PITTSTON — The $200,000 historic restoration of Reuben Colburn’s 1765 home, carriage house and barn is close to completion.

Tom Desjardin, historian for the state Bureau of Parks & Land, said the three-year project will end in June. Then the home of Colburn, who helped Colonel Benedict Arnold on his Revolutionary War expedition to Quebec City, will once again be open for tours in July and August.

Desjardin said it’s been 30 years since anything has been done to the state’s historic site.

He said workers have been putting the finishing touches on Colburn’s home, including an old Greek Revival style door surround that includes door pillars and the door step.

The caretaker’s residence in the L of the house was gutted and restored with all new walls, floors, fixtures and appliances.

Inside the main house, the brick face of the main fireplace has been removed so a mason could return the fireplace and beehive oven to its original state.


The carriage house had to be jacked up and posts replaced. Artifacts from Arnold’s 1775 expedition to Quebec will be on display in the carriage house this summer.

Workers will soon timber-frame the barn. The entire floor of the 19th-century barn had to be removed so it could be jacked up. It had sunk so deep into the ground that the doors were prevented from opening, Desjardin said.

“What we’ve been working on is the bottom part of the barn,” Desjardin said. “The first week of April we’ll drop it down to the ground, do the sheathing, put clapboards over that and then the joists and foor-boards inside. We’re also working on barn doors. Basically everything 2 feet from the ground up was rotted, so we had to rebuild the bottom.”

He said the doors have been replaced along with all the posts on the inside. To allow for people to walk under the haylofts without bumping heads, the posts were made 1 foot taller.

“The middle goes all the way up to the ceiling, but there’s haylofts on either side,” he said. “Now they can walk right under them without having to crouch down. This summer we’ll be able to have weddings, and family reunions, and picnics in there.”

Funding for the Colburn House restoration came from several sources, including $25,000 from the November 2007 bond issue; a $7,000 donation from the Arnold Expedition Historical Society; $6,000 in labor from the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office; and $10,000 from Jewett Construction Co. of Pittston. Desjardin said there were also private donors and many hours of volunteer work.


“The state donated $60,000, which was seed money to get started,” he said. “Once the project began, people were willing to help out.”

Desjardin said Reuben Colburn built the house in 1765. Colburn was also a businessman, and his sawmill, gristmill and boatyard provided services to local settlers.

He said Colburn played a big part in planning the Continental Army expedition led by Arnold through Maine to battle the British Army for control of Quebec City. Arnold insisted a way could be found through Maine to Quebec despite belief at the time that there was no way through the mountains.

Colburn provided Arnold’s army with 220 wooden boats, known as bateaux, to travel up the Kennebec.

Arnold made ultimately made it to Quebec City, but the Continental attack on the British Army, who held the walled city, failed. Arnold was injured and it is considered the first major defeat for the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War.

Desjardin said the Colburn family owned the house until 1941, when they bequeathed it to the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. It was later sold to the state.

More information about the state’s historic site can be found at maine.gov/colburnhouse.

Mechele Cooper — 621-5663

[email protected]

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