BREWER HISTORICAL SOCIETY NEWSLETTER
(Anniversary Year !!) In 2017 The Brewer Historical Society is celebrating 40 years of preserving and promoting the historical heritage of Brewer)
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T.C. Hanna , editor (989-2245) firstname.lastname@example.org
|Today’s news is tomorrow’s history|
The Brewer Historical Society would like to thank the following corporate sponsors and supporters
Alexanders Professional Landscaping
Camden National Bank
City of Brewer
Brewer High School Air Force Junior ROTC
Brewer Parks and Recreation
Creative Print Services
Dead River Company
Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems
Joseph Ferris, Esq.
Getchell Brothers Inc.
Gold Star Cleaners
Green Thumb Lawn Service
Marsh Property Management
Rand / Rand Dentistry
Scotts Lawn Service
TradeWinds Convenience Store
University of Maine Master Gardner Program
| FRIENDS OF CHAMBERLAIN FREEDOM PARK
Allen / Freeman / McDonnell Insurance
Machias Savings Bank
(Thank you for your support of Chamberlain Freedom Park and the Brewer Historical Society)
(The Brewer Historical Society newsletter is copied using the facilities at Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems. Thank you to EMHS and their staff.)
Twentieth Anniversary of Chamberlain-Freedom Park
By Brian Higgins
(When the Maine Department of Transportation rebuilt the Penobscot Bridge connecting Brewer and Bangor during the 1990s, the decision was made to widen the Brewer side approach. This entailed razing the historic John Holyoke house (then recognized as the Christmas house after the owners at that time). Brian Higgins, who was president of the Brewer Historical Society, led the struggle to save the house. Unfortunately, the house was ultimately torn down and the bridge approach built by the D.O.T. The space remaining, a prominent hillside, was leased to the Brewer Historical Society. With the aid of Legislator Richard Campbell, it was decided to create a park recognizing Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain as well as the role that Maine played in the Underground Railroad, an escape route used by slaves fleeing the South on their way to the freedom of Canada. The park is a representation of “Little Round Top”, the site in Gettysburg where Col Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, heroically defended the extreme left flank of the Union Army. For this he was given the Congressional Medal of Honor. Brian Higgins was responsible for raising money for the park along with hiring Glenn and Diane Hines to create two life size statues, one of Chamberlain and one of an escaping slave. Chamberlain-Freedom Park is an important part of Brewer and a destination for visitors. The Historical Society is grateful to Brian Higgins, Richard Campbell and all those who had the passion of their convictions.)
It is the twentieth anniversary of Chamberlain Freedom Park and fortieth anniversary of Brewer Historical Society…A moment in time yet a lifetime of remembrance. It is hard to believe it has been twenty years since the Chamberlain-Freedom Park was created. As I look back
at the cooperation among the City of Brewer, State of Maine, Department of Transportation, and the members of Brewer Historical Society and Clewley Museum, it all seems surreal and another lifetime ago.
It all started when I helped organize a Civil War regiment reenactment group. What later ensued was an experience never to forget. At the Bangor Historical Amos Kimball’s General Store Exhibit (where Cormier’s Clothing Store used to be in the old Merchant Bank Building) there was an event. I borrowed a Civil War hat from Mike Roberts to accompany a rented Civil War Chaplin uniform for attendance at the 1984 event of Bangor’s 150th Anniversary. And the rest, as they say, is history. As a result, that same year, Mike Roberts, Joe Smith, and myself started the 20th Maine Company B Re-enactment Group and set up base at Fort Knox in Bucksport, Maine.
Fort Knox was an amazing place to re-enact history. There were a lot of appearances over the next few years at museums, schools, Fort Knox Days, state parks, and historical societies. The demand could have made it a full time venture except there was no pay. While working with the Brewer Historical Society and the Ken Burn’s Special, “The Civil War”, it was obvious that portraying a Civil War general could benefit the Historical Society, the City of Brewer, and my history endeavors and adventures.
It was the right decision to study and portray Joshua L. Chamberlain. I spent hours, days, and weeks at the Bangor Seminary where Chamberlain studied, and in Brunswick researching and learning about this famous and important character in history. The opportunities to characterize as Chamberlain were endless: to work with Governors and Legislators, to rewrite a book, to be involved with speaking engagements (such as the joint Legislative Session in Augusta as Chamberlain), to explore living history, to literally plunge into horsemanship with my horse, Copper Saint, as Charlemagne, and to personally talk to Chamberlain’s Granddaughter, Grace Dupee Allen. The scariest part was riding my horse in Downtown Bangor with a thousand people lining the parade route.
