VWHH  Newsletter
November/December 2015
History Mystery
Behind Closed Doors  continued  . . . 

For the third installment in our "Behind Closed Doors" History Mystery series we present this little beauty:

We know what you're thinking, and no, Alice In Wonderland is not part of the answer, nor does it require a shrinking potion to use it! So if its not a magical passageway what is this tiny door? It measures 10 inches tall and is found in the kitchen of the Homestead. 

Hint: It involves both fire and water. 

We've Changed Our Name! 
To: Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead

On November 4, the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the organization from Vaughan Homestead Foundation to Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead. 

The new name more accurately reflects our mission to care for and share both the Homestead  and  the Woods. In truth, we've been using the new name unofficially for some time to better communicate with Woods users who might not associate the Homestead with the Woods. 

The new name also sets Vaughan Woods of Hallowell apart from Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park* in South Berwick. 

In short, the new name fits us much better!

*How are the two Vaughan Woods Connected? 

Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park 
in South Berwick was given to the State of Maine in 1949 by Elise Tyson Vaughan. The land had belonged to her and her mother, Emily Tyson, but was named in honor of her husband, Henry Goodwin Vaughan. Henry's family owned the Hallowell Homestead, though Henry and Elise lived at Hamilton House, also in South Berwick and now a house museum owned by Historic New England. 

Diana Vaughan Gibson and her husband George created the Vaughan Homestead Foundation, now VWHH, in 2002 to oversee both Diana's ancestral home in Hallowell, Vaughan Homestead, and the adjacent 197-acre nature preserve, Vaughan Woods. VWHH is an independent non-profit organization.

Diana Gibson and Henry Vaughan were second cousins. Henry's father and Diana's grandfather were brothers who shared ownership of the Homestead at the turn of the 20th century and created the trails and bridges of the Hallowell Vaughan Woods we know today. Eventually, the Homestead and Woods came to be owned solely by the Gibsons. 

Despite the family connection, today neither Hamilton House nor Vaughan Woods Memorial State Park is formally associated with Vaughan Woods & Historic Homestead of Hallowell. 
Programs Highlight
Musings on Historic Collections 

Pick a topic in American history, and we could probably put together a program on it with information from the Homestead's collection of papers and documents -- one family's accumulation from over 200 years of American life . And that's just what we've been doing! In 2015 we chose two topics to research: women's history and war. The topics were large, and we quickly learned that several programs could have come out of each. Regardless, our team of volunteer researchers and presenters waded through diaries, letters, and more and selected the most interesting and telling stories. 

Research for the women's program, held during National Women's History Month in March, made us all feel more connected to the people of the Homestead -- reading their words, seeing images of them throughout their lives, sitting in the rooms they slept in, studying the objects they held dear. Suddenly the house was so much more personal to us.

Research for the war program, presented in honor of Veterans Day in November, surprised us all. What had put us to sleep in the text books of our youth fascinated us in the letters, diaries, and telegraphs of real people. What had always seemed like the remote and hazy past, became more real and vivid to us as we learned what happened right here at the Homestead during each of the wars we studied. Read the Kennebec Journal article about this program.

This use of the collections, the studying of specific topics, is bringing the history of the Homestead, Hallowell, and America to life for us. We hope you will join us in 2016 for programs on the next topics . . . stay tuned for what they are! 


November - December
Holiday table setting on exhibit at Hubbard Library in Hallowell.  

January - February 
Winter Exhibit on display at the Hubbard Library.  

February 13
Great Maine Outdoor Weekend event at VWHH.
Details to Come
September/October History Mystery

In our last newsletter, we asked you to identify this mechanism found behind a closet door in the loft of the barn. 

We told you the barn is original to the 1794 Homestead, but underwent exterior renovations at the turn of the 20th century.   The hint  was: It makes noise

In recent years, Vaughan descendants believed the mechanism to be the workings of a clock whose face would have been mounted on the outside of the barn. Drawings found in the Homestead collection this year, though, reveal it to be something else: a bell! 

The drawings outline the workings of the bell and are inscribed: "William Vaughan to Mr. Grimes." We know Grimes was a groundskeeper of sorts, but we can only guess why William Vaughan (1848-1939) would have wanted a bell in the barn. Perhaps he wanted a way to call in the workers from the Victory Garden he had established during WWI in the present-day Woods' old pasture. Or perhaps his fear of electricity was assuaged by a bell that could alert people of a fire. Some day we may find his purpose in the archive, but for now it remains a mystery. 
Like us on Facebook