NEWCASTLE — The Frances Perkins Center has announced a “Last Dollar” Challenge to secure the purchase of the Frances Perkins Homestead. At the center’s 11th annual Garden Party on Aug. 18, board chairwoman Sarah Peskin announced that when the Frances Perkins Homestead Campaign: Seeking the Public Good receives $235,000 in additional gifts and pledges, she and her husband William Kelley will contribute the final $100,000 needed for the center to purchase this National Historic Landmark and conservation land, ensuring public access for generations to come, according to a news release from the center.

Frances Perkins and Balto at the Brick House. Photo courtesy of the Frances Perkins Center

In her announcement, she appealed, “Please join our “Last Dollar” pledge and help us to get this place removed from the “Maine’s Most Endangered Places” list!”

The “Last Dollar” gift deadline is Dec. 31. Meeting this challenge will enable the Frances Perkins Center to exercise a $1.6 million option agreement in time to purchase the 1837 Brick House, connected ells and barn, and 57 acres of Perkins family land that borders the Damariscotta River. Every dollar matters.

All new campaign gifts and pledges will move the Frances Perkins Center closer to meeting this “Last Gift” Challenge, completing Phase 1 (acquisition of the homestead) of the Perkins Center’s overall $5.5 million Homestead Capital Campaign initiative to preserve, renovate, and endow this nationally significant property in perpetuity, and use this facility to expand programming, according to the release.

In 2018, noting the potential sale of the Frances Perkins Homestead, Maine Preservation designated the homestead property as one of Maine’s most endangered historic places. Maine Preservation executive director Greg Paxton recently said, “The principal structures of the homestead, stewarded by the family, have survived nobly over 180 years, and now is the ideal time for the next chapter for this property… The center has demonstrated that it is an institution that has the ability, outreach and capacity to carry out this ambitious program. And like Margaret Chase Smith, Edmund Muskie and other distinguished Mainers, Frances Perkins is a nationally prominent figure that all of us should be proud of and seek to honor. With her national following, it is most fitting that she be honored here in Maine,” according to the release.

National Historic Landmark plaque of the Frances Perkins Homestead. Photo courtesy of the Frances Perkins Center

Located in Newcastle, the Frances Perkins Homestead, settled by the Perkins family in the mid-18th century, is a saltwater farm on the tidal Damariscotta River. Its 1837 brick house and connected barns sit on 57 acres within a protected landscape of fields and forest bounded by 2.8 miles of picturesque stone walls. The property contains Frances Perkins memorabilia, earlier homestead foundations, and remnants of the family’s brickworks, allowing the center to teach how this place shaped Perkins as someone dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans.

Sarah Peskin and William Kelley encourage readers to join them and be part of Frances Perkins’ legacy, adding, “Together, we can advance the principles of Frances Perkins, preserve the Frances Perkins Homestead, inspire learning among students, scholars, and people of all ages, and continue to engage civic leaders in nonpartisan dialogue through programs of learning and civil discourse to address 21st century economic and social issues,” according to the release.

Perkins was the first woman to serve in a U.S. Cabinet position. She was the Secretary of Labor under Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a driving force behind the New Deal. The Frances Perkins Center, founded in 2008, honors the legacy of Perkins by sharing her commitment to the principle that government should provide all its people with the best possible life, and by preserving the place that shaped her character. The center convenes leaders and future leaders in public policy, labor and related fields to generate creative solutions to today’s social and economic problems and teaches students of all ages about a remarkable woman whose work continues to improve the lives of ordinary Americans.

To learn how to help, contact Laura Chaney, development director at the Frances Perkins Center, at [email protected], or call 563-1367.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: