HARTLAND — The Hartland Historical Society now has its first-ever home in an old mansion on Elm Street where it can finally house and display old documents, paperwork, furniture, clothing and other items stored around town in basements and barns.

The nonprofit society on Friday purchased the three-story house with more than 10 rooms at 83 Elm St., often referred to as the Fuller Mansion for the family that had it built in 1904. It also is referred to as the Scotch Thistle House for a business the Fuller family operated many years ago.

About 50 townspeople, including society members, arrived to watch history in the making — the signing of legal documents transferring ownership. They clapped and whooped and cheered.

“It means quite a lot to me,” said 97-year-old resident Harlan Emery, who sat in the front row. “My sister, Hilda Nutter, started the historical society in 2001 with Myrtle Marble. They’d be ecstatic, I’ll tell you, they really would be, because they worked hard.”

Nutter and Marble are gone now and likely never dreamed the society would be able to raise the thousands of dollars needed to buy its own home.

But thanks to two determined society members, treasurer Deborah Tapley and board member Stacy Halford, and with help from Elmer Littlefield, dream became reality. The women launched a fundraiser two years ago and pushed hard to raise funds.


They hit up friends, relatives, people who attended the former Hartland Academy many years ago and anyone else they could think of to donate. At first they hoped to raise $2,000 to start renting a room to display and store historical items, but when they surpassed that goal, they forged on.

“We kept pecking away at it and then this house came on the market and I made a call,” Tapley recalled.

Acquiring the building was the effort of a lot of people, the women said, including society members who are determined to preserve the town’s history.

The old house has been vacant several years and was purchased by out-of-state residents as an investment, but they decided to sell it. The house once served as a boarding home and has two kitchens, a large dining area and parlor, living room, fireplace, seven bedrooms and three bathrooms.

Halford got her first job at the boarding home when she was 16. She wrote a book about Hartland history for the town’s bicentennial in 2020.

“The privilege of buying this house plants a seed for the town to have a fun time to look forward to and document our history as we move forward,” said Halford, whose late mother, Joyce, was town clerk for many years. “My sentence has been, as I started writing the history book, ‘Today’s events are tomorrow’s history.'”


Travis Halford is seen through the window Friday while sitting in the living room of Hartland Historical Society’s new and first-ever home in Hartland. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

The home’s original woodwork is in place, as are ornate windows, light fixtures and a grand staircase that will be uncovered once renovations are underway. The Historical Society plans to apply for grants and raise money for renovations, and members hope to be able to show at least the first floor to the public this year.

“We would like to have an open house by the end of the summer,” Tapley said.

Historical Society President Dorothy Humphrey and board member Hadley Buker welcomed visitors Friday, with Buker saying the society plans to develop an educational and research center on the second floor where people can research genealogy, and the society will coordinate educational opportunities with local schools.

It was sunny and warm Friday as people of all ages filtered in and out of the house, where two, giant red maple trees greeted them on the front lawn.

Emery, the 97-year-old whose sister co-founded the Historical Society, recalled living across the street as a child.

“That was back in the mid-’30s and another kid and I used to come out back here and slide down the hill,” he said.


The society takes donations via its website, thehhs.me. Society member Bruce Fowler, the organization’s vice president, historian and website coordinator, noted that many pages of historical documents are on the website, including photos of the Fuller Mansion when it was in its glory.

Callie Burnham, at left, and Alannah Halford play while holding hands Friday in the second parlor room in the Hartland Historical Society’s first-ever home. Anna Chadwick/Morning Sentinel

The house was commissioned by Mary Isabelle Linn Fuller, after her husband, Henry Clay Fuller, died. They had been married in 1874 and he died in 1903. She lived in the house with a son after it was built. In 1863, Mary’s father had built the original Linn Woolen Mill, which later would become the Irving Tannery. Her father hired her husband, Henry, to work at the mill and he became manager and later, president, under the name Linn Manufacturing Co.

In 1901, he expanded operations with a new business venture, operating as the Fuller-Osborne Co., which produced clothing, including the nationally-famous Sebasticook Walking skirt, according to the society’s website. The company also was involved in real estate and newspaper printing and ran a greenhouse operation, it says.

Henry Fuller built his first greenhouse on Elm Street and operated it as Scotch Thistle Greenhouses. That is why, after his death and the building of the Fuller Mansion, people often referred to the mansion as the Scotch Thistle House.

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