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Harpswell Historical Society

Incorporated 1979

929 Harpswell Neck Road
Harpswell, Maine  04079
harpshistory@gmail.com

The Harpswell Historical Society is dedicated to the discovery, identification, collection, preservation, interpretation, and dissemination of materials relating to the history of Harpswell and its people.
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About the Harpswell Historical Society
Who We Are

Board Members 2010-2011

David Hackett [President]
Paul Dostie
Ed Phinney
Rob Porter
Burr Taylor [Treasurer]

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From our newsletter 1999-2000

Members and Friends of the Society

The Harpswell Historical Society is twenty-one years old this year. At this time it seems appropriate to remember the Organizing Committee from whose effort our Society was formed. Betsy Alexander, William Alexander, Delia Blanchette, Lena Everett Brown, John Dunlap, Jr., William N. Clee, L. Miller and Sumner K. Wiley. From the Board of Directors as well as our members a sincere Thank You for your efforts

You will find enclosed a little bit of Harpswell's history. "The Dead Ship of Harpswell" is certainly not Whittier's best known poem, but it is very much worth remembering here in Harpswell.

The Harpswell Historical Society has come a long way since its inception. We maintain and operate three buildings; we hold well-attended lectures; we have events in Town; we have a growing collection; and we have many good Friends in our extended family. In short We Done Good.

Respectfully Submitted

David H. Hackett III

Also, read about

HHS Newsletters ] Membership ] Mission Statement ]  [Contact us}

   The Harpswell Historical Society was created in 1979 by citizens who were concerned about preserving the Old Harpswell Meeting House and its contents. The group, headed by Harpswell resident and first president, Thurlow Alexander, met in the spring of '79 and by fall had a group of 16 charter members dedicated to the preservation of Harpswell's heritage.

In the following years the Society oversaw repairs and stabilization of the Old Harpswell Meeting House [a Registered National Historic Landmark], was instrumental in relocating the Hearse House, [which still houses one of two horse drawn hearses which were available to Harpswell residents] at Harpswell Center, and assisted in the discovery and reconstruction of the 1759 vintage Harpswell Center Cattle Pound.

In 1993 the Society received the deed to one of Harpswell's few public community buildings, Centennial Hall. This building was constructed in 1876 by town residents, to celebrate the centennial this countries independence from England. The building served the public as a meeting place for suppers, plays, dances and recitals well into the 1940's and 50's. For many years it was the home of the Harpswell Garden Club and many of their functions were held there. Centennial Hall gradually fell into disuse and ill repair but when Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Thompson, made the building available the Historical Society in partnership with the Harpswell Garden Club, arranged to have the building cut into three pieces and moved to Harpswell Center and onto land owned by the Garden Club and designated as the Ann Francis Hodgkins Memorial Park. This then created the Harpswell Historic Park In the following years the Historic Park Committee, made up of members of both the Historical Society and the Garden Club, has overseen the reconstruction of the building and landscaping of the grounds. This effort is continuing and is about 85% complete.

As a second addition to the newly created Historic Park, the North Harpswell District # 2 one room schoolhouse was given to the Historical Society by the Wilson Family as an example of one of the nineteen school buildings which once existed in Harpswell. Restoration of this building continues with the school scheduled to be moved onto a foundation soon and reproduction desks to be installed soon.

In the past few years the Society has taken responsibility for the care and upkeep of two of Harpswell's twenty cemeteries. The Thomas Cemetery and the Wilson Cemetery both on Harpswell Neck. A joint project with the Society and Harpswell Boy Scout troop 634 at Bailey Island is underway to restore the Doughty Cemetery on Great Island which is now abandoned and in a sad state of disrepair.

In 1998 the Committee for the conservation of old records began one of the original objectives of the Society. Filing cabinets and flat file drawers were purchased, Acid free files, envelopes were ordered and members attended several workshops at the Maine State Archives in preparation of cataloging and indexing old town records and the growing collection of Society memorabilia and documents.

Each year the Historical Society sponsors three public meetings with a guest speaker, which presents a program dealing in some fashion with either Harpswell History or Casco Bay Regional History. (we are always looking for suggestions for speakers or subjects). The programs have traditionally been held at Cundy's Harbor, Orr's Island and Harpswell Center.