The Exhibit Barn

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, July 5, 2012 
Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society opens new exhibit barn

by Traci Martin

On Saturday, June 30, over a hundred supporters endured the heat to celebrate the official opening of the new exhibit barn at the Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. The new barn is part one of a two part expansion project that is currently under way. 

In the opening speech, Tinker Crouch called the exhibits in the barn, “a tribute to our island way of life.” Crouch continued her speech with stories of the early island settlers and asked that we not only look at the displays, “but think about and listen for the stories they tell.” At the close of the ceremony, Taylor Wiberg, a frequent visitor of the Society, and Marjorie Chesney, a long time dedicated docent of the society cut the ribbon to officially open the doors to the public.

Exhibit space in the barn is mostly dedicated to work life on the Island, including the former cobbler.  Lobster buoys are one of several new exhibits that celebrates the Island’s fishing industries.

With only a scale model to go by, John Ellsworth of Brooklin began construction of the new barn in November of 2009. Ellsworth used horses to haul the logs from the woods and his portable saw mill, set up in his barn, to prepare the beams and cut the joinery. The barn is held together by 300 pegs in the same manner that the Seller’s house, which was built in 1830 and is also on exhibit at the society, was constructed.

Both floors of the barn are filled with exhibits that Wes Norton, Island Fellow, and members of the society placed in the barn throughout the winter. Some exhibits, such as the Stonington Packing Company, are set up to model what it would have looked like in the actual factory many years ago. A shoe shop exhibit, fisheries exhibit, and Island Indians exhibits are a few of the others on display. 

The Chandler & Price Press was displayed in the print shop and demonstrated by Island Ad-Vantages editor and publisher Nat Barrows. This press was used on the Island starting in the 1890’s and through the 1980’s when it was put into storage until it took its place in the barn for all to enjoy.

LEFT:  Tinker Crouch, president of the historical society, addresses the crowd.

Linda Stratton said she feels that this whole project is huge for the society and the Island. “I wish that every single person on the island would come. [This project] has given a chance to display great things that have been stored in various buildings all over the Island for years.” 

The foundation has been set for phase two, the new archives expansion, and there are hopes of a pole barn addition to the new exhibit barn in the future. Crouch says that monetary donations are not all that have helped to make this possible. Many materials, use of machinery, and expertise of all kinds have also been donated.

There were too many donors for Crouch to list. To thank all donors, an honor roll will list each person and will be on display in the new archives expansion. She has high hopes phase two will be open next year at this time. She was also very excited to announce that the new archives expansion will not only have an expanded library and vault, but will also have a handicapped accessible bathroom with hot and cold running water. The Society has received a grant for Norton to start to develop audio and video interpretations of the archives that will be stored. 

LEFT: Carol Gotwals shows off the church organ in the “Churches of the Island” exhibit.  

RIGHT: Taylor Wiberg, left, and Marjorie Chesney
 cut the ribbon.  
All photos credited to Traci Martin

Crouch asks of all, “we are almost there—please join us on this walk to the finish.” Almost $350,000 of the $460,000 needed to complete the expansion project has been raised, but more donations are needed to complete it. Those interested in donating to this fund can stop by the historical society and pick up donor forms, as well as enjoy a little slice of Island history.

Deer Isle-Stonington Historical Society ✦ P O Box 652 ✦ Deer Isle,  ME  04627 ✦ 207-348-6400