“Today’s news is tomorrow’s history”

Fall 2015


T.C. Hanna , editor (989-2245) /
The Brewer Historical Society would like to thank the following corporate sponsors and supporters:
City of Brewer
Brewer Federal Credit Union
Brewer High School Air Force Junior ROTC
Brewer Parks and Recreation
Camden National Bank
Dead River Company
Eastern Maine Development Corporation
Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems
Joseph Ferris, Esq.
Getchell Brothers Inc.
Gold Star Cleaners
Green Thumb Lawn Service
PC Rescue Help
Rand / Rand Dentistry
Scotts Lawn Service
TradeWinds Convenience Store
Atlantic Designs
Cross Insurance
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)


“Chamberlain Days” Comes to Brewer

The Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick added a bus tour to Brewer as part of its annual “Chamberlain Days” festivities. “Chamberlain Days” is a major summer event in Brunswick providing tours and activities that recognize Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. This year, the Society added a historic bus tour to Brewer, the birthplace and childhood home of Chamberlain.

On Sunday August 9th a bus from Brunswick brought approximately twenty five tour members to Brewer. Jennifer Blanchard, Director of the Pejepscot Historical Society was the tour guide and ambassador for the group. The bus was met at the Brewer Auditorium by Brewer Mayor, Matthew Vachon along with Maine State Representative, Arthur Verow, and Brewer Historical Society Board member Bill Hayes. Parks and Recreation Director, Ken Hanscom, lit up the Auditorium electric sign with a “welcome”. Bill Hayes proceded to orient the group regarding the Chamberlain family history in Brewer. This was followed by a visit to the Clewley Museum for refreshments and an orientation to the museum and Chamberlain artifacts.

After a lunch at the High Tide Restaurant, which included a talk about the personal life of Chamberlain by Brewer Historical Society member Jean Lyford, the tour stopped at the First Congregational Church where Historical Society member Brittany Goetting discussed the history of the church with special reference to the Chamberlain family. Brittany is doing graduate research on the church and archiving their historic material.

At that point, the tour was joined by State Representative Richard Campbell of Orrington. He discussed the creation of Chamberlain-Freedom Park. Representative Campbell, along with then Brewer Historical Society president Brian Higgins, developed the site when the historic Holyoke house was razed; a result of widening the approach to the new Penobscot bridge.

The tour continued to 350 North Main Street, the birthplace of Chamberlain. Owner and Brewer Historic Resources Advisory Board member Dan Moellentin discussed the house and the preservation work that he had done to make this one of the finest historic homes in Brewer.

The final destination was 80 Chamberlain Street where Chambertlain grew to manhood and which remained in the Chamberlain-Farrington families until the 1950s. This house is owned by Earl Sherwood and is a major historical site.

The tour was a tremendous success and we thank Jennifer Blanchard and the Pejepscot Historical Society for allowing Brewer the opportumnity to participate in the “Chamberlain Days’ festivities.

(A special thank you to Charlotte Thompson, Fran Verow, Ellen Thompson,T.C. Hanna, Phyllis Earley and Betty Lou Sibley for their help in the project and Shelby Hartin for her excellent Bangor Daily News article regardng the tour
Librarian Katie Connor speaks to Brewer Historical Society

Brewer Public Library’s Katie Conner, entertained and enlightened the Brewer Historical Society at the June 5th membership meeting. Katie has just completed her first year as head librarian and has developed the library into one of Brewer’s cultural highlights.

The opportunity for a community library in Brewer had a slow start. it originated with small organizational libraries during the 1820s. It was not until July of 1907 that approximately thirty people met at City Hall to develop a permanent free public library.
Previously, the cost of maintaining these libraries was obtained by the organizations that provided the service.

In 1910 there were actually two Brewer libraries, one in South Brewer and one in in North Brewer. Brewer author and naturalist Fannie Hardy Eckstorm was a guiding light in the development of the library system. The costs involved were provided by sales, dues and donations.

By 1920 there was some municipal funding available, but most was private. It would not be until 1975 the the Brewer municipality funded the libarary and annexed it as a city department.

By the 1990s the existing space at for the rooms at City Hall site were insufficient for the increasing number of book volumes and the staff required to provide service. So, in 2007 the City voted to provide a new building at the corner of School Street and South Main Street. This new building houses over 33,000 book titles and 1800 DVDs. It has space for a children’s library, story room, historical research area , computer section, private meeting rooms, archive space and offices.

The library is open 48 hours a week and is staffed with both paid and volunteer workers. There is a book club, book delivery, and computer assistance. There is free “” and access to “Maine Memory Network” as well as the internet.

