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Demonstrations -


blacksmith Joe



Joe Meltreder returns this summer to demonstrate the tools and techniques of his trade each Wednesday and Sunday from 2-5 p.m. during July and August.   






Temple Blackwood, a local woodturner with four decades of commercial woodturning and teaching experience, will demonstrate his craft on Wednesdays and Sundays from 2-5 p.m. in July and August.



Events -




Harvest of Diamonds: Maine Ice Cooled the World

pulling ice at Curran HomesteadIn the mid-19th century, Yankee entrepreneurs annually conducted large-scale commercial ice harvests on Maine waterways, creating an industry that greatly impacted our state's economy and affected lifestyles worldwide.

Bruce Bowden, Executive Director of The Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum in Orrington, will present a comprehensive lecture on Maine's ice industry at the Wilson Museum’s Hutchins Education Center, Wednesday, January 14, 2014 at 2 p.m. This talk will include the particulars and personages of Maine’s ice harvesting legacy which persists even today Attendees will hear vivid descriptions of how crystal-pure ice became Maine's second most valuable export before fading to obsolescence a century later, and see many of the actual tools used in the ice harvests of yesteryear -- century-old artifacts which are still used in living-history reenactments at sites throughout the state.

Bowden will conclude his presentation with a description of the ice harvesting process based on his first-hand experiences. This year the Seventh Annual Field's Pond Ice Harvest hosted by The Curran Homestead Living History Farm and Museum is scheduled for February 7th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


"Cocoa Ice" Cream

cranking ice creamDid you know that chocolate grows on trees and that Maine ice has been all over the world? Here’s a tasty way to learn about history! Come to the Hutchins Education Center at the Wilson Museum on Wednesday, January 21 at 2:30 p.m. and listen to the story of Cocoa Ice, a children’s book by Diana Karter Appelbaum which tells the story of two young girls: one in wintery Maine and one in steamy Santo Domingo. See historical artifacts, run a scientific experiment, and learn about the trade that brought cocoa and ice together. Finally, try your hand at bringing cocoa and ice together in the form of delicious ice cream. And, of course, sample the sweet results!

Though aimed at children ages 6-12, this program will appeal to anyone who likes to listen to a good story and eat ice cream! Please pre-register for this program by contacting 326-9247 or info@wilsonmuseum.org. For this special mid-winter event, the normal $3 per person material fee will be waived and all can participate free of charge.

Do you know a school or homeschool class that would like to have “Cocoa Ice” Cream visit their classroom? Save on the $3 per person fee and travel expenses by scheduling this educational program during the month of January for a flat fee of $25 per class.


Maine's Ice Industry: Windfalls and Pitfalls

CANCELLED due to weather.

Castine’s Wilson Museum will host its final January Ice Series presentation on Tuesday, January 27 at 2 p.m. in the Hutchins Education Center. Dr. Richard Judd will describe the origins of Maine's ice industry, its advantages and markets, and its incredible expansion in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. He will discuss ways in which this "windfall" industry illustrates the strengths and weaknesses in Maine's traditional resource-based economies. As a special treat, hand-cranked, homemade ice cream will follow the program.

Dr. Richard Judd is the Adelaide & Alan Bird Professor of History at the University of Maine in Orono. His primary field of interest is U.S. environmental history, particularly in New England. Professor Judd also edits the Maine Historical Society’s quarterly journal, Maine History, and contributes to their Maine History Online website.  


February Vacation Camp

Plains Indian dioramaThis February, Tuesday through Friday during school break (Feb. 17-20), children are invited to join Wilson Museum staff in the Hutchins Education Center for a vacation camp of activities and games. The focus of the week will be on the Native American inhabitants of the Northeastern Territory. Each day will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 1 p.m. with campers providing their own bag lunches.

