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Norlands offers Winter Living History Day

Visitors may take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, see traditional ice cutting demonstrations on nearby Bartlett Pond, and enjoy numerous other activities.

The Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore will be open on Saturday, February 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a “Cabin Fever Reliever” Winter Living History Day. Journey into the past for some old-time fun, led by interpreters in period clothing who will portray members of the Washburn Family and their neighbors c. 1870.

This annual event is a belated celebration of President’s Day, 1870s-style. After his death in 1799, Washington’s birthday became a day of remembrance and celebration, including toasts, elaborate galas with dancing, the laying of wreaths, and the making of a fancy cake using a recipe of Martha Washington’s.

Norlands’ interpreters Shelly Cox and Jeanette MacDonald will bake a version of Martha Washington’s cake and pay tribute to President Washington with poems and songs at 12:30 and at 2:30 p.m. Stop by for a slice of cake and to participate in the celebration.

Another highlight of the day will be a special program on Lieutenant Samuel Benjamin at 11:30 a.m. and again at 1:30 p.m. Benjamin (1753-1824) was one of the first to respond to the call to fight in the Revolutionary War. He fought at the Battle of Lexington in 1775 and served as a sergeant at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Eventually he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Massachusetts Continental Line and went on to serve at Valley Forge, Saratoga, Monmouth, and Yorktown.

Benjamin was an early settler in Livermore, when it was called Port Royal and was part of Oxford County. He married Tabitha Livermore and went on to have seven children, including Patty Benjamin Washburn. His story will be told by “Clara Howard,” as portrayed by Willi Irish, Norlands Director of Interpretation and Training. Clara will share excerpts from Lt. Benjamin’s diary that he kept during the Revolutionary War.

Visitors may also take a horse-drawn sleigh ride and see traditional ice cutting demonstrations just down the hill on nearby Bartlett Pond. Craft activities will take place in the warm and cozy Washburn kitchen. Schoolmarm “Corilla Rose” will greet scholars in the one-room schoolhouse. In the 1867 mansion, visitors can take a guided tour, which will feature stories about the family’s relationship with Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant, along with unique family artifacts, such as the armband and sash Elihu Washburne wore as a pallbearer at Lincoln’s funeral.

Bring snowshoes to walk the historic carriage trail to the Pools of Simeon, reflecting pools designed in 1903 by the youngest Washburn brother, William Drew. Hot chocolate and other concessions will be available in the farmer’s cottage while supplies last.

 General admission will be $10 for adults and $6 for those ages 12 and under. Norlands members should bring their membership card to enjoy a 20% discount on admission. Upon arrival, park by the church, walk up to towards the mansion, and purchase admission tickets in the gift shop. 

In case of bad weather, this event will be canceled by 9 a.m. Call Norlands to listen to the outgoing message or check their Facebook page for updates. The Washburn-Norlands Living History Center is located at 290 Norlands Road in Livermore. For more information, call 897-4366 or see www.norlands.org.

The Washburn-Norlands Living History Center is a multi-faceted museum offering in-depth experiences in 19th-century rural life. Their mission is to preserve the history and traditions of rural life in Maine, to celebrate the achievements of Livermore’s Washburn Family, and to use living history methods to make values, activities, and issues of the past relevant to present and future generations.

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