Funding for this project is from a Maine Humanities Council and was matched in cash by numerous local individuals and businesses.
The goal of the Freeport Heritage Trail is to both engage and inform the public about Freeport’s long history and to reinforce the town’s identity among residents and visitors. Seventeen handsome signs comprised of compelling historic photographs and descriptive and interesting text tell the stories of notable people, architecturally significant structures and landscapes, and key events that shaped the community.
In addition to the signage, an audio file has been created for each sign. A diverse group of Freeporters, each having a connection to the narrative being shared on the sign, have lent their voices and in some cases have added personal stories to enhance the experience of the listener. The audio will be accessible via smart phones or directly via our website.
“We are in a unique position as a town to undertake this project. As a retail destination for more than two decades, visitors are sometimes surprised to learn that the town is not a planned development; rather Freeport is a small New England town with a rich history and a surprisingly intact “fabric” in terms of historic properties and landscapes. FreeportUSA estimates that 3.4 million people visit Freeport annually. Our goal through this program is twofold: to reinforce the town’s identity to residents, and, to introduce visitors to the town’s history. We have a tremendous opportunity to engage those who come to shop. With those exposures, we have an opportunity to expand and deepen Freeport’s identity,” stated Christina White, FHS Director.
She continued, “In terms of its economic, cultural and social history, Freeport may be thought of as having successfully reinvented itself a number of times—agricultural—maritime (both shipbuilding and trading )- industrial, through its vibrant shoe industry, and now a focus on retail and visitors. This provides us with innumerable opportunities for history-telling. Heritage Trails, like guided walking tours, bring history “to the streets” and likely engage a wider spectrum of the public than other history-related programs. This program provides FHS an opportunity to bring our Collections to the public, in a sense and, in doing so, reaching a greater audience and signaling to residents and visitors alike that Freeport has a long and interesting history.”
“And, while we have focused on the “Village,” Wolf’s Neck and Flying Point areas, with funding, our plan is to continue the Trail to North and South Freeport, both of which are rich in history,” stated Ned Allen, Collections Manager.