Every camp day will have a theme. On Tuesday, the first day of camp, the idea of culture will be explored and campers will begin to construct dioramas using materials from nature. Wednesday's theme will be healing and the spiritual world and will include carving an amulet and sampling herb teas. Thursday's theme will be stories, including those used to pass on history and explain the unknown. On Friday, camp will conclude with putting the finishing touches on the dioramas (which will be exhibited at the Witherle Memorial Library during the month of March) and with sampling a selection of crafts such as carving, weaving, and beading. While each camp day will include a variety of activities based on the theme of the day, games will be a part of every day. Games will highlight skills valued by native inhabitants including awareness, strength, recall based on memory or touch, reasoning, probability, and teamwork.

It is not necessary to attend every camp day, but preregistration is required. There is a $3 per person per day materials fee ($10 per person for the full camp). The camp is intended for children 7-12 years old. Families are encouraged to attend and younger children are welcome if accompanied by an adult. Register at 207-326-9247 or info@wilsonmuseum.org by February 10th.



Open Research Sessions

March is a great month to dig into some historical and genealogical research. The Wilson Museum will open the Hutchins Education Center on Thursdays during March from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. for researchers to peruse some of the resources available in the Museum's collections.

Each session will highlight a different category of resource. A collection of published family histories will delight genealogists, while microfilms of old local newspapers will excite historic researchers of all kinds. Cemetery and diary transcripts, as well as vital records, are just a few of the other resources through which participants may glean golden nuggets of valuable information. Access to the internet and ancestry.com will be available on a limited basis for laptop users.

To fan the research flame still further, a talk on a related topic will follow each research session. Scroll below for more information about the March speakers. Both the research session and subsequent talk are free and open to the public.



Maine Newspaper Project

Janet RobertsJoin fellow researchers on Thursdays in March at Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to peruse some of the resources available from the Museum's collections. A talk on a related topic will follow each research session beginning at 2 p.m. The first talk will be on March 5th by Janet Roberts who will be speaking on the Maine Newspaper Project.

The Maine Newspaper Project is a past project that Janet Roberts coordinated for the Maine State Archives and the Maine State Library. During the course of the project, a team catalogued all known newspaper collections in public repositories in Maine. In addition, some titles were microfilmed, including several from the Deer Isle - Stonington area. Ms. Roberts will give background on the project, focusing on what was discovered about newspapers in the Castine area, what a researcher is likely to learn from newspapers, and how to locate newspapers that will be helpful to the audience's research.

Janet Roberts has been involved with history in a variety of ways since she was a child poking around old cemeteries with her father in the Farmington area. She majored in History and French at Williams College (Williamstown, MA) and has a Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Vermont. Since 1970, Ms. Roberts has worked on a number of projects with the Maine State Archives and the Maine State Library. She is currently administrator for the Historical Records grant program, which helps provide funding for archival projects at historical societies and similar organizations.

Feel free to come to either the research session or the talk. Better yet, bring a bag lunch and attend both. All March sessions and subsequent talks are free and open to the public.   



Tips on Interpreting Town Clerks' Handwriting

Marlene GrovesWilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center will be open March 12th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for genealogical or historical researchers to peruse some of the resources available in the Museum's collections. Bring a lunch and stay for a related talk by Marlene Groves beginning at 2 p.m.; or come just for the talk.

In her presentation, Marlene will offer some Tips on Interpreting Town Clerks' Handwriting. Transcribing the handwriting of early clerks, whether for a town, probate or court office, can be quite challenging at times. To assist researchers as well as transcribers of early vital records, this talk will illustrate, with a PowerPoint presentation, some examples of handwriting used by several different early Maine town clerks. Not all clerks followed the same set pattern in their writing, some using a flowery style which can often be nearly as difficult to read as a more standard style written in a poor manner. Most of the illustrations used in this presentation cover the period from the mid-17th century to the later part of the 20th century, which is the period of time most commonly researched by genealogists in Maine.

Marlene Groves has been a member of the Maine Genealogical Society since 1976 and a member of its Board of Directors since 1988. A certified genealogist from 1997 to 2007, she has published three books covering her own ancestral lines of Clark, Malbon and Hinckley and has transcribed many books of early Maine town vital records which have all been published by Picton Press.

Both the research session and talk are free and open to the public.


