review by the editors.

Belfast, Maine

"Historic nut and animal exhibits," trumpeted the tourist literature for Perry's Tropical Nut House in Belfast. "Visited and exclaimed over by thousands." Perry's had been around since 1927 -- it closed in 1997 (a Perry's under new management opened in 1998). The place was packed with Canadians when we visited in the early '90s, and was a popular spot for tourists of all nations to hide from Maine weather.

Man Killer Clam.

The big draw of Perry's Tropical Nut House was its display of stuffed dead animals, which were slowly falling apart on the second floor. Some of the animals' ears had been ripped off, others had patches of fur torn away or faces that have been smashed and badly reconstructed.

The animals stood shoulder-to-shoulder-- goats, bears, lions, monkeys, seals -- in frozen chaos. Tourists gawked from behind a rail, but at what? Perry's was too cheap to put up signs identifying the animals, so no one really knew. Index cards taped to the rail at one time explained what each animal was, but only three had survived the constant wear and tear of oily hands and syrup-sticky Canadian fingers. Barely discernible brown photographs lined the walls, offering a faded view of what Perry's used to look like when the animals were more recently dead. The glass display cases beneath them were filled with empty cardboard boxes.

Downstairs, perched atop the bins selling Perry's souvenir seahorse water pistols and switchblade pocket combs, were displays such as a "man killer clam" (a sign explains that it only killed men, it didn't eat them) and two tiny baby bear cubs, stuffed, wearing boxing gloves.

Update: Perry's has been slowly adding items of interest (to us). The latest we heard about is "Jay" the Forgotten Mummy, with a back-story of being taken from Egypt as a souvenir by aristocrats so that they could throw fashionable Mummy Parties. Becoming an unwanted family heirloom, the last owner of the mummy decided it would be better suited as a display at Perry's Nut House. The last recorded sighting of Perry's famous "Hugged by a Maine Bear" photo-op was in late 2009. It is now gone; Perry's owners say it had become too dangerous to sit on.

Perry's Nut House

Address:
45 Searsport Ave., Belfast, ME
Directions:
On the south side of US Hwy 1/Searsport Ave. less than a mile west of the Belfast bridge.
Hours:
Summer daily 10 am - 6 pm. Shorter hours spring and fall. (Call to verify)
Phone:
207-338-1630
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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