WATERVILLE — Waterville’s past will be the topic Thursday as Belgrade author and historian Earl H. Smith talks about his new book, “Water Village, The Story of Waterville, Maine,” at the Waterville Opera House.

The event, scheduled for 5:30 to 7 p.m., will be hosted by the Mid-Maine Chamber of Commerce, which commissioned the writing of the book.

The 213-page history, published this year by North Country Press, tells the story of how Waterville came to be, starting in 1498 when European explorers came to the area and traded with Native Americans, to the present.

Smith, Colby College’s dean of the college, will read from his book after a reception in the foyer of Waterville City Hall catered by the Silver Street Tavern. Light refreshments and appetizers representing the city’s diverse culture will be served. Books will be available for purchase at the end of the evening and Smith will sign books as well.

Kimberly N. Lindlof, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer, said Monday that originally the chamber commissioned Smith to write a history of the chamber, but because the business community is so linked to the history of Waterville, the book morphed into a history of the city.

“We think that it’s vitally important, with all of the activity going on in Waterville and all the discussion about its future, to know where we’ve been,” Lindlof said.

After reading the book, Lindlof said, she learned a lot about the city that she did not know.

“And I think others will, too,” she said.

Lindlof will welcome the audience Thursday in the Opera House after the 5:30 p.m. reception in the lobby of City Hall. Dan Bernier, a local attorney and current vice president of the chamber’s board of directors, who also is the incoming president, will introduce Smith. Bernier’s late father, Albert, and brother, David, are former Waterville mayors.

A Waterville native, Smith has written five other books, including “Head of Falls,” a work of historical fiction about a teenage Lebanese girl growing up on the riverfront in 1950s Waterville.

His other books are “Mayflower Hill: A History of Colby College,” “With the Help of Friends, The Colby Museum of Art, The First Fifty Years, 1959-2009,” “The Dam Committee” and “More Dam Trouble.”

The only other comprehensive history of Waterville, “The Centennial History of Waterville,” was published in 1902 and edited by the Rev. Edwin Carey Whittemore.

Meanwhile, those wanting to pre-order Smith’s history book may contact Brittnae DeRoche, the chamber’s marketing director, at [email protected]

“Water Village” also is available at the Children’s Book Cellar on Main Street downtown, and copies will be available at Common Street Arts’ Holiday Bazaar to be held Wednesday through Dec. 23 on the first floor of the Hathaway Creative Center on Water Street. Bazaar hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. The bazaar also will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 23 but will be closed Nov. 22 and 23 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

[email protected]

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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