If you haven’t been to the Brewer Public Library recently, it is a wonderful place to do research, enjoy the facilities and to peruse the wide selection of books, audio and video disks, publications, archive material, computer programs and periodicals. Katie and her staff are always available to help.
Chamberlain – Freedom Park Focus of Eagle Scout project

Sam Gardner, son of Brewer Historical Society members and “Brewer Register of Historic Places” home owners Doug and Lisa Gardner, redid the bulwark fence at Chamberlain-Freedom Park as his Eagle Scout project. The fence is a replica of the fortifications used at Gettysburg during the defence of Little Roundtop by Brewer native Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. The park was originally created by Brian Higgins and Richard Campbell in 1997. Over the years the original split rail fence had deteriorated and was crumbling in several places.

Sam presented his idea for the project to the Historical Society Board this spring and received permission to proceed. Historical Society Vice-President Alan King, formerly a scout master, was the liaison officer for the project. Sam’s plan was to purchase new rails and rebuild the fence both at the upper and lower levels of the park. With the help of his parents, Sam raised money from a very successful yard sale at the Brewer First Methodist Church, bottle money through the North Brewer Redemption Center, individual donations and a contribution by the Historical Society.

The highest award in Scouting is to be an Eagle Scout and to earn that distinction, the scout must develop and complete a major project. Sam decided on the fence at Chamberlain -Frededom Park after discussing various options with Brewer Historical Society members. The fence is a major improvement and will contribute to the aesthetics and authenticity of this “Brewer Register of Historic Places” site.

Chamberlain-Freedom Park was developed when the State of Maine rebuilt the Penobscot Bridge. In order to widen the approach, the State had to raze the historic John Holyoke house. That house was a Brewer landmark and a stop on the Underground Railroad, a trail used by escaping slaves on their way to freedom in Canada. The land was leased to the Historical Society and the park developed as an interpretation of Gettysburg’s Little Round Top by then president Brian Higgins and State Representative Richard Campbell. The park has statues of Joshua L. Chamberlain and also an escaping slave.

The Brewer Historical Society maintains the park. Because the organization is a volunteer non-profit, it depends on community support to help in that effort. Advertising signs provide a major revenue source for the Society. In recent years the Brewer High School Air Force Junior ROTC, has helped maintain the grounds along with routine volunteer support from Bob Daigle, Lee Mathews and David Hanna among others. The City of Brewer is very generous and the public works Department helps with any repairs or improvements. The park is a truly a community project.

(A special thank you to Dick Morse, Barney Thompson, Betty Lou Sibley, Wes Sibley, T.C. Hanna, Bob Daigle and Tony Campbell for helping in preparing the park for summer)
Clewley Museum Rennovations

Over the last two years, rennovation of the Clewley Museum has been a major Historical Society project. Three years ago, with the generous support of the City of Brewer, a building from the old Washington School site was transported through the early morning streets of Brewer, placed on a pad behind the Clewley museum and now acts as the Resource Center for the Historical Society. It is a repository for archives, business procedures and meetings. The addition of a Resource Center allowed a change in the focus of the museum to a site dedicated for display and historical interpretation. The interior of the building has been redone to provide a glimpse into early 1900 Brewer family life. The outside of the building has been sided, including soffits and fascia. A new entry way has been added. The carriage house / barn was supported and painted. The driveway has been expanded and graded. A heat exchange pump was added in the winter of 2014 to be more energy efficient and to provide both heat and air conditioning. His will help preserve the museum contents and make the building more comfortable.

An ad hoc committee composed of Bill Hayes, Barney Thompson, Bob Daigle, Alan King and David Hanna discussed the options for each phase of the project, hired the contractors and monitored the result. Mayor and Brewer Historical Society City Liaison Matthew Vachon was instrumental in obtaining City help this summer. We owe a special thanks to Public Works Director David Cote and the City of Brewer.

President Charlotte Thompson has opened the museum for every Thursday afternoon from 1PM to 3 PM in July, August and September as well as for special events including the Pejepscot Historical Society’s “Chamberlain Days” bus tour. Thank you to all those who volunteered to be hosts for these open hours and events.

“Memories of Maine” Publishes “Paper Making in Brewer”

“Memories of Maine will publish an article prepared by the Brewer Historical Society for its issue to be distributed in late September or early October this year. This is the second article about Brewer industries written by the Historical Society. A year ago “Brick Making in Brewer” was published in the same magazine.

“Paper Making in Brewer” is the story of the Eastern Manufacturing Company (later Eastern Fine Paper Company). Its history began with the vision of Fred Ayer in the late 1800s and continued through the final closing of the paper mill in 2004. Eastern Manufacturing dominated the industry of Brewer for about a century, creating generations of jobs and a creating a unique sub-culture in South Brewer. It was this South Brewer culture that the article highlighted.

Former City Councilor and Mayor Manley Debeck provided incite into a community that revolved around the paper mill. Manley grew up in South Brewer and worked at the mill for a number of years. He spoke of the businesses, schools, churches and life-style that evolved during the prosperity of the community

With text by David Hanna, reference material from the Easterrn Fine Paper archives and Manley Debeck’s interview, the article presents a good overview of the industry. “Memories of Maine” is distributed to several businesses in the area and copies are available from the Brewer Historical Society. If you are interested in obtaining a copy, please contact David Hanna at 989-2245

Ways and Means Activities for the Summer

Thw “Ways and Means” committee is an important source of revenue for the Brewer Historical Society. Their projects this summer included participating in the Annual Garden Club Sale at the Clewley Museum. President Charlotte Thompson used the opportunity to have an outdoor table with garden related items that would compliment the plants offered by the Garden Club.

