THE CUPOLA WINTER 2014

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1 THE CUPOLA WINTER 2014 News of the Pejepscot Historical Society 159 Park Row Brunswick Maine THANK YOU! Thanks to all who have reached out in the aftermath of the burst pipes at the Chamberlain Museum. It is incredibly heartening, at moments like that, to know that PHS has the support, care, and generosity of so many wonderful members and friends. We appreciate it! We appreciate YOU! THE CUPOLA is published by Pejepscot Historical Society, 159 Park Row, Brunswick, ME Follow us on Facebook and Twitter WATER DAMAGES CHAMBERLAIN MUSEUM As we announced in a January 7 to the Pejepscot Historical Society membership, the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum suffered water damage to two of its rooms after water and heating lines burst on January 4. With the extreme cold that hovered over much of the country at the beginning of the year, pipes along the north wall (facing downtown Brunswick) of the Chamberlain Museum froze. These pipes serve two apartments on the second and third floors (the one on the second floor is currently unoccupied and used, in part, as a museum exhibit room). A remediation team was on site from the day of the water damage through the following week. The plaster ceilings in the parlor and dining room came down, as did the parlor side of the curved wall that the parlor and dining room share. The remediation team was able to dry out the remaining walls and floors sufficiently that no removal was required. Now that the situation is stable, we have turned our attention to repair and restoration. We will need to put up new plaster ceilings and walls, then replace the ceiling wallpaper in the dining room and the painted border and medallion in the parlor. Curved parlor wall and ceiling, stripped of damaged plaster. The only other artifacts that were damaged were the upholstered pieces in the parlor and the upholstered dining room chairs. We are working with a conservator to save these items. We expect our insurance to cover most of our damages, but we have also been grateful to receive gifts from friends who understand the need to shore up the Chamberlain Museum and prevent future disasters like this one from happening. If you would like to make a gift toward the maintenance and preservation of the Chamberlain Museum, please call us at or send your donation to Pejepscot Historical Society, 159 Park Row, Brunswick, Maine More images of the water damage on page 3. WINTER 2014 Serving Brunswick, Harpswell, and Topsham since 1888 the cupola

2 FROM THE DIRECTOR Ever since I took the job as director of PHS in early 2012, I have been dreading the sight that met my eyes early on Saturday, January 4: water pouring from a ceiling, artifacts that should never know moisture receiving a good dumping, chunks of nineteenth-century plaster formerly several feet above my head now lying at my feet. PHS is in the old building business. And sometimes especially in the middle of a polar vortex the pipes in old buildings burst. The sight I d been dreading was before me in the parlor of the Chamberlain Museum on January 4, and I ll never forget it, but I ll also never forget the sight of the same room just 45 minutes later, when it was bustling with a group of incredible helpers responding to the call for assistance. The view before me went quickly from awful to awesome. I spent the first moments in the house alone, calling for help, moving furniture, and trying to catch water all at once. But before I knew it, I was surrounded with PHS staff and volunteers who came instantly when called, able and willing to do whatever was necessary to save the Chamberlain Museum from further damage. Anyone who knows anything about PHS won t be surprised by this response. We are rich, in this organization, in people who give selflessly for the good of our properties and our programs. But the names of those present on the scene that awful morning of January 4 should be known to and noted by all so please join me in gratitude to Elizabeth Swasey, Rebecca Roche, Carolyn Earnest, Benet Pols, Dana Smith, and Ollie Smith. We re already well on the mend from the events of January 4. Remediation work is complete and careful planning is underway to ensure we repair the Chamberlains home in the best way possible. We will keep you posted throughout the process, and we thank you, as always, for making our work possible. SAVE THE DATE: PHS ANNUAL MEETING Jennifer Blanchard Invitations will arrive in your mailboxes soon, but mark your calendars now for the 2014 Pejepscot Historical Society annual meeting on Thursday, March 20 at 5 p.m. We will be gathering in the Cram Alumni House Barn at Bowdoin College to elect new trustees, review 2013, and look ahead together. Our guest speaker will be Jessica Routhier, president of Maine Archives and Museums. See you there! 2014 PHS BOARD OF TRUSTEES Carolyn Earnest President Cathy Leonard First Vice President Ann Frey Treasurer Marnee Small Past President Troy Ancona Mike Baribeau Spike Haible Rob Jarratt Benet Pols Patrick Rael Dana Smith June Vail Please patronize our 2014 corporate members: The Great Impasta Morton Real Estate Riley Insurance Agency Sitelines P.A. 2 The Cupola Serving Brunswick, Harpswell, and Topsham since 1888 WINTER 2014

