Save the Norlands!

The TIME IS NOW… And we need everyone’s help!

We want to share a major decision about the future of the Norlands with you.

Unless we are able to secure pledges for a major capital infusion of $3 million dollars by March 1, 2023, we must decide whether or not to begin the process of dissolution.

From the inception of the organization in 1973, our mission has been to preserve the legacy of the Washburn family and to use living history methods to teach what life was like in rural Maine during the civil War era. We dreamed of achieving financial stability so the public could benefit from the historical, educational and cultural treasures found at the Norlands. For the past 50 years the trustees worked to maintain the five buildings that make up the property, as well as adapting our programs to keep pace with the changing needs of school children throughout Maine. Unique and memorable programs were created by staff and volunteers. Maybe you too remember coming to the Norlands for a grade school field trip? Staff and volunteers, as well as community members and Washburn descendants spent countless hours during events and programs at the Norlands to generate the income needed for operations. Some years were better than others, but it was never enough.

The Norlands has been operating at a deficit for years. Although we have a modest endowment of $300,000, we are forced to consider ending our stewardship of the Washburn estate and closing the Norlands. A small remaining staff and our endowment will help ensure that the artifacts and documents are preserved by an organization with a similar mission.

Recently we had to make some tough decisions.

Each of these decisions created a one-time windfall, but our endowment funds still aren’t enough to pay for repairs that are essential to maintaining our buildings.

What we’ve done so far

  • put the property in a conservation easement with the Maine Farmland Trust
  • sold the Pondside property to owners in agreement with our mission
  • harvested our woodlands responsibly
  • hired staff to expand the Norlands experience with new exhibits, courses and school programs

What are our plans?

  • make our need known as widely as possible – You can help!
  • reduce and cut expenses
  • apply for grants that support historic buildings
How can you help?
  • share your ideas to Help Save the Norlands.
  • show your support by pledging a contribution if you can.

No checks or online contributions are being taken at this time.
Instead, we ask that you send us a message at with your name and pledge amount.

You’ll receive a thank you reply to your email and if we reach our fundraising goal, we’ll ask that you convert your pledge to a donation to Save the Norlands. We’ll stay in touch to keep you apprised of how we’re doing.

This is our way of sharing with you what we face before any final decisions are made. We do plan to apply for major grants and to approach potential donors who are able to make substantial contributions. We also welcome your contributions and ideas for saving the Norlands.

Sincerely, The Trustees of the Washburn Norlands Foundation