February 3, 2013

Local forts, sites focus of lecture series on region's history

By Susan M. Cover scover@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

AUGUSTA -- A new winter lecture series that launched Sunday will focus on how four local forts and other historical sites fit together like pieces in central Maine's historical puzzle.

click image to enlarge

Re-enactors assemble on the lawn of the Pownalborough Court House, in Dresden, on Sunday, after sleeping in tents outside the 18th century building overnight.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

"We're going to explore Fort Western as part of a bigger picture," said Linda Novak, director and curator of Old Fort Western.

About 40 people gathered Sunday at Augusta City Center for the first lecture, which focused on three sites in Lincoln County and the Vaughan Homestead in Hallowell. Ed Kavanagh, president of the Lincoln County Historical Association, said Mainers are lucky that so many historic homes and buildings have not been torn down for strip malls.

"We have everything around here," he said. "It's really magnificent. We're blessed with all these antique homes. We're blessed with all these antique buildings."

Kavanagh showed slides of the Chapman-Hall House in Damariscotta, which was built in 1754; the Pownalborough Court House in Dresden, built in 1761; and the Old Jail in Wiscasset, dating to 1811.

The series, which runs through March 17, is designed to show how "every historic place and event is the result of what came before," Novak wrote in materials handed out at Sunday's lecture.

"Fort Western did not exist as an entity unto and of itself," she wrote. "It was a piece of the overall picture, and to tell its story we need to explore its connections to other places and times."

The lecture series will be held each Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. in the lecture hall of Augusta City Center:

* Feb. 10: Ernie Plummer, president of the Kennebec Historical Society, and Tom Desjardins, of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, will talk about Fort Popham, Swan Island in Richmond, the Reuben Colburn House in Pittston and Fort Halifax in Winslow.

* Feb. 17: Bruce Bourque, of the Maine State Museum, will talk about his new book, "The Swordfish Hunters: The History and Ecology of an Ancient American Sea People."

* Feb. 24: Micah Pawling, history professor at the University of Maine in Orono, will talk about his book, "The Wabanaki Homeland and the New State of Maine: The 1820 Journal and Plans of Survey of Joseph Treat."

* March 3: Jim Leamon, retired Bates College history professor, will talk about his book "The Reverend Jacob Bailey, Maine Loyalist."

* March 10: Leith Smith, a historical archaeologist with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, will give an update on the Fort Richmond archaeological excavation.

* March 17: Liam Riordan, associate history professor at the University of Maine, will talk about a book he co-edited called "The Loyal Atlantic: Remaking the British Atlantic in the Revolutionary Era."

Susan Cover -- 621-5643

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