3 CHAMBERLAIN MUSEUM IMAGES Water Damage, January 2014 Dining Room Plastic in curvy room protects rest of museum from dust Parlor Most damaged item: parlor chair WINTER 2014 Serving Brunswick, Harpswell, and Topsham since 1888 the cupola 3

4 4 The Cupola Serving Brunswick, Harpswell, and Topsham since 1888 WINTER 2014

5 ARMCHAIR TOURING: PEJEPSCOT S 1980s ARCHITECTURAL SURVEY CARDS Our cherished Pejepscot Historical Society owns and preserves for the public benefit many intriguing Maine things of great rarity and antiquity. Yet some popular items, though valuable, are not that old. Consider the architectural survey cards that were prepared in the early 1980s, when the late Elizabeth (Bette) Copeland was executive director. At that time, with support from the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, PHS undertook to conduct detailed historical research of a great many standing structures in Brunswick and Harpswell. Sally Rand, then of Cundy s Harbor, was engaged to oversee the Harpswell research, while I, residing in Brunswick and Portland, was hired to coordinate the Brunswick survey. William (Bill) Koechling and Jim Schimmer, then a student in Pennsylvania, were hired to assist Sally with her Harpswell portion of the project, while Janice Skillings of Bailey Island helped prepare cards as well. The main goal was to prepare one concise 8.5 x 5.5 inch card for each standing historic structure in the towns of Brunswick and Harpswell. The cards would summarize each building s architectural and ownership history, while also including then-current 1980s black-and-white photographs of each house or landmark. To prepare the new cards, information was gathered through oral interviews, deeds, and directory research, as well as map and old newspaper consultation, while many new 35mm photographs were taken, processed, and printed. I distinctly remember the challenge and fun I had while working on the Maine Street, Brunswick portion of the survey. Brunswick s principal boulevard had seen so many changes through the years; photos abounded of still-standing structures and old landmarks that had long ago been removed. To guarantee a more solid understanding of the evolution of each lot that now faced Maine Street, I decided to reproduce our new photos of Brunswick buildings, where possible, directly beside similar photos that had been taken about 1890 by the artist Kate Furbish s brother, John Furbish. By pairing old and new photos side-by-side, we were able to illustrate the dramatic changes that had occurred through the years. Recently I returned to consult the PHS 1980s survey cards to learn more about the old and historic Doughty Store on Orr s Island in Harpswell. I was thrilled to see that Bill Koechling s two photos from 1980 showed old gas pumps (since removed) still in service, and the building when it was in much better shape. By recording features now gone, the 1980s photos had indeed become historic in their own right! What happened to those who worked on the survey so long ago? I married Janice after the survey was completed, and I trained to work as a restoration architect and historian in Salem, MA. Sally is still active as a Maine preservationist. Bill moved to Illinois, and Jim to Ohio. The cards we all prepared survive in fine shape, and may be freely consulted whenever PHS is open. For further information, feel free to contact me at Thank you! ~John Goff WINTER 2014 Serving Brunswick, Harpswell, and Topsham since 1888 the cupola 5