I cannot forget working with all the great people of Bangor/Brewer Area. Many people encouraged me, among them were Wilma Anders of Brewer, who played Mrs. Chamberlain, the General’s mother; James Vickery, Maine historian and mentor; Amos Kimball, collector of artifacts and historian; H. H. Price, Portland author and historian for African Americans in Maine; Dick Campbell, friend and a strong force of political influence; and Diane and Glenn Hines, Maine sculptors. Forging relationships and creating teamwork are predominantly the two major keys to accomplishment.
That brings me to the creation of Chamberlain-Freedom Park and a National Monument, commissioning two statues, one of Joshua L. Chamberlain and the other, the “North to Freedom” Statue. The park itself is a one quarter scaled version of a battlefield, “Little Round Top” in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. My family and a few friends spent some time in Gettysburg one summer, researching and experiencing the place of Chamberlain’s battle.
It took approximately two years to construct Chamberlain-Freedom Park. An interesting challenge was laying one hundred feet of railroad tracks at the base of the hill at the head of the lower parking lot. I was disappointed that I could not have saved a historic landmark, the John Holyoke House (aka the Christmas House that was demolished in 1995), a way station on the Underground Railroad route, but in its place discovered a slave tunnel and a slave shirt, uncovering a part of Maine History, The Underground Railroad. If it had not been for the ambitious fortitude and hard work of Dick Campbell, Harriet Price, Gerald Talbot, the Abyssinian Meeting House, and myself, that little corner of Maine history, the corner of North Main Street and State Street, Brewer, may have been hidden forever.
The park (dedication November1997) illustrates that Maine was a major player in the Underground Railroad. The documentation of the slave shirt required working with forensic scientists and historians from Augusta to Washington, DC. Going to Washington to work with Rep. John Lewis and Senator Ted Kennedy to pass legislation for the National Underground Railroad Freedom Trail was a highlight in my life. Sailing out into Portland Harbor on the LaAmistad slave ship replica, joining the NAACP, going to Houston to the NAACP National Convention where also great memories.
I would like to thank all of the members of the Brewer Historical Society for their dedicated assistance and connection in these adventures. It was my pleasure to work with everyone. As well, I should not forget my wife, Sheila, and daughter, Kate, who made the biggest sacrifice to lend me out to these countless hours of many endeavors.
(Brian Higgins is Technology Consultant for Palo Alto VA Blind Center in California. He is a blind Navy Veteran who grew up in the Brewer area and received business degrees at both Beals and Husson in Bangor, Maine. He ran a photography studio for twenty-five years before losing most of his eyesight. During his interim search for a new career in blind rehabilitation he had a fiery passion for directing museums, first person historical interpretation, and building historic parks. Higgins resides now in Los Altos, California, and is currently pursuing his dream of creating a robot guide for the blind which he recently patented)
CHAMBERLAIN FREEDOM PARK
By Arthur C. Verow
“They’re tearing down the Christmas House,” my secretary said as I arrived at my
office. I walked over to my desk and looked out the window facing Church Street. Sure
enough a bulldozer, large excavator and other equipment and men operating them were
smashing and demolishing the large, Christmas House on the hill at the corner of State
and North Main Streets in the City of Brewer, Maine.
Over the years the house was framed prominently for my viewing from the
window of my office. I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I was watching the loss of a
city landmark. I knew this day would come as the removal of this historic brick house
was deemed, by engineers of the State Department of Transportation, to be necessary to
widen the intersection as part of the project to replace the Penobscot Bridge connection
Brewer and Bangor.
This was 1996 and I had to accept the fact that the Christmas House would no
longer be part of daily view from my office window. I moved my desk so that I would
face another wall and window facing the First Congregation Church. Then I called my
wife and told her about this. That evening when I arrived home from work, she surprised
me with a bonsai tree in sympathy for the loss of my view.
There had been hope that something or someone would come along and change
the plan and spare the house. The Christmas property had changed hands after the
Christmas family closed its carpet business which was operated out of the large barn
attached to the house. The most recent owners took the money the State offered them
under the eminent domain procedure, cleaned out the house and left.
