About Us

“When the long dun wolds are ribb’d with snow,
And loud the Norland whirlwinds blow…”
 –THE BALLAD OF ORIANA by Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

One cold winter day in 1869, Charles Ames Washburn stood at one of the large mansion windows within the family estate.
He reflected on two lines of a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.
He stood in a mansion, built & rebuilt through his and his brothers’
hard work, drive, success, and leadership.
They intended it always to be a place to which family could return,
could come home and be together.
Just days after completion of the structure – fire almost took it from them.
They rebuilt before the winds of winter came.
It was a time when need for Reconstruction occupied all States within the Re-United. 
He reflected on how these two lines by Tennyson so aptly described
the howling winds that swept across the Norland fields in front of him.

About Us

The wheel of time turns slowly at Norlands.  The past is not merely preserved and remembered at Norlands. It is brought to life as we re-create the activities, re-learn the skills, and re-connect with the attitudes and values of 19th-century rural Maine.

Norlands is a multifaceted living history museum and working farm where costumed interpreters discuss the Norlands’ community during the mid-1800’s.​You may even meet a historical member of the community who lived in the Norlands’ neighborhood.  Through Community Activities, Educational Programming, Rural Arts Courses, and touring the timeless estate, you will be immersed in the life of historic rural Maine.  And, you will get to know Norlands’ founders – the remarkable Washburn family.​

​The Norlands is the ancestral home of the Washburns, one of the great political and industrious families of the 19th century. Of the ten children born to Israel and Martha Washburn, seven sons rose to serve.

  • As governors, congressmen, a United States senator, Secretary of State, foreign ministers, a Civil War general, and a Navy captain. 
  • They were longtime friends to two U.S. Presidents (Lincoln and Grant).

As industrialists, adventurers, and entrepreneurs the brothers achieved great success:

  • Founding of the Washburn-Crosby Gold Medal Flour Company,
  • The invention and patenting of one of the first industrial typewriting machines,
  • Participating in the Westward Expansion and the Great Gold Rush.
  • Continuing to serve as a Collector of Customs for the port of Portland and as president of a railroad.

​No other American family has produced an equivalent level of political and business leadership in a single generation than that of the Washburns from Livermore, Maine.

 The Washburn women, three sisters, became wives, then lost husbands.  They became mothers, and one died in childbirth.  They moved West but came home to be caregivers. ​Their steadfastness made “coming home to Norlands” the touchstone of FAMILY. 

Maine’s oldest operating Living History Center, serving the public since 1973.  ​National Register of Historic Places