There are few things as important to a community as preserving its heritage.

In Waterville, there is no greater evidence of that than in the work the Waterville Historical Society has done to keep the city’s history and heritage alive.

The society last year celebrated the 200th anniversary of the construction of its Redington Museum on Silver Street.

The two-story Federal-style house was built in 1814 by Asa Redington, an early settler of the city, affluent businessman, Revolutionary War veteran and member of General George Washington’s elite Honor Guard.

Built for Redington’s son, William, with hand-hewn timbers and wide pumpkin pine floors, the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Redington family used the home for three generations, and then Asa Redington’s granddaughter-in-law sold it to the historical society for $10 in 1924 with the society’s promise to use it as its headquarters, as well as a museum.

That generosity and foresight have afforded children and adults an important and exquisite venue for preserving the treasures of our past and teaching us about those who helped build the city and pave the way for us to continue that work.

The museum is lovely with rooms furnished as they would have been many years ago. There’s the parlor with its fireplace near Asa Redington’s desk and the kitchen with a huge fireplace and bake oven featuring cooking utensils from years ago and china used during the time when William Redington was alive.

A formal dining room is furnished with items from the Boutelle family, also early settlers, including carved Hepplewhite chairs, a banjo clock, an Empire table and buffet.

A magnificent feature of the museum is the LaVerdiere Apothecary, a large room set up like an actual pharmacy, complete with a prescription preparation counter, soda fountain, pharmaceutical antiques and mahogany, brass and glass cases, much of which was donated by the LaVerdiere family.

Upstairs in the museum, bedrooms are furnished and tastefully decorated as they would have been in the 1700s and 1800s. A children’s room features a Victorian dollhouse, toys, dishes and portraits of actual children from the 19th century.

Last year at this time, the museum hosted an open house, according to the society’s president, Frederic P. Johnson. Sarah Sugden, museum curator, organized the historical society’s participation in a three-day festival, “Ticonic Tales of the Colonial Era: 1700-1800.”

The Waterville Public Library, of which Sugden is director, the Winslow Public Library, Taconnet Falls Chapter of the Maine Genealogical Society and Fort Halifax Park Improvement Project Committee got involved and more than 20 volunteer docents led tours of the museum.

The Central Maine Garden Club, which helps care for the museum’s gardens, made a significant contribution by doing extra beautification work and having a cedar archway built at the backyard’s entrance, according to Johnson. Fairfield Drafting & Construction Co. built the archway and supplied free labor. The Garden Club also built a patio and stone seating area in the garden.

Johnson notes the contributions of other businesses, organizations and nonprofit entities such as Colby College that help the museum to remain vital. The museum’s resident custodians, Bryan and Bonny Finnemore, spent months last year painting and redeveloping the display area on the second floor, and they continue to help maintain the building and grounds.

It really does take a community to ensure that treasures such as the Redington Museum are preserved for generations to come. The building is old, and old buildings need continual maintenance, restoration, nurturing and tender loving care, not to mention funds.

The museum, at 62 Silver St., is open Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend but is open through October by appointment as well.

There are many ways to support the museum, and officials there may be reached at [email protected] or 872-9439.

As we wend our way into the holidays and think about gifts that will continue giving long after we are gone, the nonprofit Redington Museum seems an especially deserving recipient.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 27 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.


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