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Gibbs Avenue Museum and Blynn Davis Memorial Archives

As of January 7: Tuesday & Thursday 1-4, and by appointment or chance (look for the "Open" flag). To better serve you, we strongly recommend that researchers contact us in advance.


Closed for the season, but will re-open this spring, with an expanded schedule in the summer. Please feel free to enjoy the grounds during daylight hours.

Paid Summer Internship available this summer at Narramissic. Contact us for details.read more ...

Narramissic Barn Stabilized -- For Now

Preliminary work has been done to stabilize the barn at Narramissic Eric Beane of The Barn Boys has re-set all of the posts underneath the structure, most of which were seriously compromised in one way or another. In one instance, the post was simply hanging in thin air: there was a gap between the bottom of the post and the granite footing that was big enough for a grown man to pass his hand through.


Although Eric’s work should make the barn safe to use again for public events, the long-term solution is much more involved. The foundation walls, which have shifted dramatically from the action of water draining down the hillside and off the roof, all need to be re-built. There is a similar problem with a portion of the foundation under the house, and last year, these conditions led Maine Preservation to designate Narramissic as an Endangered Historic Resource.  “While we are, obviously, distressed that the situation has reached this point, we are approaching this as an opportunity to raise awareness of the wonderful resource we have in Narramissic and the importance of preserving it as a place to come and learn about nineteenth-century farm life, and enjoy a dramatic and beautiful preserved landscape” commented Ned Allen, the society’s Executive Director. “We are gathering the information we need to initiate the process of rebuilding the foundations, designing the drainage systems, putting the work out to bid, and undertaking the major fund-raising campaign that this will require. We expect this to be a project that will be completed in phases, which will probably take several years to complete,” he added. Don Perkins, author of The Barns of Maine, has posted a video about the situation on YouTube, titled “1830s Temperance Barn, Bridgton.”



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Temperance Barn Closed: Narramissic on Endangered List

See the video, thanks to Don Perkins, author of The Barns of Maine: Our History, Our Stories  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rpp6Avy608&feature=youtu.be

We were recently advised that we should not use the Temperance Barn at Narramissic until we can stabilize the foundation. As a result, Maine Preservation recently added Narramissic to its list of Maine's Most Endangered Historic Resources. In its statement about Narramissic, the preservation organization stated, "Due to fiscal constraints and a lack of volunteers or paid staff, Narramissic Farm suffers from deferred maintenance. While Bridgton Historical Society, which took ownership in 1986, is a fine steward, the property urgently needs additional support." (See "Donate" button below right!). We are in the early stages of planning the restoration and fund-raising campaign that we will need to undertake to pay for it, and we are confident that we will emerge as a far stronger organization as a result.

Over the past year or so we have become increasingly aware that there were problems with the foundation. It all started when volunteers made some repairs and adjustments to the door, which was getting very hard to open and close. They noticed that the real culprit wasn’t the door itself, but the fact that the structure had shifted off its foundations. The Society consulted with several historic preservation consultants about the problems facing the 175-year-old foundation, and a recent report by Christopher Closs of Maine Preservation warned that the situation has reached the point where concern for public safety dictates the drastic action.  

The barn, approximately 40 x 60 feet, was built in the 1830s by George Fitch, son-in-law of the house’s original owner, William Peabody. It is known locally as the “Temperance Barn,” since according to local tradition, it was raised, during a period of religious revival, without the barrel of rum that was usually part of such occasions.  Mr. Fitch was an ambitious builder, constructing this large barn next to an existing one. A few years later, he decided that it needed a cellar; he built a large wooden screw, lifted the barn up and built the foundation of huge granite slabs that he quarried from the hill behind the house. The barn has stood, through wind, rain, and sun and through good times and bad, since then.   

The barn is featured prominently in Don Perkins recent book, The Barns of Maine, as it is a noteworthy specimen of a mid-19th century barn with a very compelling story.  The barn has been used over the years as a venue for numerous events and programs, from scholarly lectures and fine artisans shows to community suppers and dances.  But no barn--or other historic structure--stands forever without repairs. It was re-sided in the late 1930s after Margaret Monroe purchased the property, and the society has worked over the years at preserving the structure, most recently by replacing the roof. Major work was also undertaken when the farm was donated to the Society in 1987. The floor was replaced at that time, and structural repairs straightened the barn and reinforced the supporting posts. Those repairs have lasted for a quarter of a century, but 25 years of water draining off the Fitch’s Hill has taken its toll, washing out the soil under the foundation.  

To read more about Maine Preservation and their Most Endangered list, visit them at http://mainepreservation.org/.




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Bridgton & Saco River RR Page

RR 3 - Small.jpg

Your webmaster has completed transferring all photos and text concerning the Narrow Gauge Railroad from the old BHS website.  Please check out the new layout and visit some of the other links to other NGRR websites. The WW & FRY site is of particular interest as it includes a section on the B & SR RR in its discussion forum.

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 You are here: About * Our History * Remembering Bob Dunning   Search  
Remembering Bob Dunning


Bob Dunning (right) explaining his work to a visitor at the Woodworkers and Artisans Show a few years ago
When I first heard of Bob Dunning’s sudden passing over the Thanksgiving holiday my reaction, like most everyone else’s, was one of shock and disbelief. It is impossible to imagine the community without him. Bob’s talents and contributions were so great and varied that I don’t know where to start, and I have had a very hard time sitting down to write this. No one label even begins to describe him, although many apply: fine craftsman, restoration carpenter, historian, teacher, involved citizen, community activist, volunteer, and just plain good guy.  
He gave generously of his valuable time and considerable talents. His most recent contribution to the Bridgton Historical Society came this past summer, when he participated in a small ad hoc advisory committee charged with helping the board formulate a new strategic plan. He brought to the discussion decades of involvement with the society, the community, and historic and preservation organizations throughout the state and beyond, and his thoughtful insights were key to many of the committee’s findings and the plan we adopted at October’s annual meeting.
But his participation in the Bridgton Historical Society stretches much further back than that. This past summer we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the society’s stewardship of Narramissic, and that anniversary might not have even been possible without Bob, who performed much of the actual restoration work to the highest standards of craftsmanship.   Beyond that, he took an active part in making sure that Narramissic lived up to its promise to be a “demonstration center for early American life and crafts,”  the vision that Mrs. Margaret Monroe had for the property when she bequeathed it to us. 
He was an integral part of the annual Woodworkers Show since its inception 18 years ago. This show was founded on the idea of learning through demonstration and active engagement with visitors, and his presence was always strongly felt. Most recently, he devoted much of his time and talent to the Rufus Porter Museum, to make sure that that part of Bridgton’s past is not forgotten. 
He worked hard to advance the causes he believed in so strongly, but he did so with a thoughtful civility that sought to persuade and educate rather than confront and anger. We have all lost a great friend and involved citizen who was such an important part of the community, but his wife Sally and his children Jessie and Dan have lost a loving husband and father, and our hearts go out to them as we share their grief. We are all the poorer for Bob’s absence, but we have all been enriched immeasurably by the life that he led.
Ned Allen
President, Bridgton Historical Society

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