History of the Central Aroostook Historical Society
The Central Aroostook Historical Society includes Blaine, Mars Hill, E Plantation, Robinson and Westfield. On January 25, 2010 seven local citizens met for the first time at the High School to begin the work of starting a local organization to focus on history in these five towns. Kim Smith of the Presque Isle Historical society was kind enough to attend an early meeting and help us determine the initial steps in launching and building our group. She generously shared a stack of notebooks and binders with a wealth of ideas, forms, and suggestions based on her extensive experience. Representatives from the Southern Aroostook Agricultural Museum in Littleton also gave us sound advice from their work with that successful organization focused on farming.
After many committee meetings, the goals and aspirations for the group began to take shape. The prime missions of the Central Aroostook Historical Society are to 1) learn local history, 2) record and preserve local history, then finally 3) teach local history. One aspect of learning and recording that we feel urgency about is conducting video interviews with our older citizens. We are blessed with many people in our region who are 85 to 95 years old. Several are older including Jaunita Rideout who turned 100 in January.
It soon became apparent that we needed to become a non-profit corporation. In great part due to the generous donation of time and knowledge by Attorney Brent York, we incorporated then started to seek 501 © (3) designation by the Internal Revenue Service. On May 11, 2012 we received non-profit status.
With any new historical society there is the chicken/egg problem. People ask how can you start a group like this without a building, then others see a problem starting out with a building then building membership. We believed that the organization should come first then we should work toward our mission and work out the physical facility in the future. One of our committee members, Nate Smith, was a Blaine Selectman and suggested that the town of Blaine might give the former Mountain Grange building located next to Town Hall to the Historical Society. We made the request, Nate advocated for us with the Town, and both the Board of Selectmen and then later the citizens of Blaine at a town meeting voted to make the gift. In May, 2013 the Central Aroostook Historical Society took ownership of the building.
Looking back five years seems like a long time. We are proud of our accomplishments thus far. Also we are pleased with some of the items collected and with the projects under way. We have a signature quilt top made by the Ladies Aid Society in 1897. We are working in partnership with the woodshop at Central Aroostook High School on the restoration of the “Lobster Pot” building, an iconic local historical structure. We are also working on the former Grange building to replace the roof and provide wheelchair access to the building. The Aroostook County Fund and the Caroline D. Gentile Fund of the Maine Community Foundation gave a $5,000 grant and the Rotary Club of Mars Hill made a $500 donation for partial roof repair. We appreciate this financial support and commend these organizations for helping community based efforts.
We ask that our citizens think about any items, photos, films, or documents about local history and consider donating them to the Historical Society. You can help support our work buy becoming a member at $15- Student, $25- Individual, & $100 Corporate mailed to us at P. O. Box 293, Mars Hill, Maine 04758. Feel free to contact any of the officers, Steve Hitchcock-President, Wendy Grass- Vice President, Ryan Shaw-Treasurer, or Betsy York-Secretary.