We had a very successful Annual Membership Meeting this evening and we’d like to thank everyone who participated, attended, and made it a nice event.
Our meeting kicked off with our Secretary, Carol Rice, giving the minutes from our 2017 meeting, followed by our Treasurer, Dave Baker, giving the financial and building report.
We spoke about ways for members to become involved and a variety of upcoming events and projects, and then it was time for our Vice President, Nancy Schlanser, to talk about our extensive collection of Peg Doore information and artifacts.
Next, Trustee Julie DeMont gave a detailed explanation and history of the artifacts we have displayed relative to Gertrude Brinkle’s art and the life and legacy of Emily Bissell, as well as explaining the beautiful quilted piece she herself made and that is also on loan to us for the summer.
Our primary presentation for the evening was given by Holly Bancroft Brown, who grew up on Paris Hill and lives here still, having raised her own family here. Holly’s grandmother, Florence Hastings, lived well past her 100th birthday and was an incredibly gifted artist and maker. Holly brought breathtaking examples of her work, including quilts, hooked and braided rugs, tole painted pieces, and some reverse painted glass work. Holly’s presentation was filled with poignant remembrances of her grandmother and her work, historical highlights many of us didn’t know, and lots of funny anecdotes that kept everyone laughing. Holly’s mother, Mary Alice Bancroft, was also with us, making the connection to family and history even better. It should be mentioned that Holly is very creative herself, a gifted sewer, quilter, and interior designer.
Here are some pictures from Holly’s presentation, with captions.
Overall, it was a great evening and again, our sincere thanks to everyone who attended. We also are getting a very good response to our call for membership and donations, and we sold the first of our Peg Doore notecards, a sampling of which is below. We have twelve designs in all. They are 6 for $12 or 12 for $20.
We will be open again next Thursday, July 5th, from 1-4 PM if you’d like to purchase a set of your own or just see our summer exhibits.
For our membership application and schedule of events, click HERE.
Thanks for reading and have a great July 4th holiday!
Come see us, Thursday, June 14th from 1 to 4 PM for our opening day of the summer season. We have just completed putting our display cases together for our summer theme, “Arts, Crafts, and Collections” and our docents are ready to share their knowledge and our new exhibits with you.
Featured in the large curved display case is the graphic art, screen printing, and weaving of former Paris Hill resident, Peg Doore. These items range from note cards to table accessories to aprons and bags. Many on the Hill have Peg Doore art in their collection of housewares, and vintage Peg Doore items can be found for sale to collectors on eBay, Etsy, and other vintage and antique venues still. Along with the examples of her work we also have a notebook for your perusal with information about the artist, her life, and pictures of her with her creations and at the loom. Should you fall in love with any of her botanical or architectural designs, we have a treat for you…
Available at the Historical Society and also at Founders’ Day this year will be sets of reproduction Peg Doore designed note cards, made by special permission. We have twelve designs total which we have broken in to two six-card collections for you to choose from, or buy both for an even better price. Come in and see these beautiful cards, perfect for all occasions. We also have Peg Doore gift wrap, featuring the historic homes and public buildings on Paris Hill, which offers you a unique way to wrap presents this year! NOTE: If you are far away and can not purchase note cards in person, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how we can help you.
To go with our July 17th talk by Dr. Martha McNamara on Pedro Tovookan Parris, we have on display a photographic print of Pedro’s mural of his journey from Rio de Janeiro to Paris Hill and also a copy of a framed photograph of him. This will help you put a face with his name and story prior to our program.
Also on display this year is some beautiful art and pithy poetry by Gertrude Brinkle and a display on her contemporary, Emily Bissell, who introduced the Christmas Seals program in the United States and who was a summer resident of Paris Hill. We also have a gorgeous small quilt by Gertrude Brinkle’s great-niece, our trustee and past president Julie Demont, and a small hooked rug by Beth Miller who lives in the Parris House.
Here is our calendar of events for 2018:
Every Thursday 1 – 4 PM OPEN at our building on Tremont Street.
June 28th – Annual Membership Meeting, 7 PM, 48 Tremont Street: We will talk about the season, enjoy refreshments, and are also excited to announce that we will have a short presentation by lifelong Paris Hill resident Holly Brown about her own creative work and that of her grandmother, Florence Hastings, whose work has also been featured at the Bethel Historical Society. We’ll hear about quilting, rug braiding and hooking, and more.
