Freeport Historical Society gets $100K, names top volunteer

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FREEPORT — Entrepreneur George Denney continues to support the town that gave him so much with a recent $100,000 pledge to the Freeport Historical Society.

“I’ve lived in Freeport 73 of my 79 years. Freeport’s been good to me and I want to be good to Freeport,” Denney said. “For the Freeport Historical Society, I wanted it to stay right on Main Street.”

The multi-story red brick home that houses the historical society is at 45 Main St. Earlier in Freeport history, the Harrington family lived in there.

Denney’s support, which follows the $1 million he and his wife Joyce donated last year, came on the same night the historical society named Rebecca Hotelling its volunteer of the year. For that honor, Hotelling received the Mel Collins Award for Outstanding Community Service April 9, during the historical society’s annual meeting. 

The award commemorates Collins’ longtime work as a local photographer, when she chronicled events for many nonprofit associations,Freeport Historical Society Executive Director Jim Cram said. 

Hotelling remains a go-to person for FHS, Cram said. For the last several years, she managed the Volunteer Committee, a post she still holds. Now, she also is secretary of the historical society.

Hotelling’s outward and easygoing enthusiasm for museum work encourages others to volunteer at the historical society. For instance, each Wednesday morning, Hotelling and several other volunteers keep the gardens outside 45 Main St. in tip-top shape.

“She’s constantly engaged in different activities, including the garden group,” Cram said. “She has a lot of energy and gets involved in things.”

A few years ago, Hotelling gave a lecture about the history of steamboats in Casco Bay. Cram said this is another example of how Hotelling contributes to the greater Freeport community.

Hotelling, Denney and other Freeport supporters work to preserve and advance the town’s future and its best interests.

Longtime Freeport resident Mel Collins used his photography talents to artistically preserve the town.

As noted in FHS’ newsletter, The Dash, “during the 1980s, Mel recognized that his beloved hometown was changing in character. He began documenting these changes in the Village as it evolved from a manufacturing town into a retail destination.

“Mel Collins’s legacy was service to his community, and this award is in recognition of Mel’s spirit,” according to the newsletter. “Each year at our Annual Meeting we recognize someone who has contributed to Freeport Historical Society through their volunteer efforts.”

Lisa D. Connell can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or Follow Lisa on Twitter: connell_ld.

Rebecca Hotelling is Freeport Historical Society’s 2016 Volunteer of the Year.The Freeport Historical Society building is located at 45 Main St.