Embrace the Norlands Update

March 8, 2024

Dear Friends,

Greetings from the Washburn-Norlands Foundation! I am excited to share an update about our progress over the past year as we have worked to turn a corner and breathe new life into our magical 400 acres.  

In 2023, thanks to members of the community and the Washburn family stepping up to contribute money, time and energy, we were able to continue our operations.  Volunteer directors and a volunteer staff gave over 3000 hours of service. Generous donations allowed us to address critical capital needs and we held a successful season after re-opening in June. 

Visitors from around the world came to hear the extraordinary Washburn story and experience life in rural Maine. Schoolchildren spent a day “going to school in 1870”. Community members turned out for farm-to-table dinners, Maple Sunday and the Olde Fashioned Christmas at Norlands.  We finally finished the Barn, painted the Meeting House, secured its steeple, replaced the School House roof, and repaired its stove.   

In September, we hired a professional curator to re-organize our collections and make documents and artifacts from the Washburn archive accessible on site and online.  We remain hopeful the 2024 congressional appropriation for the Library and Meeting House interior will pass this year.

 In 2024, we aim to expand our trail system, mount an exhibit from our extensive textiles collection and start a natural history collection. We are booking school groups, weddings, adult tours and special events while also offering historic tours, farm-to-table dinners and an eventful summer season.  

But that is just the beginning.  We learned today that thanks to Senator Collins, Congress has passed a $3.5 Million appropriation for the restoration of the Washburn Memorial Library and the Meeting House interior as well as a welcome center that will give us long needed bathrooms, a new gift shop and exhibition space. We hope that these improvements will draw people from far and wide to the Norlands.

Maintaining a 400 acre historic property takes more than the revenue from these activities and grants alone. In fact, while this appropriation is extraordinary it also makes our request for support more important than ever because it only covers the construction costs. We must fund the additional personnel to manage the grant and meet our annual operational needs. With your continued support, we can have another strong year in 2024.  We see great opportunities ahead and hope you will continue to value and support us. 

I hope that you will join me in “Embracing the Norlands” in 2024.  In honor of our 50th anniversary, our goal is to raise $50,000 in donations! I know that with your help we can reach it. 

With a contribution of $35 or more, you receive the benefits of membership, including free admission, while providing generous support to the Norlands at the same time. With a donation of $100 or above, you will receive admission to 1,200 museums nationwide through the National Association of Reciprocal Museums (NARM). All memberships and donations, regardless of size, are structured to be 100% tax deductible.  You can give online at norlands.org or by using the enclosed envelope.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at president@norlands.org. Also, follow us on Facebook and Instagram for regular updates.  

I look forward to celebrating with you as we “Embrace the Norlands” in 2024. I hope that you will have a chance to visit the Norlands this year! 

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, 

 Ashley Heyer

President & Co-Director, Washburn-Norlands Foundation

Great-Great-Great Granddaughter of Elihu B. Washburne


Washburn-Norlands Foundation Trustees

  • Ashley Heyer, President
  • Mary Castonguay, Vice President
  • Tom Mullin, Secretary
  • Renee Bonin, Treasurer
  • Chandler Buie
  • Jane Frost
  • Ron Kley
  • Conner Tremblay
  • Tayloe Washburn
  • Jennifer Washburne