Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson here. Not far from my home in western Maine is the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center, a working farm where visitors of all ages can experience what life was like in the nineteenth century. They can stay for an hour or two or participate in a live-in. School programs run regularly during the school year, giving young people the chance to take on the roles of farm children in a simpler time. The library is available to researchers writing about the period. Classes are taught in the one-room schoolhouse.
For many years, the historic buildings on this property, formerly the home of the Washburn family, consisted of a 1867 mansion, a farmer’s cottage, a 1883 library, a 1828 meeting house, and a 1853 schoolhouse. Following standard practice here in Maine, where you do not want to have to go outside in winter just to feed the animals, an ell connected the mansion to the barn. On April 28, 2008, a fire broke out in that barn. Only extensive pre-planning on the part of local fire departments prevented a worse disaster, but both the barn and the farmer’s cottage were destroyed.
There was never any question that what had been lost would be rebuilt. What took time was raising enough money for the project and finding the right people to create an accurate reproduction of what had existed in the nineteenth century. The farmer’s cottage was rebuilt in 2011. In late May of this year, work started on the barn. At the official barn-raising ceremonies, a number of the pegs to be used in the construction were pounded in by Norlands personnel, most of whom are volunteers.
Pictures, as they say, sometimes speak louder than words. In addition to the ones here, you can see more, and videos, at the Norlands facebook page
Fundraising continues, not only to rebuild the barn but also to continue the wonderful programs Norlands offers. This coming weekend, June 13 and 14, is the 5th Rally for Norlands, a Civil War Reenactment Weekend. This event features reenactors from Norlands and from the 3rd Maine Co. A and the 15th Alabama Co. G, as well as period crafters and exhibitors. There will be civilian and infantry encampments, a Civil War battle, a field hospital, field music, a blacksmith, a 19th century fashion show, storytelling, and a Town Ball game (the forerunner of baseball), plus all the permanent attractions of the living history center. Gates open at 9AM at 290 Norlands Road, Livermore, Maine 04253. For more information, the website is http://www.norlands.org