Crane raised at Maine meeting
On September 26–28, Ellen Gibson hosted the second Northeast regional meeting at the Vaughan Homestead in Hallowell, Maine. About 40 people gathered for a weekend of camping, swapping stories, great food, and exploration of the local sites. Most people arrived on Friday evening to catch up with old friends, make new ones, and enjoy the views of the Kennebec River on a perfect early autumn night.
The events of the weekend began Saturday morning with a talk by Arron Sturgis of Preservation Timber Framing in Berwick, Maine. Arron talked of his experience creating a successful timber framing business in the historic preservation field. Afterward, the group split into four parts so we wouldn’t overcrowd the structures on the tour. The morning portion of the tour was largely within walking distance of the homestead and included:
- The 1794 Vaughan Homestead, an impressive two story hip roofed house with additions and outbuildings.
- Elm Hill Farm, designed in 1799 and built soon after. The house is an unusual Cape with a large entry hall with 11-ft. high vaulted ceilings and an apse-like dining room supported by trusses.
- The 1829 Hallowell fire house.
- The Karasopolous farmstead, in Farmingdale, which features a barn dating to the early 1800s and a rambling farmhouse with a Federal-era core.
We were on our own for lunch, and there was no shortage of tasty food options. The afternoon tour, arranged by Otis Carroll of Pownalborough Restorations LLC, included some unexpected excursions to early barns. Seeing the extra buildings led some of us to finish the tour on Sunday, as there was hardly time to take it all in and make it back for Saturday’s dinner. It was well worth every minute! The sites in nearby Dresden and Wiscasset included:
- The Pownalborough Courthouse (1761). This massive three story, hip roofed building on the banks of the Kennebec River is the only pre-revolutionary courthouse in Maine.
- The Old Lincoln County Jail (1811) and jailer’s house (1839), one of the oldest remaining jails in New England.
- The Alna Meetinghouse (1789), a great example of an eaves entry meetinghouse with an original porch. The building has both Georgian and Federal details, box pews, raised pulpit, and an impressive sounding board.
Just before dinner, we met back at the Vaughan Homestead for some hands-on activities. People helped raise a 1:5 scale replica of a scribe-ruled English threshing barn brought by Jim Derby of Waldoboro, Maine. Others assembled and raised a small crane that had been used to build the granite bridges throughout the Vaughan Woods. The crane is essentially a gin pole with a jib. The gin pole has pins at the top and bottom that allow it to fully rotate. The crane has built-in sheaves, gears and a handbrake for both raising and lowering the load and the jib. Jim Rogers also set up a number of old tools in Ellen’s shop for people to browse and buy.
The night ended with a great dinner, live music, and the slideshow. Adam Miller gave a great presentation on the Red Mill project. Arron Sturgis showed slides of a major steeple restoration that he had worked on this past summer. Brian and Michele Zabel of Wisconsin had combined a trip in search of industrial shop equipment with the regional meeting. Brian came prepared with slides and showed the building of a fantastic barn for an antique tractor club back home. I finished up the slideshow with photos from a recent tour of 18th century barns in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Allan Peoples got the last word with his notorious joke telling for the captive audience.
The Vaughan Woods consists of almost 200 acres of woodlands that had been restored by the Vaughan family between 1890 and 1930 after being damaged by early industrial activities. The family built six stone arch bridges and a three mile trail system that is quite popular among the locals. The tour of the woods concluded the planned events of the weekend. People began to pack up and say their goodbyes around noon. The weekend had everything you could want from a regional meeting. If there haven’t been any regional meetings in your area and you are interested in hosting one, please email or call the Guild office for details (firstname.lastname@example.org or 855/598-1803).