July is not only a season of the year, it is a season of the mind and memory.

Hal Borland - American writer

Woodlawn is full of memories with many more to be made!

Yesterday, I had the privilege of showing our restored horse weathervane to Karen and her daughter. They are the great-granddaughter and granddaughter of James and Hannah Dunleavy (one of the early caretaking families). Karen and her sisters have funded this weathervane restoration in honor of James who was hired by Nixon Black for his exceptional skill with horses. Karen reflected on how she loves being at Woodlawn, knowing that her ancestors lived, worked, and walked where she was right now. And in many important ways, Woodlawn has not changed since James & Hannah were here. Hearing that original horse stalls will be put in the new barn was a small thrill for Karen as once again, these are in fact the actual structures that James would have touched. And in the next breath, she was grateful to see the beauty of the new barn and understands how critical it is to ensure that the rest of Woodlawn will be able to prosper because of this modern adaptation. We are building upon a heritage of memories which strengthen this property with special energy. What I most enjoy about meeting folks like Karen is hearing their stories and since we were enjoying a tea, she told us about at time when she, her mom, and grandmother Hannah Dunleavy came for tea. They were dressed up and very young Karen was under strict instructions to behave! At one point of the afternoon, Hannah got the giggles and (you have been there) couldn't stop laughing - seems one of the fancy hats tickled her funnybone. That made a big impression on young Karen!

I would love to hear your story. Be sure to come up and see how things have changed and how they also the same as your own sweet memory.

Thanks for caring about Woodlawn.

Kathy Young


Happy Birthday to Nixon Black and his grandparents!

Colonel John Black was born in England on July 3, 1781 while his wife Mary Cobb was born in Massachusetts July 26, 1776. Their grandson George Nixon Black Jr was born in Ellsworth on July 11, 1842. He went by Nixon because his father was known as George. John, a successful land agent and businessman, had Woodlawn built in 1827 as the family home. Nixon ensured its future by gifting it to the Trustees for Public Reservations when he died in 1928.

George moved his family to Boston to expand John's business interests when Nixon was a teenager and we know of his visits to Woodlawn in his later years but there are only a few clues about Nixon as a child and young man. Archives at Woodlawn include receipts for dancing lessons in Bangor and payments for school lessons in Ellsworth. The earliest known picture of Nixon is believed to be the portrait that hangs in Woodlawn’s front hall and was likely painted in New York city. In November 1853, when Nixon was 11 years old, he accompanied his parents on a trip to New York City. Two of his uncles (his mother’s brothers) were merchants in New York and sold lumber from the Black’s mills in Ellsworth. Evidence on the back of the portrait suggests it was painted during this visit to New York. Perhaps it was as a result of this trip that Nixon’s interest in traveling was born.

In 1865, at the end of the Civil War and several years after Nixon’s studies at Harvard abruptly ended, Nixon took his first trip to Europe. He traveled with college friends and members Boston’s Crowninshield family. Again, Woodlawn archives shine a light on this grand adventure. On September 10, 1865, George Black’s cash book records reveal the purchase of Nixon’s steamship ticket and gift of $144 in gold for his travel expenses. Four days later the party sailed from Boston and were gone for a year returning in late September 1866. 


These kind of details provide the bones for Jane Goodrich’s meticulously researched and cleverly written historical novel, The House at Lobster Cove, which recounts of the life of Nixon Black and is for sale in the gift shop. There will be a few opportunities this summer to have a private book tour - check the website!

Happy Birthday to the John, Mary & Nixon! We are grateful for your skills, success, and generosity as we celebrate and enjoy the legacy of the Black family in Ellsworth.    

Museum Opens July 6th

Thursday, Friday, & Saturday

Weekly through September 16

9:00 am - 3:00 pm

Check the website to book a guided tour, only available Thursdays.

We have these books for sale in our gift shop, open Th - Sat, 9-3

Barn Update: Sneak Peek

Sunday, July 30, 10-1

Paths and landscaping have begun; painting continues inside.

Come up for a sneak peek! We will have the doors open and staff to answer questions but folks cannot go inside just yet.

While you are here, wander the trails to admire the new trail signs, play Nature Bingo (prizes!) and look for the new children's book exchange library frog (location hint!); maybe bring a book to donate and help us stock it.

Click here to vote: WinterKids.org/D24Fund

Voting starts after July 3, help us win so that we can offer more for kids & families at Woodlawn!

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Friend of Woodlawn


Thank you!

Visit our website


Black House Drive, P.O. Box 1478

Ellsworth, Maine 04605

(207) 667-8671

For general questions, click here