July 17th – Talk by Dr. Martha McNamara of Wellesley College on the life and art of Pedro Tovookan Parris, 7 PM, First Baptist Church: Dr. McNamara is the foremost expert on the life of former-slave, artist, and public speaker Pedro Tovookan Parris who was brought to Paris Hill to live with the Parris family in the mid 1800s.
July 21st – Founders’ Day, 10-2 on the village green and at our building on Tremont Street: The Historical Society building at 48 Tremont Street will be open from 10 – 2 and we will also have a spot on Hannibal Hamlin Drive where you will be able to purchase Peg Doore note cards and gift wrap, and other items that we will have for sale. Stop in to the building or see our docents at the gift table on the green to ask questions about Paris Hill history as well.
August 11th – Paris Hill Music Festival, 10-2, 48 Tremont Street: We will be open to visitors to the Paris Hill Music Festival on this day, so in addition to enjoying great music at the church, please stop by and see us.
August 25th and 26th, Saturday and Sunday, 12 – 4 each day, Paris Hill Artists and Makers Show, Paris Hill Community Club: We will be displaying a variety of art and craft work from artists and makers of Paris Hill both past and present. This is the venue where we will be able to display items too large for our home building on Tremont Street and from a wider variety of Paris Hill artists and makers. We hope to have some of our living artists on hand to answer questions and present their work. Continue to follow us on Facebook and our website for more details on this event.
We are happy to report that we received a wonderful response to the call for artists, makers, and collectors in our last newsletter submission, hearing from quite a few of our members and residents with offers of items and expertise for our summer theme, “Arts, Crafts, & Collections.” We are planning to start re-contacting those who responded soon to talk about how they can participate in our exhibits and programs this summer. In the meantime, here are some save-the-dates:
Starting June 14th we will be open again this summer on Thursday afternoons from 1-4 PM. We will also be open on Saturday, July 21st from 10 – 2, for Founders Day and on Saturday, August 11th from 10 -2, on the weekend of the Paris Hill Music Festival. Stay tuned for an announcement possibly adding another Saturday open date for June.
Thursday, June 28th at 7 PM will be our annual membership meeting at the PHHS building on Tremont Street. We are just starting to prepare our display cases with artistic creations from both our distant past and present which will be ready to view by our opening day, so be sure to come and get one of the first looks at the new exhibits. We will also serve refreshments. Not yet a member? You can become one by following the directions at the end of this article!
Tuesday, July 17th at 7 PM, at the First Baptist Church we will welcome Dr. Martha McNamara, Director of the New England Arts & Architecture Program at Wellesley College, to speak about the life and art of Pedro Tovookan Parris. Dr. McNamara will be giving a 45 minute presentation with a 15 minute Q&A session, after which we will have refreshments in the church hall.
Pedro Tovookan Parris was an ex-slave, captured in East Africa in the 1840s, taken to the slave trading hub in Zanzibar, then to another hub, Rio de Janeiro, where the ship he was on, the Porpoise, was reported to the authorities. Virgil D. Parris, then the United States Marshall for Maine, became involved in the case and eventually adopted Tovookan and brought him to live here on Paris Hill at the Parris House (now 546 Paris Hill Road). He became an artist, speaker, and member of the community. Tovookan was buried in the Knoll Cemetery, behind the Parris House, in 1860 at age 29 after succumbing to pneumonia. In our collection are the diaries of Arabella Rawson Carter, sister in law and sister, respectively, to Virgil and Columbia Parris, in which she chronicles Tovookan’s illness and death.
This is only a fraction of his story which is a remarkable piece of African American history in Maine and has been written about extensively. Dr. McNamara is working on an exhaustive contextual biography of Tovookan. Her research on his life has taken her all over New England and even to the UK and we are very excited to have her share her knowledge with us.
TBD, August: We are still determining the exact dates for our August event, which will be an art and craft exhibit featuring both antique and vintage items from our collection and private collections on the Hill, and contemporary works from some of the living artists and makers among us. We will announce all the details on this program on our website at www.parishillhistoricalsociety.org and on our Facebook page.
In keeping with our theme, we are also working on having beautiful Peg Doore reproduction note cards made that will be available for sale this summer and beyond. Sale of these cards will benefit the society and help support our programs while offering purchasers something truly unique and lovely as gifts or for personal use.
To keep up to the minute with everything that’s happening with the Paris Hill Historical Society, both during our summer season and the rest of the year, please “like” us to join our Facebook community at https://www.facebook.com/parishillhistoricalsociety/. This is a great way to interact with us and with others who follow our page because they love the village and its history.
