Follow Mildred Pettengill’s Year on Twitter

Throughout 2015, Freeport Historical Society will be offering you the chance to step back in time and live a year in the life of Mildred Pettengill, the last resident of Pettengill Farm, which is owned and managed by FHS.  Among the artifacts FHS received from the estate of Mildred Pettengill were several diaries, which record interesting details about her life in the early-mid 20th century. Every day, Freeport Historical Society will be Tweeting (from @Miss_Pettengill) an entry from Mildred's 1921 diary.  The Tweets will be augmented with photographs and other historic material from the Pettengill Family Collection at FHS, and annotated with historic details.  The diary entries, with annotations, are also view-able on the FHS website. We'd love to hear what you make of this venture.  Feel free to get in touch.

Sunday July 17th Pettengill Tour CANCELLED

The Pettengill Farm tour scheduled to occur on Sunday July 17th at 5 pm is cancelled. Please register for another one of our tours in July or August to learn about this unique historic farm and home.

Retired Cole Haan CEO donates $1 million to Freeport Historical Society

For entire story from the BDN
Posted April 12, 2016, at 1:33 p.m. Last modified April 12, 2016, at 2:13 p.m.
FREEPORT, Maine — About 50 people at the Freeport Historical Society’s annual meeting initially sat in stunned silence Sunday evening after retired Cole Haan CEO George Denney announced he would donate $1 million to the organization. Then they “erupted into applause,” Jim Cram, the society’s executive director, said Tuesday.
Denney of Freeport is a past board member who is “very active” with the historical society, according to Cram, and was primarily responsible for the iron fence that lines the society’s headquarters, the Harrington House, on Main Street. He declined, through Cram, to speak to the Bangor Daily News. The donation comes at a critical time for the organization, as board members work to address structural issues at the Harrington House. Cram said the board was about to begin a capital campaign to raise about $900,000 to fix the building’s roof, which sports tarps in several places, and to build a new archival vault for a collection that includes original deeds, daybooks from doctors’ offices and ship captains’ logs dating to the early 1700s. “The vault has been studied for 25 years,” Cram said. “We need a true archival vault that is fireproof and has HVAC, to protect our documents from fire and humidity.” Board members will meet again Thursday to begin to develop a plan. “We’re taking this seriously,” Cram said. “We want to try to match it with additional grants and donations. The intent is to put a lot of money into an endowment and leave the organization stronger.” Construction of the vault is scheduled to begin in 2017, and Cram hopes it will be open by 2019, when they celebrate the historical society’s 50th anniversary. Meanwhile, the society is moving forward with a new project based at Mast Landing, the site of a 100-foot granite dam that once was part of a sawmill, grist mill and spindle mill near the shipbuilding operation. Working with local public school students, the historical society plans to develop an illustrated history of Freeport during the next several years, beginning with Mast Landing and then moving to neighborhoods, such as Porters Landing and South Freeport, according to Cram.   CORRECTION: An earlier headline and version of this report incorrectly identified George Denney as founder of Cole Haan. He is a retired CEO for the company.

Annual Meeting – NEW LOCATION

So. Freeport Church 002Sunday, April 10, 2016 - 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM NEW LOCATION South Freeport Church 98 S Freeport Rd, Freeport, ME 04032 There will be a brief business meeting followed by a presentation of our annual awards and an illustrated presentation by Curator/Collections Manager, Holly Hurd, on “Freeport, Then & Now.” Light Refreshments  RSVP BY: April 6, 2016 207-865-3170

Interim director gets the job at Freeport Historical Society

View full article in the Tri-Town Weekly By Larry Grard   The Freeport Historical Society would have had a difficult time finding someone more qualified than Jim Cram to be its next executive director, and the board of trustees knew it. Foregoing a national search, the board decided on March 10 to name Cram, a Freeport resident, to the position. Cram, 66, has been interim executive director since Dec. 4, after James Myall left following just a year in the position. “We were going to begin a search, but I have to say, Jim was just a shining star right out of the gate,” said Andrea Martin, board president. “He jumped in with both feet.” Cram has been a member of the Freeport Historical Society for 35 years. He brings a background in construction, restoration and project management to the job, and was board president when he and his wife, Anne, lived at Porter’s Landing from 1973-84. The couple moved back to South Freeport three years ago. “It quickly became clear he was the one,” Martin said. “He's got ties to the organization and he was on the board years ago. His background is phenomenal.” Martin continued with the accolades. “He inspires me,” she said. “You get these people who just have this energy and this momentum, and he is one of them. I love working with the man We could not have done a search and found anyone more qualified.” Cram said he looks forward to bringing stability to the Freeport Historical Society. Holly Hurd, curator and collections manager, is now working with her third executive director in 2½ years, and fourth office manager in that time frame. “It's time to stabilize,” Cram said. “I have a pretty good idea of how these organizations work and what they need, and pulling things together.” Cram has plenty on his plate. In addition to what he called “loose ends and projects,” planning is under way for the “Artists of Freeport's Past” exhibit, which begins on May 12 and lasts through autumn. He's spending much of his time in the office, searching out more material for that exhibit, and at the same time working with trustee David Coffin on a new project on historic Mast Landing. One of the four original Freeport villages – along with Porter's Landing, South Freeport and Freeport Corner – Mast Landing, at the head of tide on the Harraseeket River, took in timber for use as masts. The estuary was dammed to power mills.

