“It’s a cruel season that makes you get ready for bed while it’s light out.”

Bill Watterson

So many Barns at Woodlawn, wait until you see the one we are building for our future!

In preparing some launch materials, I have been trying to understand all the different iterations of barns that have been built, expanded, repurposed, replaced or removed since John Black imagined Woodlawn and began construction in 1824.

What is now the Sleigh barn was much bigger in one picture, with a gamble roof, telling me it was a different barn altogether. When it was replaced, there was a hen house attached that was likely removed in the 1970s. The barn that we are replacing, in one map from 1897 is referred to simply as the stables. We believe parts of it were built in 1826 and expanded as more animals were cared for at Woodlawn. At one point, we believe it housed 16 horses and we know there were pigs, oxen, chickens, and milk cows. John moved to Woodlawn in 1827 with four of eight children still at home and with seven fireplaces and all those animals, there were quite a number of mouths to feed.

By the early 1900s, John's grandson Nixon Black was coming up to Woodlawn in a car and he had a garage built. After he died in 1928 and his cars given away, the garage became a workshop for the caretaker and it wasn't until a permanent home for the carriages was considered that the decision was made to remove that garage and build a four bay carriage barn in the same style as the original two bay garage.

Most of the west end of that 'original' barn was removed in 1948 because it was too much to care for and other than chickens, there were no animals at Woodlawn. The first generation, Emmons L. Shea, was responsible for that renovation that included adding the iconic green arches to the east façade as the roofline lifted. New doors and a public toilet facing the parking lot were also added. By the time ‘the barn’ was torn down in 2020, that remnant section of the original was nearly 200 years old and so rotten it was unsafe to enter.

When you come to visit later this fall, you will be able to see the permanent carriage barn exhibit and a beautiful barn, built under the careful eye of the 4th generation at E.L Shea, Rob Shea. This barn will house our significant archival materials as well provide exhibit space and meeting venues for small and large groups. The future is bright for Woodlawn. But all Barns require ongoing maintenance and in time, replacement, even this one!

Fondness for a memory is understandable but honestly, Woodlawn has changed every 50-100 years, essentially every generation. That was true even when the Black family was in residence. As each generation moved in, changes were made inside and out. We are caring for a property that has experienced continual change since it was first built, nearly 200 years ago. Mark Twain says that the only one who likes change is a wet baby. I disagree. I think we can all be encouraged to look for opportunities to celebrate and understand our history while creating possibilities and adapting to the changes necessary for a successful future. Join us!  

Thanks for caring about Woodlawn.

Kathy Young

[email protected]

June 3 - this Saturday:

National Trails Day & National Croquet Day

Join us for a walk (play nature bingo!) or learn to play croquet.

9:00 - 11:00 am

Gorp, prizes and give-aways

We have a Barn Manager!

Welcome Naomi

Having lived nearly equal time in New England and the Rockies, Naomi Morrison has always considered both Maine and Montana her homes.

Naomi is excited to serve as the Barn Manager utilizing her 30-plus years of experience with event planning, public relations, fundraising/sales, and marketing. She studied journalism at Southern Connecticut State University while also being an executive for an international-trade and domestic-energy/recycling business.

When living in Montana, she worked for a daily newspaper, hospital, national park conservancy, and an adaptive outdoor recreation organization. Naomi has also served on a number of non-profit boards and civic organizations, something she hopes to continue.

Since returning to Maine, she has been diligently hiking, boating, camping and skiing with her two teenagers and four dogs!

You read that right - The Mallet Brothers! We are celebrating the new Barn with this amazing festival and it wraps up on Saturday night with some dancing under the stars. Can't wait to see you there.

Live Theater on the Forest Ridge Stage at Woodlawn

Two weekends: June 8-11 and June 17 & 18

Evening shows at 6:30 pm/matinees at 2 pm

Starring Woodlawn Trustee Charlie Alexander as Norman!

On Golden Pond is a classic American comedic drama that's every bit as touching, warm, and witty today as when it debuted off-Broadway in 1978. Retired couple Ethel and Norman Thayer are spending their 48th summer at their vacation home on Golden Pond in the woods of Maine. Their delightful summer routine--fishing, picking strawberries, enjoying old mementos, listening to the loons call--is given a bitterly comedic edge by Norman’s unreliable memory and cantankerously morbid statements. When their daughter Chelsea visits for Norman’s 80th birthday, bringing her boyfriend Bill and Bill’s teenage son, Billy Jr., the whole family must come to grips with Norman and Chelsea’s mutual bitterness while Norman blossoms with his chance to mentor young Billy. The turbulent relationship between father and daughter, the generation gap between young and old, and the difficulties of a couple in the twilight years of a long marriage all combine in a play that effortlessly illustrates the hilarious, heartbreaking, human moments of which life is made.

*Please bring a Chair & Blanket! (and bug-spray)

Tickets available at The Grand Refreshments are available for purchase.

Barn Update

We are at the details now - plumbing, wiring, painting, tiling, flooring. Curtains are being measured and things that have been ordered are arriving. It is an exciting time as usual and as well, the landscaping has started. Big trucks are digging up the outer field where the overflow parking will go. Rock walls are getting created as well. It is all quite magical to watch. There is no slowing this down! We look forward to showing it to you soon!

Birds forever in flight on our vase!

This month birds are hatching and fledging throughout Maine. At Woodlawn we are

keeping an eye on several bird boxes in the north and east fields that contain baby birds getting ready to take flight.

Birds are in evidence inside the museum as well as subject matter for textiles, ceramics, mirrors and other decorative arts. A wonderful example is found in a pair of pear-shaped vases perched on the mantlepiece in John Black’s office. Produced between 1875-1900 at the Doulton Lambeth Pottery of South London, the vases are signed by Hannah Barlow.

Hannah was the first female ceramic artist at Doulton. Hired in 1871, Hannah worked at the pottery alongside her brother and two sisters for over forty years. Today she is recognized as one of the most talented designers ever employed by the company. Blending her love for the natural world with her superior drawing skills, Hannah excelled at bringing birds and animals to life in her illustrations. Using a technique called Sgraffito, Hannah incised her designs into the wet clay of the vase. Then, additional decorations of leaves and flowers were added by less skilled workmen before the vessel was fired in the kiln. Records show that Hannah could produce as many as twenty pieces a day.

Highly sought by collectors today, the tan, blue and green salt-glazed stoneware vases

decorated from Doulton Lambeth Pottery hold a special place in Woodlawn’s collection and indicate the fine taste of the Black family.

Planted an orchard nursery!

In our lower parking lot, we have an orchard nursery that has been planted in partnership with Fogtown. The nursery will help the trees get above deer height for the next two years and then we will have decided where to place them around campus. They may go up near the community garden when it comes back next year or close to some of our heritage trees. Exciting!

Downeast Senior College at Woodlawn!

It is official that Woodlawn is the home of Downeast Senior College and we plan to kick off in the fall with a reception. We have the names of 70 people who were enrolled in 2019, the last year programs were offered. But we will open it up to anyone age 55+ who is interested in getting involved.

We will be looking to establish curriculum and a membership committees as we expect to offer our first 'term' in the winter/spring of 2024. Do you want to teach about your hobby or passion - birding? Print making? History? Memoir writing? Theatre? The beauty of Senior College, beside no tests, is that we learn from each other and share the wisdom of our community. We are thrilled to be breathing new life into this program for Ellsworth. I hope you will think about becoming part of it! You can email your interest to [email protected] and we will keep you informed.

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Black House Drive, P.O. Box 1478

Ellsworth, Maine 04605

(207) 667-8671

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