Although the house was known as the Christmas House it was originally the
Holyoke House. John Holyoke was a wealthy business man and an abolitionist. It was
generally believed that this house was a station on the Underground Railroad, a safe place
for slaves escaping from the South to take refuge on their journey to the safety of Canada
The Brewer Historical Society had great interest in preserving the Holyoke land
for a park. The hope was that it could be turned into a replication of the venerable left
flank at Little Round Top in the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. Brewer native son
Joshua Chamberlain was the commander of the 20th Maine Volunteers, the unit that was
credited with holding the left flank and stopping Rebel forces from conquering that
important site. Historians have cited the Battle of Gettysburg as a turning point in the
The Brewer Historical Society, led by Brian Higgins and Dick Campbell, had a
vision and design for this replication. The Historical Society approached the State of
Maine for permission to lease the site as a memorial to both General Chamberlain and the
Underground Railroad. The State agreed with this request and leased the site to the
Brewer Historical Society until September 30, 2007, under terms of the lease it could be
extended for ten years beyond that date.
With lease in hand, the project designed by Higgins and Campbell was undertaken by construction crews and the project, financed by funds raised from a public
campaign, came to fruition and was officially dedicated in 1997. Today, visitors to the
park can become informed about Chamberlain, the battle of Gettysburg and the
Underground Railroad by reading accounts of him and them located on display boards
throughout the park.
To lend authenticity to the replication, large stones were strategically placed on
“the left flank” among trees and other growth to create the look of a battlefield scene.
There is also a bronze statue of Chamberlain looking to the south where he made his
mark in Civil War history, as president of Bowdoin College and Governor of the State of
Maine. The statue was sculpted by Houlton artists Glenn and Diane Hines and erected in
- It was officially dedicated in a public ceremony on November 11th of that year.
Another statue was later created by the Hines. This was named “North to
Freedom” and depicts a runaway slave looking back toward the South and leaning to the
north as he hoists himself out of an underground tunnel to freedom. This is the only
official memorial to the Underground Railroad in the State of Maine.
A granite base has been set in the park for another statue. This one will be of
Harriett Tubman, a nurse and abolitionist who is credited with aiding many slaves to
escape. Funds are currently being solicited for that statue.
In the meantime, the Brewer Historical Society continues to maintain the park under its extended lease from the state.
In addition to dedicated historical society members, many other individuals and
organizations, including the Boy Scouts and Brewer H. S. Air Force ROTC, help with
this effort. Such support is vital to keeping this important park in good repair and
attractive to visitors to the city.
Among annual events held at the park is the JUNETEENTH Celebration. This is
a ceremonial event to recognize June 19, 1865. That was the date, two years after the
Emancipation Proclamation, that news that the Civil War was over reached the State of
Texas and that slaves were now free.
After Thought. As for the bonsai tree, that along with the Christmas House or, if
you prefer, the Holyoke House, is just a memory. Lost from an absence of care and
(Arthur “Archie” Verow” spent 40 years as Brewer City Clerk. On retirement he became a Brewer City Councilor and City Mayor. During this period he helped create the Brewer Historic Resources Advisory Board, which informs the Brewer City Council of important historic community developments. He also created the Brewer Register of Historic Places, a program which recognizes historically important sites in the City. Recently, Archie has recently been an elected Maine State Representative to the Legislature, representing Brewer and the community. His contributions to the City of Brewer cannot be overestimated)
Chamberlain-Freedom Park Today
By David Hanna
In the twenty years since the creation of Chamberlain-Freedom Park, the essence of the park remains a tribute to Brewer native and Civil War hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain as well as to the commemoration of the Underground Railroad movement in Brewer. The park is truly a collaborative effort between the Brewer Historical Society and the community. The City recognizes the importance of the park, both as history and importance. This is a community project with the Brewer Historical Society maintaining the park along with support from many of the City programs and departments; including the Brewer City Council, Brewer Parks and Recreation, Brewer Public Works, and Brewer Economic Development.
Within the last few years the Historical Society has renewed the lease from Maine Department of Transportation and refurbished areas that needed attention.
A renewed advertising sign board provides space for businesses to receive recognition from everyone who crosses the Penobscot Bridge. These businesses are critical to the costs of maintaining the park and the Historical Society and without their generous support we would not be able to provide service to the community.
