Big News for the Library and Meeting House!

Empires may rise and fall; revolutions may convulse the world; governments may be dissolved; generations may come and generations may go; but this Library Building shall stand so long as the hills which surround it shall remain.

    – Elihu B. Washburne, Washburn Memorial Library Dedication 1885

Dear Norlands Supporters,

This weekend, we received the most exciting news the Washburn-Norlands Foundation has had in our 50 years – our long-sought funding to restore the 1883 Washburn Memorial Library and the 1828 Meeting House was approved by Congress thanks to the hard work of Senator Susan Collins. 

With this $3.42M Congressional District Spending allocation for the direct expenses incurred by the construction/restoration projects (not our year-to-year operating expenses we rely on our member donors to support) we will be able to return these historic spaces to their intended uses – for the communities of Livermore, Livermore Falls, Jay and for all Mainers. Visitors far and wide will come to hear the Washburn story, experience life in 19th century rural Maine, and discover the incredible peace that comes from spending time on our 400 acres. 

In 2008 when Historian David McCullough entered our remote library and the archive, he was so overwhelmed by the bounty of historical treasures that he had to go outside and sit under a tree to get some air in order to digest what he had just seen. McCullough with great urgency told us that restoring the library was essential to the Washburn story. He continued by stating that moving thevaluable collection to another location would not present it in context and therefore lessen its impact. The Washburn brothers intentionally chose to house their books and papers in Livermore, the home that drew them back from the world for their entire lives. It remains essentially untouched by time, making learning about their lives in this space an experience like no other for historians, students and all who enter. As his view of the library’s importance spread, people began to listen, and years later, this grant has come to fruition.

This grant will not only cover the restoration of the Library and Meeting House, it also can include renovating the storage barn as a welcome center with long-awaited bathrooms and an exhibit space to tell the Washburn story in even more detail.  When completed, the Meeting House will be available for weddings, memorial services, concerts, lectures and other special events. We can now return the Washburn Memorial Library to its intended purpose as envisioned by E.B. Washburne; an active resource with its books, archival material and original design. Additionally, it will employ a unique digital lending model that makes the library’s holdings available to all, presented in context. It will once again be a place for discourse and community education.

Now the Norlands Needs YOUR support.

While $3.42M is tremendous, it is only available for construction costs, paid over the course of the project. We need your help through donations and memberships now more than ever. In addition to our regular annual operating costs this , we expect to incur significant additional compliance related expenses including accounting, legal assistance, proper storage of the library contents, and construction oversight. This construction will temporarily limit our offerings, so we are anticipating a short term drop in programming revenue (don’t worry, we’ll still be active with field trips, tours, dinners and special days!). With your support, we can take full advantage of the tremendous opportunity that the funding will provide for our buildings, while we continue to regain our footing with programming opportunities for you, our friends of the Norlands. 

I hope that you will join me in supporting the Norlands at this critical juncture. As a member/donor, you do more than contribute financially; you become a steward of these magical 400 acres. You are free to visit whenever we are open and you may vote at our annual meeting on important decisions about the future of the history center operations. 

We look forward to your help and support as we embark on this unprecedented, transformative undertaking for the future of the Norlands, our community and our country.  We hope we will see you on Maple Sunday, March 24!

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, 

Ashley Heyer
President & Co-Director
Great-Great-Great Granddaughter of Elihu B. Washburne