If you would like to become a member, support our mission of preserving and promoting Paris Hill history, and possibly become more involved, please click here.
Well, we’ve just had another big snowy northeaster come through here, but…the Paris Hill Historical Society is starting to get organized for the upcoming summer open season! This year’s theme will be Arts, Crafts, & Collections. We are in the process of lining up some great speakers and programs, including a talk by Dr. Martha McNamara of Wellesley College on the 19th century life and biographical art of Pedro Tovookan Parris.
We have two community calls to action as we begin our 2018 season.
We know that we have many artists, crafters, and makers on the Hill. If you are one of them and would like to participate in this season’s celebration of creativity on the Hill, past and present, please get in touch with us at email@example.com. Your work may just fit in to one of our 2018 programs or exhibits. Additionally, if you have in your collection an art or craft piece made by one of our forebears that you would like to share with our community, please contact us as well.
Speaking of collections, the Advertiser Democrat wrote a nice article this past fall about our Memory Chest project. You can read the article here: http://advertiserdemocrat.com/items-sought-paris-hill-memory-chest/ We are still very much looking for donations for this project, which do not have to necessarily be objects, although those are welcome. They can be written memories, a letter to the future, and more. We have a form with directions on how to contribute to this time capsule, to be opened in 2042, and we would love to have you participate.
Even though the Paris Hill Historical Society is now closed for the 2017 season, we’ve still had some interesting things happening. Much of what we have to tell is eerily appropriate for Halloween as it relates to some of our history’s recorded mysterious or untimely deaths and tales of lingering spirits right here in our village.
In early October, we had a visit to the historical society from Dr. Martha McNamara, Director of the New England Arts & Architecture Program at Wellesley College. The reason Dr. McNamara was visiting is because she is writing an extremely in depth biography of Pedro Tovookan Parris, who was an ex-slave adopted by Virgil D. and Columbia Rawson Parris of Paris Hill’s Parris House. Recently, we at the historical society found detailed information regarding Tovookan’s untimely death of pneumonia in 1860 in the personal diary of Arabella Rawson Carter, sister of Columbia Parris, daughter of Old Brick’s Samuel and Polla Rawson and wife to Timothy Jarvis Carter who served in the United States Congress for short time before his death at a very young age in 1838. Timothy Jarvis Carter had witnessed the death by duel of a friend and colleague, fell ill himself shortly thereafter, and died young in Washington, DC. The nature and cause of his death is still debated; some suspect a complete break down from the stress of witnessing his colleague’s death but the historical record is not clear. The Carters resided in The Old House, next to Old Brick, catecorner to the Parris House.
But, back to Tovookan and Dr. McNamara’s research. What we found in Arabella’s diaries were poignant accounts of Arabella “watching with” and visiting the dying Tovookan as he weakened from the pneumonia that would take his life. She describes the use of “plasters” on his chest to try to help ease his breathing, but when he finally succumbs she writes a touching account of how very much he is missed by all and how quickly his burial took place because of his body’s fast decomposition. Tovookan was just twenty nine years old and his grave is directly behind the Parris House in the Knoll Cemetery.
Want to know more about Tovookan, his life, his times, and his many talents? Dr. McNamara has agreed to present a program for us during our 2018 season, so stay tuned to our Facebook page and our website for upcoming announcements.
Tovookan’s adoptive father, Virgil D. Parris, fared better in life and lived into his 60s. However, an odd thing happened – again, according to Arabella Rawson Carter’s diary – when Virgil passed away in 1874. Arabella recounts that when Virgil passed away, his body was too large for the coffin the family had purchased in Paris and that his son, Percival, had to make an impromptu trip to West Paris for a larger one!
Several owners of the Parris House have suspected that Tovookan, or possibly other previous occupants, are still occasionally present in the house. Stories of the unexplained at the Parris House include hearing footsteps in the attic and lullabies being sung in an upstairs bathroom. Doors with solid latches on them have been opened by unseen hands in front of residents whose arms were full of groceries. Unusual scents have been noticed by not only the homes’ owners, but by guests of the fiber art studio there as well. Two house guests who describe themselves as psychic claim to have actually seen or heard Tovookan. Perhaps the strangest reported incident was the presence of a green glowing orb in an upstairs bedroom. Paranormal or somehow explainable? These are mysteries.