The “Bulwarks” fence that represents the 20th Maine Regiment defense on “Little Roundtop” in Gettysburg has been completely rebuilt in cedar, thanks to the Eagle Scout project of Samuel Gardiner.
The interpretive history sign at the top entrance has been redone to accurately reflect the tribute to General Chamberlain and the Underground Railroad. This is meant to be a part of the 2005 Historic Waterfront Trail Committee recommendations. In addition, the park is on the Brewer Register of Historic Places with a marker at the entrance to draw attention to the historic Holyoke house and the establishment of the park in 1997. A similar sign in the lower section pays tribute to the Underground Railroad.
Maintenance of the park is a community project involving members of the Brewer Historical Society, along with the Brewer High School Air Force Junior ROTC. Their input is invaluable in maintaining the steep bank brush growth. In addition, a landscape company does routine lawn maintenance and reinforces the work of the ROTC. In 2016 the University of Maine Agricultural Extension Service, Master Gardener Program provided a Master Gardener volunteer who has designed and upgraded the garden areas.
The Brewer Historical Society owes a debt of gratitude to the Brewer Public Works department for helping with lights and engineering questions.
Each year hundreds of visitors come to the park and it is home to the annual “Juneteenth” celebration of the freeing of slaves. The park is also a backdrop to community efforts that recognize General Chamberlain and the Civil War. Students and organizations are given talks about the importance of Brewer’s involvement in historical events.
World War I Topic of April Membership Meeting
The April 11th meeting of the Brewer Historical Society featured a talk by Barney Thompson, David Hanna, David Bergquist and Dick Shaw regarding World War I. Hanna spoke about the creation of the “Bangor / Brewer First World War Centennial Committee” and events planned to recognize the importance of World War I in Bangor and Brewer. The “First World War Centennial Committee” is an interdisciplinary organization that joins the Brewer Historical Society and The Maine Infantry Foundation in a program to commemorate the entry if the United States into World War I (April 6, 1917) and follows the effects of this action both at home and abroad until the end (November 11, 1918). The Committee motto is “Preserving our Past to protect our future” and has a mission statement, “To learn from the sacrifice of the men and women of the Bangor/Brewer area during World War I in order to help us guide our future”. The Committee is an integral part of state and regional programs developed to maintain this commitment. Thompson recapped an overview of the War emphasizing the horrific conditions in which the War was waged and the ultimate death of 16 million people. Bergqust and Shaw described the effects of the War here in the area; the need to raise money, conserve material, and provide soldiers, nurses and ancillary personnel. The results of the Armistice and Treaty of Versailles at the end of the war is being felt today.
BANGOR/BREWER FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENNIAL COMMITTEE ….EVENTS
March 1……………………………Brewer Historical Society Newsletter dedicated to WWI
March 14- End of Year……..Brewer Community School (grades Pre-k – 8th) WWI Display Case
March 25 – April 6……………Brewer Public Library WWI display
April 6………………………………WWI article in the Bangor Daily News by David Bergquist and Richard Shaw
April 6………………………………Press release by First World War Centennial Committee (Armory)
April 11…………………………….Talk to Brewer Historical Society membership meeting and Community
7PM, Brewer First Methodist Church, 450 S. Main St., Brewer
April 11……………………………Lecture, “The American Experience in WWI”
1:30 Little Hall, University of Maine, 4 PM, Professor Donald Zillman
May 15…………………………….The Brewer Library purchased the PBS mini-series DVD, “The Great War”
Summer Displays……………..The Brewer Historical Society will present a WWI display at several locations
June 28 – July 3………………..WWI Display at Brewer Auditorium
July 4……………………….……….Brewer Historical Society vehicle in Independence Day parade (WWI theme)
November 8……………………..Program at Brewer Kiwanis on WWI
November 9th and 10th………Veterans programs at Brewer High School……
Veterans Assembly November 9th
Smithsonian film on cave art in trenches during WWI with discussion /
Musical support by 195th AB November 10th
( For more information please call David Hanna at 989-2245 or Barney Thompson at 989-6165)
Sarah Maxsimic Awarded Brewer Historical Society Scholarship
Sarah Maxsimic was awarded this year’s Brewer Historical Scholarship. The $1000 scholarship is available to a Brewer High School senior planning to attend a technical school program, 2 year or 4 year college. In order to receive the scholarship the student must successfully complete first semester and be enrolled full time in second semester. The scholarship is paid to the college in behalf of the student and will be used for tuition, books or required supplies. The scholarship is awarded based upon community service and the completion of a short essay on why he or she feels that history is important to Brewer and how his or her future education applies to this importance.