Civil War Memorials of Hancock County

Darlene SpringerWilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center on Perkins Street will be open March 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the third in a series of four genealogical or historical research sessions. Bring a lunch and stay for a related talk by Darlene Springer beginning at 2 p.m.; or stop by just for the talk.

Darlene will explore the various Civil War memorials located in Hancock County. Highlighted in the talk will be the materials used for the monuments, what else may be in the immediate vicinity, whether or not veterans' names are included, and some surprising and little-known facts. Special attention will be given to the quarrying, manufacture, and setting of the Ellsworth monument, and what is hidden inside.

Darlene Springer lives in Ellsworth and is an owner and the general manager of H.W. Dunn & Son, Inc., a monument shop which has been owned and operated by the Dunn family since 1882. She is familiar with all phases of memorial production, having worked in the field for more than 40 years. She is a history buff, a member of the Board of Directors of the Ellsworth Historical Society, and author of the book The Great Fire of Ellsworth 1933. To become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Darlene has traced her family tree back to Revolutionary War soldier Elijah Wilbur of Massachusetts.

Both the research session and the program are free and open to the public.


Using Deeds & Probate Records in Historical Research

Mark HoneyThe fourth and final talk in a series of March genealogical research programs will be held on Thursday, March 26th at 1 p.m. (note different time) in the Wilson Museum’s Hutchins Education Center on Perkins Street in Castine. Mark Honey will describe the useful information which can be gleaned from county deed and probate records. Not only are these records invaluable to genealogists, but they contain information that can illuminate an era and its society for historical researchers of all kinds.

Mark Honey, a local historian and author with family ties in the Castine area, resides in Ellsworth.

Also, on the same day, join fellow researchers at Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (note different time) for an Open Research Session to peruse some of the resources available from the Museum's collections. Feel free to come to either the research session or the talk. Better yet, bring a bag lunch and attend both. The talk and research session are free and open to the public.



Maja Trivia

Tournament Judges for Maja Trivia 2014It's tournament time! The third year of Maja Trivia, a game celebrating the rich history of the region once known as Majabigwaduce, now the towns of Brooksville, Castine, and Penobscot, is drawing to an exciting conclusion. Throughout the school year, 5th - 8th grade students from Penobscot Community School, Brooksville Elementary School, and Castine's Adams School have been playing Maja Trivia practice rounds. Beginning May 19th, the students will put their knowledge to the test.

Each school will compete in a semi-final competition, consisting of two rounds, sponsored by the town's respective historical society. Four finalists and two alternates from each school will move on to compete at the Wilson Museum on Tuesday, June 9th to determine the Maja Trivia champion! Join us for all four competitions, support the students, and learn about the intriguing and often colorful histories of the three towns. Here is the complete schedule:

May 19
12 - 2 p.m.
 Penobscot Semi-Final Rounds
 Penobscot Community School, Penobscot

May 20
12 - 2 p.m.

 Castine Semi-Final Rounds
 Castine Historical Society's Mitchell Room, Castine

May 21
9:30  - 11:30 a.m.

 Brooksville Semi-Final Rounds
 Brooksville Elementary School, Brooksville

June 9
10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

 Tournament of Champions
 Wilson Museum, 112 Perkins Street, Castine








Maja Trivia was developed by the Wilson Museum in collaboration with the Castine, Brooksville, and Penobscot Historical Societies.



The Barbour Family of Brewer and their Boatyard

Steamer Cimbria modelThe Steamboat Cimbria was a ferry which ran from Bangor to Bar Harbor with frequent stops in Castine in the late 1800s/early 1900s and was built at the Barbour Boatyard in Brewer. On Tuesday, June 23, at 2 p.m., Henry Wiswell and Judith Frost Gillis will give a presentation on the history of Barbour's Boatyard and the family who created it. The illustrated presentation will take place at the Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center. The model of the Steamboat Cimbria above to the right was constructed by John Gardner.

