Falmouth Historical Society puts research, museum under 1 roof

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

FALMOUTH — Anyone passing by an old white house on Woods Road might not give it a second thought.

But it’s not a house for a person. It’s a house for the town’s history.

The house at 60 Woods Road is the Falmouth Historical Society’s research and museum space. The society has been working to consolidate its collection into one space; it had been using both the Woods Road house and space in the Whipple Farm House on the OceanView campus for its collection.

“We’ve been looking for five years to get over here,” said Betsy Jo Whitcomb, the society’s secretary and museum coordinator, at the museum space last week.

Jeannie Madden, the society’s president, said the space at the Whipple Farm House was hazardous. It was on the second floor and only accessible via a very steep and narrow staircase.

The Woods Road location had similar drawbacks. Its stairs to the second floor are narrow, and difficult for a senior citizen to climb. But, Madden said, the available first floor led to the idea of a consolidated research and museum space.

“In (less than) a year’s time we’ve moved the entire collection over here,” Madden said.

The research space and some museum artifacts will be available on the first floor. The second floor and basement will be used for storage of the rotating display items, which have all been either loaned or donated to the society. Entry is by donation. People can research their homes, the town’s old schools, churches, different parts of the town and other aspects of history.

“More people are now doing research than museum looking,” Whitcomb said. “This gives them a taste of both.”

When the museum opens back up to the public at the end of May, it will be a space where people can research historical or genealogical questions, as well as see artifacts of the town’s history. For example, the museum has the town’s first fire truck, which dates back to 1924.

Even the house itself is an artifact. Built in the early 1800s, it was formerly the Leighton Farm House, and was literally moved from the other end of Woods Road to its current location. The land it sits on was given to the society by the town.

“But people go by and don’t know we’re here,” Whitcomb said.

Better signs will help change that, Whitcomb said, as will simply “having cars in the yard.” Hours will expanded, too, to 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and Tuesdays, and the building will be open Saturdays if the society can get sufficient volunteer help.

And the hope is to continue expanding.

Madden said there are five acres to work with, and her goal is to create something like a village of living history. There’s a slope outside that would be perfect for an amphitheater, she said. Additionally, she said, the society is compiling an online database of its catalog.

“It would be a really unique way to bring the past and present together,” she said.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

BetsyJo Whitcomb, left, and Jeanne Madden outside the Falmouth Historical Society at 60 Woods Road.

Artificats from Falmouth’s history are on display at 60 Woods Road.

In addition to being a place to do historical research, the Falmouth Historical Society’s musuem contains a number of artifacts, including the town’s first fire engine, dating back to 1924.

0
Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.