Opening Day (6/14/18) & Calendar of Events, 2018!

Image may contain: tree, sky, grass, outdoor and natureCome 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 parishillhistoricalsociety@gmail.com for more information on how we can help you. 

PegDooreTeaTowel
Example of a Peg Doore design, this one on a linen tea towel.

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.

EmilyBissell
Emily Bissell and some of her Christmas Seals, photo by the American Lung Association website

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.

Thank you and let’s enjoy a great summer!

 

 

Save the Dates for Summer 2018

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.

Rio De Janeiro; The Raritan; Boston, MA; Paris, ME. Pedro Tovook
Watercolor by Pedro Tovookan Parris of his journey from Rio de Janeiro to Paris Hill, Maine. Image courtesy of Historic New England’s website.

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.

Upcoming Theme: Arts, Crafts, & Collections, Plus Two Calls for Community Involvement

Snowstorm
The Doe House, c.1870, on Hannibal Hamlin Drive, a bit snowed in right after the March 8th storm.

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 parishillhistoricalsociety@gmail.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.  

Again, for either of these initiatives, please contact us at parishillhistoricalsociety@gmail.com or, if you are more comfortable with a friendly phone call, just contact Beth Miller at 207-890-8490. You can also always find us on Facebook as Paris Hill Historical Society and online at www.parishillhistoricalsociety.org.  

Thank you and let’s hope mud season is short and spring and summer seem long!  

 

A Paris Hill Cemetery Walk on Memorial Day, 2017

I live with what I regard as a privilege here at the Parris House at the far north end of our beautiful National Historic District.  Adjacent to my back property line are two breathtaking and historic cemeteries, The Pioneer Cemetery and The Knoll Cemetery. Both are the final resting places of those who came before us in this community, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives.   They knew, as we do, the strong breezes (ok, winds…) blowing over the hilltop, the sensational and never-one-like-another sunsets, the streets lined with lilacs this time of year, the comforting tolling of the Revere bell at the church on the green, every hour on the hour, every hour of their lives, and now, still, after they are gone.   Paris Hill is a special place to live, and now, in these peaceful cemeteries, a special place to be remembered.

Memorial Day is a day to remember those who actually died in service to our country, the ones who, as Lincoln put it in the Gettysburg Address, gave their “last full measure of devotion.”  And yet, every Memorial Day, the graves in the Pioneer and Knoll Cemeteries of those who served – whether they gave their lives in that service or not – are decorated with bright American flags.  I like this tradition so much, especially on a gloomy, overcast Memorial Day like this one.  The red, white, and blue of the flags pop against the grayness of the weather and the gravestones, reminding us that these men and women (yes, Julia Carter served in the women’s service), even those who served in our 18th century Revolution, have not been forgotten.

I planted my vegetable and herb garden this morning, which is a stone’s throw from these cemeteries.  As I looked up, brushing a blackfly off my forehead (it’s that time of year!), the flags caught my eye and I remembered, in gratitude, those who came before me in this place and who made the commitment to protect what I have here as a resident of Paris, Maine and as an American.  I put down the trowel and took a walk through the cemeteries to photograph their graves.  I share these pictures now with you so that you can come along on this virtual tour of these historic places.

An important note:  The Pioneer Cemetery is town maintained and open to the public.  A pathway to it with a historic marker runs from Paris Hill Road just before you get to 546 Paris Hill Road, at the north end of the village.  The Knoll Cemetery is private and requires permission to access.   Additionally, a great resource for all things regarding cemeteries and their histories is www.findagrave.com.   As always, should you like additional information on any of the graves you see in the slideshow, contact us at the Paris Hill Historical Society, and we can check our archives.

Have a thoughtful and happy Memorial Day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Respectfully submitted, Beth Miller, Board Member/VP, Paris Hill Historical Society

Letter to Hannibal Hamlin from his Father in Law, Stephen Emery, upon Hamlin’s Election as Vice President

HamlinLetter

We can thank Paris Hill resident Tony Kleitz for this wonderful piece of history he discovered at the Maine State Archives in Augusta.  It is a copy of the letter Hannibal Hamlin’s father in law, Stephen Emery, wrote to him upon his election in 1860 as Abraham Lincoln’s first Vice President.  It reads as follows:

“Auburn, Nov. 7, 1860

Dear Son;

Language is almost powerless to express my joy at the result of yesterday’s labor, and I should do violence to my feelings, were I to neglect to express that joy to you, altho’ you will be nearly overwhelmed with congratulatory letters.  My better way perhaps would be to rejoice in silence, but the very “stones” should be permitted “to cry out” in shouts of exultation. O, how glorious the triumph!