WGME Real Estate Report: Freeport’s history in danger

Freeport Historical Society was featured this week on WGME Real Estate section.  Watch the video here: FREEPORT (WGME) -- The Freeport Historical Society is on Main St., right between L.L. Bean and the Gap. It’s a red brick building housing some of the most important artifacts in town, but the curator says those pieces are in danger of destruction. The archive room at the historic Harrington House is busting at the seams. Perhaps more serious than the space crunch, everything from maps and newspaper clippings, to old baby bean boots and other windows into the past, is at risk according to curator Holly Hurd. “We are here in a wooden building with all these precious collections, so we need to do something,” Hurd said. The front of the building is brick, but the archives are stored in an attached wooden structure. One fire or flood, and hundreds of years of history could be gone. Hurd says the solution is simple. The society has wanted to build a climate controlled vault for decades. Exec-director Jim Cram says that now the only issue is cost. “I’m guessing it’s going to be in the $600,000 to $700,000 range could be a little more,” Cram said. “Could be a little less. More than half a million bucks? More than that.” A price they say worth paying to preserve and protect the priceless pieces of this town. Cram says fundraising efforts for the vault will likely start this year. They hope to begin construction in 2017. In the meantime they are working on a disaster plan. Telling the fire department that in the case of a fire, the first priority is to protect that back portion of the structure where the archives are stored. Hurd and Cram are also really excited about an art display that's set to open next week at the Historical Society. It's a travelling exhibit from the Rangeley Logging Museum. The paintings tell the story of logging in Maine in the early 20th century. It starts on Monday and will be there for about eight weeks.

Logging in the Maine Woods, 1915-1928

Logging in the Maine Woods, 1915-1928

The Paintings of Alden Grant

February 1- March 25, 2016

Alden Grant Poster imageThis special exhibit of 19 paintings by Alden Grant, Sr. is on loan from the Rangeley Lakes Region Logging Museum for 8 weeks only. The subject is logging in the Maine woods from 1915-1928, when axes, handsaws, and horses were used to cut and haul trees. Alden Grant, who lived some years in Freeport, spent many hours of his youth observing loggers working near his childhood home in the area of Rangeley, Maine. He created these folk art paintings from 1986-1990, when he was in his late seventies, from his memories of the logging camps in the early decades of the 20th century.

Opening Reception 5-7 PM Feb 1

Regular open hours Tues., Wed., Fri., 10 AM-4 PM and Thurs., 10 AM - 7 PM

Cost: $5 non-members / $3 FHS  members and children 12 & under

Jim Cram Returns to Freeport Historical Society as Interim Director

Freeport Historical Society’s Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Jim Cram as Executive Director. Jim’s strong personal ties to Freeport and his engagement with the community; his professional background in construction, restoration, and project management; and his commitment to historic and architectural preservation are among his distinctions. Jim currently serves as a trustee of Greater Portland Landmarks and is a member of the Freeport Project Review Committee. He is also, not incidentally, a decades-long member of Freeport Historical Society and a past president of the FHS Board.

Ghosts of Freeport’s Past

Two new ghosts debut their spectral stylings at Freeport Historical Society's popular Halloween event

Ghost Tours 2015

The adventurous and open-minded are invited to Freeport’s Woodlawn Cemetery this Halloween season for an encounter with specters and spirits, courtesy of Freeport Historical Society. FHS is bringing history back from beyond the grave, with the appearance of notable Freeporters in the graveyard, with the assistance of the Freeport Players.

The reincarnations of famous and not-so-well-known former residents of Freeport will share fascinating tales of their lives, and illuminate interesting aspects of Freeport’s past. Come and hear history from the mouths of those who lived it!

Tours lasting approximately 45 minutes, will take place the 28th, 29th and 30th of October, beginning at 6:30. Tours depart at 6:30, 7:00 and 7:30.

Admission is $10, children (12 and under), $5. FHS members, $5.

Purchase tickets online!

Woodlawn Cemetery is the resting place of some of Freeport’s most prominent past residents including shipbuilders, industrialists, maritime captains, clergy and others whose stories are fascinating. This year’s tour will incorporate some favorite tales from previous years, but will include some new appearances – including the survivor of an 18th-century Indian raid and an eccentric 20th-century artist.

Since the tours will take place on uneven ground in the dark, participants should bring a flashlight. Participants should also dress appropriately for nighttime, outdoors, in late fall. Reservations are encouraged. FMI: (207) 865-3170, or

Purchase Tickets

Remembering Leon A. Gorman

Like many in the greater Freeport community, Freeport Historical Society's members, trustees and staff were saddened to learn of the passing of Leon A. Gorman on September 3rd. The longtime L.L. Bean president and chairman loomed large in Freeport's recent history, not only for his role in transforming the company into an international brand, and Freeport into a destination for millions, but also as a committed philanthropist and an advocate for the preservation and promulgation of Maine history.

The Gorman and Bean families, as well as the company, have long been supporters of Freeport Historical Society. We join them, our friends and neighbors in mourning Leon's passing. He was a true local history maker.

Leon Gorman (left) with Admiral Donald Baxter MacMillan (center right) at the L.L. Bean Store

Leon Gorman (left) with Admiral Donald Baxter MacMillan (center right) at the L.L. Bean Store. The photo was probably taken between 1967, when Gorman became president of L.L. Bean, and 1970, the year of MacMillan's death. MacMillan, a Freeport High School graduate, equipped his team with L.L. Bean's Maine Hunting Shoe for his 1921 Arctic expedition. Gorman is presenting MacMillan with a Hudson's Bay Point Blanket, an item first sold by L.L. Bean in 1925, and still available today. Photo Courtesy Freeport Historical Society, C. Raymond Thomas Collection.