6 TALES FROM THE PHS ARCHIVES JOSHUA CHAMBERLAIN S DRINKING HORN Take a careful look at the photograph below of the front hallway at the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum. Through the doorway and into the next room you ll see a crescent-shaped object outlined in the bright light of the window. Thanks to the 1907 Lewiston Sun Journal article that describes the house and its contents, we know what this strange figure is: Here are many interesting relics not least of which is a huge drinking horn that has come down thru a princely Swedish family from the days of the old Norse sea kings. It was obtained for General Chamberlain by Hon. W. W. Thomas while minister to that county, and in grateful remembrance of college days when the general was his instructor in the old Scandinavian languages. The horn now rests on a rare old cabinet and is a mute reminder of Viking revelry. But there is more to the story of Chamberlain s drinking horn than merely that of a gift from a former student to a teacher. The artifact also tells the story of Maine s late-nineteenth-century population drain and a group of hearty Swedes who took up the state s challenge to combat the problem. William Widgery Thomas was appointed U.S. Consul to Sweden in He quickly picked up the Swedish language and developed a life-long appreciation for the country s culture and especially for its people (indeed, both of his wives were Swedish). Believing that their work ethic would be a boon for the U.S., Thomas encouraged thousands of Scandinavian men, women, and children to immigrate. By 1870, back in Maine and serving as a member of the state immigration commission, Thomas proposed a bold plan: to entice a group of Swedes to establish a new colony in Maine by offering them free homes and land if William Widgery Thomas they paid their own passage across the Atlantic and worked the land for five years. Thomas s bold plan needed support. Then-governor Joshua Chamberlain was concerned about the population drain of Maine s youth to the American West. Maine was one of only two states (the other being New Hampshire) that fell in total population between 1860 and Not surprisingly, then, Chamberlain fully embraced Thomas s scheme, and the bill passed the state legislature. On July 23, 1873 a group of 50 Swedes arrived in what they later named New Sweden and by 1895 Thomas estimated that 3,000 Swedes has settled in Maine thanks to the initial colony. To commemorate the arrival of the first 50 Swedes, Thomas had a drinking horn inscribed in Swedish and presented to Chamberlain, who displayed it in his home and passed it on through his family. (The drinking horn is now in a private collection.) William Widgery Thomas continued to be involved in Maine and Swedish politics for the rest of his life, and in 1919 he donated the Thomas Memorial Library to Cape Elizabeth. He died in 1927 and is buried in Portland. ~Rebecca Roche 6 The Cupola Serving Brunswick, Harpswell, and Topsham since 1888 WINTER 2014

7 BECOME A PHS TOUR GUIDE As we noted in the last issue of The Cupola, Pejepscot Historical Society needs a few good women and men to join us as tour guides at the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum and the Skolfield-Whittier Museum. All it takes is a little training and a couple hours a week through the May October museum season. SANTA DAY FUN On December 7, we welcomed about 50 youngsters and their families to the Skolfield-Whittier House parlor for a visit with Santa Claus. This year s event was made extra joyful by the new heating system, which warmed the whole house for the first time in decades, and by Bowdoin College s Miscellania, who filled the house with seasonal music. Next door at PHS, George Tetu s stained glass village delighted visitors of all ages. As long as you re cheerful, interested in meeting new people, and excited to show off the treasures that are our two house museums, we would love to bring you onboard as part of our amazing volunteer tour guide corps. We will give you all the tools you need to conduct engaging, informative, and enjoyable tours for the thousands of visitors who stop by the Chamberlain Museum and Skolfield-Whittier House each year. In 2014, we are hoping to build our tour guide corps enough so that we can cut shifts from three hours to two, meaning each guide would have to do, at most, two tours per day. We welcome volunteers who want to sign up for one shift per week as well as those who like to work two or even three days per week. It s up to you and it s loads of fun! Please call us today at to discuss becoming a tour guide for the 2014 museum season. HELP US WITH OUR NEXT EXHIBIT We are in the process of developing a new exhibit for spring 2014 that will focus on the local mills and the French-Canadians who migrated to the Brunswick area to work in the mills. We have quite a few artifacts in our collection to use in this exhibit, but we would love to know what treasures you have that you d be willing to share from this aspect of local history. If you have artifacts or images related to the mills or the settlement of French-Canadians in the Brunswick area, please give us a call at WINTER 2014 Serving Brunswick, Harpswell, and Topsham since 1888 the cupola 7

8 Non-Profit Org. US Postage PAID Brunswick, ME Permit #31 RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED MEMBERSHIP MATTERS! Membership support makes all the difference to Pejepscot Historical Society. All membership levels provide a calendar year of : Free admission to all PHS museums Invitations to preview exhibitions and to Newsletter subscription and e-news select events and programs 10% discount at museum stores Higher contribution levels receive additional benefits. I would like to become a member of Pejepscot Historical Society at the following level (circle one): Individual $35 Sustaining $200 $299 Household $50 Preserving $300 $499 Supporting $100 $199 Pejepscot Proprietor $500 and above Name Mailing Address Street City State Zip Telephone Please mail your check to Pejepscot Historical Society, 159 Park Row, Brunswick, ME 04011, or call to charge your dues payment to your credit card. Thank you!

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