“The powers of Hell are captive led, dragged from the portals of the sky.”

My faith in human nature, which years of rascality & barefaced corruption had gradually but steadily impaired, is renewed again and hope our country & the right return with beaming eye and elevated crest.  May the victory now won be used wisely & well, and become as memorable for lasting good, as it is gratifying to the feelings.

Please say to Dear Ellie, I rec’d her letter yesterday.  I thank her very much for it.  May Heaven guide, and keep, and bless you all.

Your affec. father

Stephen Emery

Hope I shall see you before many weeks. Burlingame, who has vindicated the honor of Massachusetts, and promoted her interest, with singular ability & fidelity, is sacrificed by a cold, heartless, corrupt aristocracy.  Shame, shame, on such base ingratitude!”

Would you like to know more about the presidential election of 1860?  If so, come on out to our program, “Hannibal Hamlin, the 1860 Presidential Campaign, and its Impact on Paris, Maine” tomorrow night, August 9th, at 7 PM at the First Baptist Church of Paris here on Paris Hill.  Hope to see you then!

Annual Membership Meeting Recap & Calendar of Events

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.

MembershipMeeting2016Collage
Wini Mott and Nancy Schlanser present on the Games People Play exhibit.

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.

Have a great Fourth of July weekend!

 

History of the Former Oxford County Registry on Paris Hill

The Registry was built in 1826, and served as offices for the Recorder of Deeds and Register of Wills, handling the overflow from the Courthouse offices during the period (1806-1894) when the Oxford County seat was located on Paris Hill. Its name, the “Registry”, was given to the building in the 1950s. Before that it was known as the Oxford County Office Building.

Registry1

Registry2

The Registry is built in an austere Federal Style, with its entrance set in a semi-elliptical blind arch. The building originally consisted of two front rooms, upstairs and down. Large signs hung on the outside of the front of the building designating the offices inside. On the left of the front door was the Register of Probate, on the right the Clerk of Courts. Upstairs, the County Treasurer was on the left and the Register of Deeds on the right. The building was of solid brick construction – both interior and exterior walls – with a slate roof and metal doors, making it fireproof for its period. Later, the small back rooms were added, two upstairs and two down, all used as storage for town records. Early photographs seem to show that the brick may have been painted a cream color. There was a streetlight in front of the building and a board sidewalk leading in an eastward direction. In the early 20th century the street was shaded by huge elm trees which were all destroyed in the early 1950s by the Dutch Elm disease. The original slate roof had to be replaced in 1999.

 After the County seat moved to South Paris in 1894, because of the advent of the railroad in the valley, the property reverted to the Cummings family, who sold it to Fred Case. A French family named Leonard lived in it at one time. Around the turn of the century, the building was used as a mine office, for the molybdenum mine on Crocker Hill, the Lewis Brown mine.

The building was purchased about 1920 by Frances Hammond as a wedding gift for Major and Mrs. Leigh F. J. Zerbee. Mrs. Zerbee, the former Frances Hammond Brinckle, was the granddaughter of Dr. Thomas Huntington Brown of Paris Hill. The Zerbees made minor changes to turn the Registry into a summer home.

Registry3

The property immediately to the east of the house was the location of the First Universalist Church, which had been built in 1859. The lot had been purchased from Capt. F. Bemis for $400. For more than 50 years after it was built the church served a large congregation of Universalists. But the group dwindled, and as it did, services became less frequent. Rev. J. H. Little was the last year-round pastor. He served from 1902 – 1905. From 1905 until 1951 only a few summer services were held there. During the last few years only one service was held each summer. The church was damaged by a fire on April 11,1952 which burned the store on the adjacent lot. Miss Gertrude Brinckle, who owned the old Courthouse across the street, feared that it would become an antique store, and bought the property for $600. She had the church dismantled for another $400, giving the land to her nieces, to whom the Registry belonged at that time. Materials from the dismantled church were used to build the Gardiner Seventh Day Adventist Church in Farmingdale, Maine, which still stands today.

The Registry has been owned by members of the same family since 1920. The current owner is the great great granddaughter of Dr. Thomas Huntington Brown of Paris Hill.

Registry4

This wonderful history and accompanying photos were submitted by Paris Hill resident and PHHS trustee Julie DeMont.