The history of the Washburn Norlands Foundation
The Washburn-Norlands Foundation was formed in 1973, at the bequest of Washburn family descendants. The Foundation converted the property into a living history museum with the intent of preserving the estate and the remarkable stories of its past. Today the organization is run by a Board of Trustees, who together ensures the protection of the estate, its collections and their future. The Foundation is a non-profit organization operating under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service.
The Washburn-Norlands estate is occupied by four historic buildings, the 1867 Mansion, 1883 Library, 1828 Meeting House and a restored 1853 School House. The Norlands is home to a number of collections; including Washburn family papers, photographs, artwork, historic clothing, books, furniture, and more.
In 1954, Ethel “Billie” Wilson Gammon started her work at the Norlands, with the restoration of the library. She went on to develop a world-renowned museum education program based on living history methods. Her dream for Norlands was that through real-life experiences in the past, children and families would come to appreciate the everyday struggles of the people who lived in the late 1800’s in rural Maine.
Billie developed the foundational curricula that is used in Norlands’ school programs and “live-ins” today. Since the mid-1970’s the renowned programs she developed have sparked the imaginations of hundreds of thousands children from across New England. It is because of Billie’s vision, hard work, commitment and ability to motivate others that Norlands exists and continues to this day.
Billie Gammon was inducted into Maine’s Women’s Hall of Fame in March 1997.
Or, visit the Maine’s Women’s Hall of Fame