Henry Wiswell, great-grandson of Captain Samuel Barbour (founder of the Boatyard), has worked hard to preserve and share his family's history. Past President of the Orrington Historical Society, Mr. Wiswell is currently Vice-President of the organization as well as a local historian and owner of the Wiswell Farm and Greeenhouses, a working family farm in Orrington.  Mr. Wiswell and his daughter are the sixth and seventh generations to reside at Wiswell Farm. 

Judith Frost Gillis is the President of the Orrington Historical Society and works with Mr. Wiswell on Wiswell and Orrington history.



Saving Old Windows

John LeekeGood wood windows - they can keep out the storm, let in the breeze, look out on the world and enhance the beauty of a building. Yet thousands of windows are ripped out of older and historic buildings and hauled to the dump each year. This astonishing loss is due, in large part, to the fact that few people know how to maintain and repair their existing wood windows. Preservation specialist John Leeke will give an illustrated presentation on "Saving Old Windows," Thursday, July 9 at 3 p.m. in the Hutchins Education Center. Learn why it is worth caring for wood windows as well as the most efficient and effective means for keeping them from the dumpster.

John Leeke is a preservation consultant and owner of Historic HomeWorks of Portland, Maine. He is author of countless articles and several books including Save America's Windows, which will be available for purchase the day of the presentation. John has helped owners, tradespeople, non-profits, contractors and architects understand and maintain historic buildings for over 40 years. He has also lectured and presented workshops for local, state and national organizations including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Association for Preservation Technology International and Restoration/Renovation International Conferences.


Cooking with Grace

Grace TarrLooking for some new inspiration in the kitchen? Grace Tarr will offer a series of four hands-on cooking classes. Classes will be held on four Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on July 14, 28, August 4, and 18. The first three classes will be held at the Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center, while the final class will be held at the historic John Perkins House. Reservations for individual classes are $15 per person for adults and $8 per person for children 15 and under; or the entire series may be reserved for $55/adult and $28/child. Class size is limited, so please preregister.

July 14 class will address picky eaters with creative and fun maki and spring rolls. A traditional Asian dish, maki rolls are rice wrapped in a seaweed paper and filled with smoked fish and veggies. Spring rolls are a great summery treat - rice wrappers filled with lettuce, peanuts, chicken, basil, Thai sauce, and rice noodles.

July 28 class will focus on Indian cuisine and will include three main dishes: curry, saag paneer, and chicken jalfrenzi. America's interest in Asian cuisine has led to the Americanization of some Asian foods such as Chinese food and sushi, but Indian food has remained more consistent in its authenticity.

August 4 class will focus on preparing and cooking fish. This will be more of a sampler and the specific types of fish used will be dependent on availability and freshness, however, there will be a variety of kinds. What better thing to have while on the ocean than the bounty of it?

August 18 class will be in the Perkins House. This class will focus on historical cooking. Foods will include bread in the bake oven, donuts over the open fire, and plank fish.

Grace Tarr has participated in the Wilson Museum's Fireside Cooking programs since she was a toddler. A home-school student and John Perkins House guide, Grace has taken cooking classes from local celebrity chef Harry Kaiserian. This is Grace's second year to offer cooking classes in the new Hutchins Education Center.



Martha Washington Tea

Martha WashingtonWant some inside scoop from the First Lady? Join Martha Washington (portrayed by Johanna Sweet) on Wednesday, July 15 from 2 to 2:45 p.m. Nibble some of Martha's favorite sweets and sip a cup of tea or glass of lemonade while she shares insights into her husband, George's friendship with the Marquis de Lafayette. The cost to attend this tea is $8 for ages 13 and up, and $5 for those under 13 years of age. The event will be held at the Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center.

In addition to meeting Martha, don't forget to visit General Washington down at the Castine waterfront between the same day beginning at 11 a.m.  These visits from the Washingtons are two of the many events taking place while the Hermione is visiting Castine on July 14 and 15. For more information on the Hermione's visit www.castinehistoricalsocietyhermione.org.



Mi'kmaq Culture and Storytelling

Simon NevinEnjoy an afternoon of Mi'kmaq storytelling and song on Sunday, July 19 (2 p.m.), with Simon Nevin as he teaches about the Mi'kmaq culture at the Wilson Museum. This program is in conjunction with the Museum's summer exhibit Mainely Wabanaki: A Sampling of Authors and Artists.