Sarah Maxsimic is involved with Brewer High School and the community. She is a member of the student council, National Honor Society, student ambassadors, rifle team, Brewer Youth Theater, Se Beowulf, field hockey, as well as indoor and outdoor track. She volunteers in the community as a Salvation Army Bell Ringer and soup kitchen server.
The Brewer Historical Society is pleased to present this scholarship to Sarah and wish her well in her future education.
Mataya Philbrick Scans Brewer Register for the Brewer Historical Society.
The Brewer Historical Society was given a donation by former City Councilor Larry Doughty of a 1980’s Brewer newspaper, the Brewer Register. These 100 newspapers are the only known copies and provide a capsule of Brewer life during that period. It is also important that author Stephen King often wrote Op/Ed pieces for the paper. The papers have been accessed and preserved and now have been scanned for inclusion on the internet.
Adam Fisher of the Maine State Library has provided a sophisticated scanner to the Bangor Public Library and made it available for local use. Mataya Philbrick, a Brewer High School student took on the task of scanning the newspapers as part of a school Key Club project. Over the course of the winter she has scanned the newspapers which will preserve them and make them available on the internet.
Her dedication to this project was honored at a Kiwanis Club ceremony this May.
Master Sergeant Della Gleason Discusses “Women in the Military”
MSGT Della Gleason of the Maine Air National Guard (retired) entertained and informed the May Brewer Historical Society membership meeting with an interesting account of her career and the changing role of women in the military.
Her story was one of a family’s commitment to the military and to the service of their country. Her parents, her husband, and her children have all carried on the tradition. Her family has provided a combined 180 years of military service. Truly an amazing act of dedication.
MSgt Gleason was married in 1971 to her husband, a recruiter for the Maine Air National Guard. After his deployment to Hawaii, he suggested that she enlist also. So, as a 32 years old and a mother, she entered basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
……………………………………………… Recipe Courtesy of Charlene and Bruce Bowden
She indicated how difficult it was for a 32 year old woman to complete the physical effort needed to graduate from Basic Training when all the other recruits were at least 10 years younger.
Over the years she was in information management both in the United States and abroad, including two tours of duty to the Middle East. She remembers that after the September 11, 1991 attacks on the twin towers in New York, all Guard units were recalled to duty in preparation for more attacks.
MSGT Gleason then discussed changes regarding women in the military. In 1948 women were first enrolled in the Air Force and over time they have played an increasingly prominent role in the service. Today women are serving in all phases of military activities including combat situations. She notes that fifteen percent of the Air National Guard is now women.
Aunt Rose’s Gingerbread
Recipe Courtesy of Charlene and Bruce Bowden
|1 cup molasses
½ cup sugar
½ cup shortening, melted
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
|1 level teaspoon ginger
1 level teaspoon cloves
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 ½ cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons soda in flour
Mix all together well, then add 1 cup of very warm leftover coffee or tea… either one will be good.
Add a little vanilla, perhaps a teaspoon, if you wish.
Bake at 350° for 30–45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Serve slightly warm, with fresh whipped cream.
I don’t recall who “Aunt Rose” was; she was not a blood relative of ours, but a close friend of my maternal grandparents’. The recipe probably dates to the early 1900s, certainly prior to WWII.
I don’t recall what size pan Charlene uses; perhaps an 8 x 8? If not, then certainly a 9 x 13.
Personally speaking, when I make this recipe I add 1/8 teaspoon of freshly-ground black pepper (ground fine); I believe the pepper accentuates the other flavors.
Brewer Historical Society Board and Officers
President Charlotte Thompson… 989-6165
Vice President Frank Gallant………… 989-1565
Treasurer Earl Seymour………… 989-1294
Recording Secretary Gary Lowe……………….852-0005
Corresponding Secretary T.C. Hanna……………… 989-2245
Accessions and Archives David Hanna……………..989-2245
William Hayes……………………………………….. 989-5613
Jean Lyford………………………………………….. 989-3094
Lee Mathews……………………………………….… 945-4332
Ron Kittredge………………………………………… 989-2739
Brewer City Historical Liaison….Matthew Vachon… 974-8844