The Parris House is not the only home on Paris Hill with stories of the unexplained attached to it. Mark Kikel, present owner of Lyonsden, was kind enough to relate some stories past and present about his home. As most of you know, Lyonsden is at the northern corner of Hannibal Hamlin Drive and Paris Hill Road and was the home of the colorful Harry Lyon, navigator on the Southern Cross, the first airplane to cross the Pacific Ocean. It’s been said that Harry Lyon used to actually shoot at the clock tower/church bell just across the road on the green. Mark tells us gunshots have been heard in the wee hours of the morning, only to find nothing upon investigation. At one time the house also belonged to Simeon and Emilene Cummings. Emilene seems to make herself known by the unexplained scent of gardenia between the kitchen and dining rooms. Interior chain locks sometimes deploy when no one is inside the house and objects from upstairs find their way downstairs. Paint color sample cards left lying on a counter at night were reduced to a single one in the morning, perhaps Emilene expressing her preference. Even the Lyons’ cat, Patsy, is suspected to still roam Lyonsden. The sensation of a cat jumping on to the bed, curling up next to you, and purring, when there are no pets in the house, has also been reported.
Paranormal activity is, of course, unproven and controversial, but whether it is real or the result of our interpretations of experiences we can’t immediately explain, one thing is sure: ghost stories are the stuff of a community’s history. Fall River, Salem, and Concord, Massachusetts are quick-to-mind examples of New England towns whose ghost stories are inextricably linked to their documented histories and historic homes. Paris Hill is no different. We have our documented history and some Halloween worthy stories that have grown out it. If you have a Paris Hill ghost story of your own you’d like to share with us and our community, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today Halloween on Paris Hill is all about the hordes of delightfully costumed children who come to our doors seeking candy and a friendly word. We may never know if those who came before us are looking on.
On Wednesday, June 29th we had our Annual Membership Meeting for 2016. The featured presentation was on our summer exhibit, “Games People Play” and was beautifully presented by local historian and member Winifred Mott and society president Nancy Schlanser. If you missed the meeting and would like to get in on the information that was shared on the exhibit, stop by the Historical Society during our open hours, Wednesday afternoons, 1 – 4 PM all summer.
What games did you play growing up, and where did you play them? What games do you play today with friends and family? We posed this question at the membership meeting and got some wonderful responses. Feel free to comment on this post with yours.
You can always see what’s going on at the Paris Hill Historical Society by clicking on our Events page or following us on Facebook, however, here is a recap as well for your convenience:
Wednesday, July 27th – The Birth of Modern Baseball & the 1919 World Series Scandal – 6 PM – First Baptist Church
Not to be missed! The Birth of Modern Baseball & the 1919 White Sox World Series Scandal are the topics of our first program by our own Bob Moorehead. Bob’s talk will be based on the book, “The Betrayal” by Charles Fountain. Bob is well-known as a sports editor and his talk will be a highlight of the summer.
Baseball appropriate food will be served starting at 6PM! Come out for your hot dogs and peanuts and Cracker Jack! Talk begins at 7.
RSVPs are appreciated.
Tuesday, August 9th – Presentation on Hannibal Hamlin, the 1860 Presidential Campaign, and its Impact on Paris, Maine – 7 PM – First Baptist Church
In this presidential election year, we couldn’t let the summer pass by without highlighting our own, Hannibal Hamlin, the campaign of 1860 and its impact on Paris, Maine. Linda Richardson, Rev. Mary Beth Caffey, and the historical society are working together to make this an interesting presentation. More info to come!
Wednesdays 1-4 PM All Summer Long – Historical Society Building
Come see our current featured exhibit plus so many other interesting artifacts that reflect our rich and fascinating history. A friendly docent will be there to greet you and assist in answering your questions, finding historical information you may be looking for, and sharing your interest in Paris Hill history. We’d love to see you.
And…check back to our web page on Monday for a fun game you can play along with us from anywhere in the world.
Welcome to the new on line home of the Paris Hill Historical Society, located on Tremont Street in the National Historic District of Paris Hill. Via this site we hope to bring you all of our good news including upcoming events, exhibits, new acquisitions, and wonderful stories and articles on the uniquely rich history of our village.
This site is under construction, so please check back often for new additions to the page tabs. You may also “like” us on Facebook by clicking HERE. By following our Facebook page you will keep up to date on all the historical news and events we have going on in our beautiful New England village.
Thanks for visiting and we look forward to meeting you on a visit to Paris Hill!