Mr. Nevin is the Cultural Director for the Aroostook Band of Micmacs. He is originally from Nova Scotia, Canada, and has been involved in his Mi'kmaw culture for more than 30 years. Native drumming is the base for his cultural teachings, and he shares the stories, songs, and teachings of the Mi'kmaq people when he speaks.

Photo of Simon Nevin courtesy Malcolm White.



Fireside Cooking 

Ellenore Tarr fireside cookingA perennial favorite, the kitchen of the John Perkins House will be the venue for learning about such savory treats as donuts, bread, stew or mackerel cooked on a board when fireside cooking is demonstrated as part of the regular guided tour on July 22nd from 2-5 p.m.   Guided tours of the John Perkins House begin on the hour and are $5 per person; tour visitors may enjoy some tasty morsels from the day's fare.


NEW: A candlelight Colonial dinner for six will be offered on June 29 as a special fundraising event. Places will be set in the Perkins House dining room and the meal will be cooked on the hearth. Check back for more details or to register call 326-9247.

2008 fireside cooking









Basket-Making Workshop

You could make this tote basket!Spend an afternoon with Pamela Rackliffe Capurso and learn the art of basket-making. Each participant will go home with a beautiful and functional basket made by his or her own hands. The basket-making class will be held at Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center on Thursday, July 30 from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Preregistration is required and registrants will be given a list of equipment to bring with them to the workshop. The $60 workshop fee includes the materials needed to make a 7" x 11" x 10" tote basket, and each participant will be provided with a printed instruction sheet that can be used to create more baskets at home. This class is now FULL.

Pam CapursoFor 34 years, Pamela Rackliffe Capurso was a florist and horticulturist before she sold her business in 2006 and moved, with her husband, to Goodnight Farm in Brooksville, where they grow a variety of fruits, vegetables and flowers. She began weaving simple baskets to sell at local farmer's markets. As she has grown more proficient at basketry, Pamela has continued to develop the form and function of her baskets. She sells her baskets and other handmade items, both online and at the local farmer's market. You can visit her website at www.basketsofmaine.com.   




Sculpture Dedication and Town Band Concert

sculpture Home and AwayIn 2014 Castine was one of seven sites chosen to receive a sculpture from the Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium. The sculpture, titled "Home and Away," was created by artist Robert Leverich and is now displayed on the Wilson Museum grounds. On July 31 at 6 p.m., the Museum will host a dedication ceremony to celebrate this exciting addition to town and campus. The event will include a performance by the Town Band, a variety of speakers, and a display of sculptures made by local students. The Band will be performing a song, composed by Eddie Madden, which was inspired by the sculpture.

The Schoodic International Sculpture Symposium (SISS) was started by Jesse Salisbury, a sculptor from Steuben. Since 2007, SISS has brought artists to Maine from all over the world to create sculptures with stone from local quarries. The works of art are on display at public sites throughout eastern Maine and a self-guided tour has been created for all to enjoy.



Wabanaki History and Storytelling

A presentation on Wabanaki history and storytelling will be given by John Bear Mitchell at the Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center on Tuesday, August 4 at 2 p.m.   John Bear Mitchell is a member of the Penobscot Nation on Indian Island. He serves as the Associate Director of the Wabanaki Center at the University of Maine in Orono and University of Maine Native Program Waiver Coordinator. He also teaches courses at the University. He has served as Native Studies teacher at the Indian Island School and as a Maine Touring Artist delivering an Arts in Education program. While in college he toured with the Native American Storytellers of New England. His singing and storytelling have been featured in many videos and documentaries; and he was also an advisor and participant in the PBS series Colonial House.



Crafting with Porcupine Quills and Birch Bark

quill workCrafting with porcupine quills and birch bark is one of the oldest art forms in North America. On August 6 from 2 to 5 p.m. Ralph "Porcupine" Bishop will give an interactive presentation and demonstration of quillwork. Porcupine has been crafting with porcupine quills and birch bark for forty years. He dyes the quills to create a variety of colors and uses them to create intricate designs on birch bark forms. His works of art can be found in three countries and all but three states within the United States. Porcupine describes his craft as "putting color and happiness into hearts." Try this beautiful art form for yourself.