In July, Camden National Bank allowed the Historical Society to use its lobby as a venue for a bake sale. The bank also provided free hot dogs and the Historical Society members donated tasty baked goods. A special thank you to Phyllis Earley, Pam Harris, Joanne Black, Ellen Thompson, Jean Lyford, Charlotte Thompson, and T.C. Hanna for their contribution. Also thank you to Camden National Bank Manager Cynthia Bergin for authorizing the project.

In September the Annual Spaghetti Supper and Silent Auction will be held during “Brewer Days”, September 12th at 5PM, in the lower rooms of the Auditorium. This is a major fund raising event of the year and everyone is encouraged to attend. It is always a lot of fun and helps the organization become better known in the community. You can contact Charlotte Thompson at 989-5580 for more information
Lee Mathews and the Seashore Trolley Museum

The Bangor Daily News published an article this July on the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport. The focus of the article was in restoring a maine trolley car that had been used by President Roosevelt for stumping his new “Bullmoose Party” back in 1914. The paper also did a nice separate article about Brewer Historical Society past-president Lee Mathews and his 52 years as a member of the trolley museum. Lee is still a licensed Trolley car operator and gives rides around the half-hour loop at the museum. Trolley cars are a major source of enjoyment to Lee and it is wonderful for him to have been recognized for his passion and commitment.
Phyllis the Fudge Lady

Phyllis Earley has made a name for herself with her now famous peanut butter fudge. She always has a batch ready for monthly meetings with enough extra to send home with her fans. She also makes sure that she makes her irresistable fudge for bake sales and open houses. Always a good seller. I also hear she does fudge for the church too! At one of our recent bake sales things were slow. Getting customers to to visit our table can be challenging. I remember seeing the line doing business and not being able to get them to our table. Then I announced peanut butter fudge! One gentleman commented that he didn’t know we had fudge!!! That made a difference. Thank you Phyllis for all your hard work………T.C. Hanna
Bangor in World War II

Author, historian, and Brewer Historical Society member David Bergquist has recently published his new book, “Bangor in World War II, From the Homefront to the Embattled skies”. This well written and informative book is a “must read” for those in the community who lived through World War II or appreciate the sacrifices made by the soldiers and civilians living at a time when the very survival of the country was challenged. Drawing heavily from his many lectures and writings about Dow Air Force Base, Dr. Bergquist intertwines the history of the air base with the support of the community. This book is heartily recommended. You can obtain a copy at BookMarc’s book store, telephoning (888)-313-2665, or e-mail: The Brewer Historical Society also has a copy for your reference.

Editor’s note: I am always amazed at how giving our members are with their time and money. So many projects, fund raising events and open houses. We have an impressive Historical Society due the hard work!……..T.C. Hanna
A Brief History of the First Congregational Church
by Brittany Goetting

The First Congregational Church of Brewer was labeled by local historian Mildred N. Thayer as the “mother of all churches” in the Penobscot region. It was the first church established in the area and the church from whence at least seven churches of various denominations were founded.

Modern-day Brewer was settled by John Brewer in 1770, who wanted to find a place to set up a mill. He was joined by twenty-one others in 1771. These individuals later formed the first congregation in the area. The First Congregational Church of Brewer was established in 1795 by Oliver Farrington and was held in his home. The church was officially recognized in 1800, which is the date the church now celebrates as its anniversary. The church building was constructed near Indian Trails Parks in 1828 and later moved to its current site on 35 Church Street in 1889. The stained glass windows, organ, and many other architectural features in the current establishment are original to the 1889 building. There is even a Bible in the back of the sanctuary that was used at the dedication of the 1889 building.

The Brewer family, the Chamberlain family, and several other prominent families attended the First Congregational Church. They were active as deacons, members of religious organizations such as the temperance society, and in supporting the minister. Their original pews are located today on the left-side of the sanctuary.

The First Congregational Church of Brewer is also home to Boy Scout Troop 1. The Troop was chartered on October 25, 1909, and predates Boy Scouts of America by four months. The Brewer Congregational Scouts were registered first with the Boy Scouts of England and received their Scout badges from England. The troop has remained active almost the entire time, with the exception of a lapse during World War I. The second floor, or attic of the church, continues to host meetings and serves as a tribute to the Troop’s history.

The Church currently has a small room in the basement dubbed as the “Archive”. There is an abundance of documents, pictures, and artifacts that need to be preserved. I am working to preserve and digitize the materials in the Archive so that they may be used as resources for generations to come. The materials in the Archive are a testament to the influence of the First Congregational Church of Brewer on the history of the Penobscot region. The Church recently celebrated its 215th anniversary and hopes to celebrate many more.