Annual Membership Meeting 2018

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.

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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.

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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.

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Holly begins her talk to a completely engaged audience.
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This Florence Hastings quilt is absolutely breathtaking. It is very large, all hand quilted, and THEN cross-stitched. The number of hours of fine handwork in this quilt is incalculable.
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Two more Florence Hastings quilts. Hand quilted. Tiny stitches.
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Holly Brown and her mother, Mary Alice Bancroft, both of Paris Hill, hold this phenomenal vintage Florence Hastings hooked rug. This rug is hooked on burlap and bound with twill tape. It is in exceptional condition.
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Carol Rice converses with Mary Alice Bancroft about this Florence Hastings rug which is hooked in the center and braided around the wide edge. Holly explained that her grandmother did exacting “butting” on her braided rugs (our braiding audience will know and appreciate what this means) for a completely flat and “seamless” finished rug.
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Holly’s picture of her grandmother, Florence Hastings, at about 99 years of age. Holly said her grandmother limited herself to one cup of coffee and one cookie per say, however the coffee cup was as big as her head and the cookie was as large as a cookie tray. 🙂

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.

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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!

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. 

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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.

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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!

 

 

A Visit with Paul Cote & His Paris Manufacturing Company Collection

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On July 19th, members of the Paris Hill Historical Society and other local societies were invited to tour Paul Cote’s amazing collection of Paris Manufacturing Company products and artifacts in Oxford, Maine.  Paul is the owner of Route 26 Antiques, but beyond that he has encyclopedic knowledge on a number of topics, including Paris Manufacturing Company, the history and identification of antique snowshoes, as well as antique firearms, American history, and more.  Perhaps most importantly, Paul is exceedingly generous with this knowledge, as we found out touring his collection that day.

Paris Manufacturing Company had its beginnings when Henry F. Morton built his first sled for sale in his kitchen in Sumner, Maine in 1861.  However, it was incorporated as the Paris Hill Manufacturing Company and relocated to Paris Hill in 1869 after Henry joined forces with Alban Maxim, who was manufacturing furniture.  At that time approximately twenty five employees made toys, furniture, baby carriages, and other products, but the most famous of the products were the sleds, which were hand painted with what can only be called original art.  Paul Cote’s collection has many examples of the fine art treatments these sled tops received.  Bear in mind that these were not made to be hung on the wall and admired. These sleds were made for children (and adults, if they wanted!) to use to barrel down the snowy hills of winter, and used they were.  Here is a photo of some of that artwork:

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One of these sled tops’ artwork is a very fine reproduction.  Can you guess which one?  If so, put a comment on this post and we’ll give the answer later.

In 1876 Paris Manufacturing Company exhibited a sled at the Centennial International Exposition (first World’s Fair) in Philadelphia and was honored with a prize.  Paul Cote, after a long acquisition process which makes for a wonderful story (ask Paul sometime, because he truly tells it best), owns this very sled.

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Honestly, it was breathtaking to see this sled.  One of our members noted that she took great pride knowing that our history and heritage here in Paris is so interesting and remarkable.  The center ringed mark on this sled is from a previous owner resting a plant on it (!) and while Paul could, theoretically, try to restore that out, he has chosen not to for solid reasons.  It is interesting to note that the original gold leaf is shiniest where that wear/staining occurred, and gives an insight in to how gleaming it must have been when new.

Another piece exhibited at the same Exposition was an elaborate baby carriage, which Paul also has in his collection.

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Paul said that this originally would have had side lamps.  This is hard to imagine today.  That surely would not pass modern day safety standards.  Along with the carriage, there is a catalog page for it.

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Not that model #34 was $20 in 1876.  According to an online inflation calculator, that would be about $445 today.  Model #36 was $30, or about $670 today.  So, these carriages were very expensive in their day and most likely the state of the art.

One very interesting feature that Paul explained to us was a change Paris Manufacturing Company made in the undercarriage of its sleds.  Instead of having straight pieces of wood as part of the structure holding on the runners, as the early sleds had, the company started using curved pieces.  This eliminated a common problem of torque, as the sled was used, wiggling the joints apart and compromising the structural integrity of the sled.  Here is Paul showing us an example of the newer design vs the older one.

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In 1883, Paris Manufacturing Company moved off of Paris Hill and down to South Paris.  A large towering stack still stands at the site today, off Western Avenue, bearing the company’s name.  Here is what it looked like when it was in full operation.

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Evidence of the popularity of these sleds still remains on Paris Hill.  Several years ago, local historian Winnie Mott allowed some metal detecting folks to search on her property, with the understanding that Winnie could keep any artifacts that had meaning to her.  Here’s one of the things they found, and that Winnie kept. Do you know what it is that she’s holding?

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It is a sleigh bell from a Paris Manufacturing child’s sled (note Winnie’s tee shirt).  A great find!

Paul also kindly showed us his collection of antique North American (including some Native American) snow shoes.  Here is one set that was particularly interesting.  Paul explained that the wool pom poms, although in some cases decorative, were also in many cases functional, especially on spring snowshoes when icy conditions created the possibility of the shoes being cut or damaged by the sharp ice.  The pom poms were protective of the snowshoe edges.

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Here is a pair of Native American snowshoes in Paul’s collection.

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Older people from the area will remember the giant fifteen foot “Norway snowshoe.”  At one time, Norway was an important hub of snowshoe manufacturing and the giant snowshoe was on display in town.  Paul has a replica.

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Finally, Paul showed us a very interesting piece of American firearm history, an Evans Repeating Rifle, which is not a commonly found weapon.  It has an unusual ammunition screw feed mechanism and other features which ultimately made it noncompetitive for American military applications, but remains a well known rarity among antique firearm enthusiasts and was made in nearby Mechanic Falls, Maine.

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After the tour, Paul and some of the attendees were able to follow up with a nice luncheon at the Paris Hill Country Club Cafe to chat some more.  Then they went over to the Paris Hill Historical Society to see our very own Paris Manufacturing sleigh!  You too can take a peek at that sleigh during our open hours, 1PM to 4PM, every Thursday this summer.

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This amazing tour was by invitation to members of the Paris Hill Historical Society and was just one of the benefits of membership this season.  Please consider becoming a member, if you are not already. The membership form is HERE.

We hope you have enjoyed this post and that you will contact Paul Cote at Route 26 Antiques with questions regarding his collection, or for anything in this realm you are seeking.    We also have a pretty thick folder on Paris Manufacturing Company at the society on Tremont Street, so stop in.

Many, many thanks to Paul Cote for his generosity, knowledge, and time.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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