The Washburn Historical Society is looking for volunteers and also new members. Join us and learn about the past!
The Salmon Brook Historical Society Museums
Benjamin C. Wilder Farmstead & Aroostook Agricultural Museum
In 1980, several interested citizens of Washburn, Wade, and Perham under Ray Carter’s leadership began meeting to organize a historical society. The new group’s stated objective was “to preserve and collect such materials and information that illustrated the area’s history.” Soon after its organization, it became evident that a building was necessary to store and display these historical materials.
The old Ben Wilder home became available. After a spirited, successful fundraising drive, the property was purchased in winter 1985. Intensive restorative work by volunteers made it possible to open the 1852 house to the public at the 1985 Washburn August Festival.
Work continued each year, renovating rooms of the house and adding furnishings of the mid to late-1800s period. On June 12, 1987, the Benjamin C. Wilder house was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in the State of Maine by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission and by the Department of the Interior of Washington D.C. A veterans’ room and a photo room occupy the shed attached to the Wilder Homestead.
Visitors find our collection of different butter churns, cream separators, washing machines, and treadle sewing machines intriguing. Our collection often stirs up childhood memories of grandparents and great-grandparents and the stories they shared.
Since the barn attached to the house burned in 1938 and was replaced with a two-car garage, the Society found itself faced with storing and displaying farm machinery and equipment. A piece of land at the rear of the house was acquired and early in spring 1989. A fundraising drive was started.
The drive was so successful that a builder began construction of the new barn that same year. The Society has received an extensive collection of old machinery and equipment. It is on display in the barn.
There are two fascinating exhibits. One is designated as “Don & Barb’s Country Corner,” which displays old, rare pottery, iron, copper, brass culinary items, and many other fine pieces. The other is a collection called “The Fox’s Den,” displaying a fine old Craftsman’s Chest, numerous types of wooden planes, and many rare farm tools.
In 2008, an addition was added to the back of the barn to the house, the donated Robert Solman collection of beautiful refurbished carriages and sleighs. Two more horse-drawn carriages were recently added to the collection by the family of Merle Nickerson.
Salmon Brook Historical Society is currently offering the following events to raise funds to support the operation of the two museums a yard sale in July, a quilt show, a tea on the first Sunday in August in the Aroostook Agricultural Museum, and a Harvest Bean Supper in the middle of September, and concert with the local Rotary Club with all funds going to SBHS. The museums annually host classrooms from area schools allowing students to learn about and interact with many local history items they might never otherwise see.
Located in the center of Washburn next to Story Park at 1267 Main Street. The two museums are easily accessible to townspeople and guests. The buildings are open to the public every Sunday of the summer season from 1-4 pm and from 8-11 am on Wednesday while SBHS volunteers work on-site.
Tours may also be arranged by calling Wanita Hallowell at 207-540-1154 or Rita Kingsbury at 207-429-9359. There is no admission charge. However, donations are gratefully accepted to help with maintenance and other expenses of operating the Museums.
SBHS membership is open to all. Annual dues are $5. Please contact the SBHS for more information about joining.