Wabanaki Drummers

Enjoy a rhythmical, melodious and harmonious experience as a group of Wabanaki Drummers perform Sunday, August 9 at 2 p.m. This group was organized by Dean Francis and will include Ron Bear, Robbie Dana, Nick Francis, Nick Bear and Dean Francis, all of the Penobscot Nation. Weather permitting, the performance will take place outside on the Wilson Museum grounds. In case of inclement weather, the drummers will set up inside the Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center.



Learn to Play Native American Flute

White Owl DuoMusic is a powerful language that has been used as a form of communication beginning with the earliest societies. The Native American flute is a simple, yet compelling instrument that often invokes strong reactions in those who hear its haunting melodies. Join the White Owl Duo at the Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center on Tuesday, August 11th from 1 to 4 p.m. and learn to play this intriguing instrument. Six-hole flutes are provided and you do not need any musical background. Using musical shorthand, you will be able to play ten to twelve songs by the end of the class. There is no fee for this course, but preregistration is required.

Laura Lee Perkins is the author of several books, has performed on multiple professional recordings, and has received numerous grants and awards. She is a former classical flute professor that developed a passion for Native American flutes. Laura and her flute-maker husband, Kenneth Green, collaborate as the White Owl Duo. They travel the country providing instruction on playing the Native American flute, as well as performing family-friendly educational concerts. The duo has Maliseet (Laura) and Micmac (Kenneth) ancestry, and they use music as a way to educate others about tribal cultures.




Penobscot Place Names

Learn about the Native American origin and meaning of many of our local place names from Tribal Historian James Francis in his presentation entitled Penobscot Place Names at the Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center on Thursday, August 13 at 2 p.m. James Francis is the Penobscot Nation's Tribal Historian with a focus on the relationship between Maine's Native Americans and the landscape. James has worked for the Wabanaki Studies Commission to help implement the Maine Native American Studies law. As a photographer, filmmaker, graphic artist and historical researcher, James has numerous accomplishments, including the co-production of "Invisible," a film that examines the issue of racism relating to the Native American people of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. He has completed an Oral History Project for the Penobscot Nation preserving community history not found in books, curated multiple museum exhibits, and served on boards and committees of many organizations.



Native American Storyteller - Allen Sockabasin

Allen SockabasinDue to unforeseen circumstances this program has been cancelled at this time. Come to the Wilson Museum's Hutchins Education Center on Thursday, August 20 at 2 p.m. and you will be treated to a wonderful performance by Allen Sockabasin. The presentation will include history, stories and music. Two of his sons, Noah Tomah age 14 and Zoo Sap age 11, will join him for the performance. Zoo Sap was featured in Sockabasin's children's book Thanks to the Animals. The book tells the story of how baby Zoo Sap fell off the family's sled unnoticed and was protected by the forest animals until his father returned to find him.

Allen Sockabasin is a Passamaquoddy author, musician and teacher. In addition to Thanks to the Animals, he has also written a memoir titled An Upriver Passamaquoddy. He is passionate about teaching and preserving the Passamaquoddy language. Allen draws on his musical abilities to write, perform and record Passamaquoddy stories and songs. He has held many leadership roles within his tribe, including tribal governor, health educator, member of the tribal council and director of child welfare. 






Open: May 27 - September 30
Weekdays 10 am - 5 pm, Saturday & Sunday 2 - 5 pm
John Perkins House Bullet Demonstrations
July - August, Wednesday & Sunday, 2 - 5 pm
Group visits can be arranged by appointment.
(207) 326-9247   info@wilsonmuseum.org
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Admission is free, except for the John Perkins House,
where there are guided tours on the hour.
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A non-profit organization, tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) IRS Code
120 Perkins Street, PO Box 196, Castine Maine 04421
(207) 326-9247    info@wilsonmuseum.org