Co-Curated by Holly Hurd and David Coffin
Our most recent exhibit focused on Mast Landing, the area where large pine logs destined to become ship masts were hauled and loaded into the Harraseeket River during the 18th century. Abner and David Dennison moved to town in 1757 and soon after built a sawmill and vessel at the landing. This industrial activity marked the beginning of growth toward a village that would thrive, prosper, and decline as new modes of transportation changed the face of commerce. FHS Trustee David Coffin co-curated the exhibit, which included years of work on the historic Mast Landing village as well as new information about the people who lived and worked there.
This exhibit highlighted and interpreted changes in Freeport Village over a century-and-a half beginning with the earliest landowners and developers, a blacksmith and store owners, and ending with the multi-store blocks and smithies that dominated the village at the turn of the 20th century.
This exhibit showcased objects that tell an interesting story, for example the top hat of Freeport entrepreneur E.B. Mallet, Jr. who developed Freeport Village in the late 19th century by building a shoe factory, and opening a granite quarry, sawmill, and brickyard to encourage industrial production.
In addition to these strongly “storied” artifacts, we featured some “mystery” objects – items that are intriguing, but come with little or no associated history (except that they are from Freeport) – and objects in our collections not generally seen by the public
While many know that Freeport, Maine is home to L.L. Bean, few are aware that Freeport was once home of a bustling shoemaking industry. The exhibit explored the history of shoemaking in Freeport, from the early itinerant cobblers who constructed custom-made shoes at people’s homesteads in the late 18th century, to the late 19th century assembly-line production characterized by a number of people making different shoe parts, to the final pair of shoes manufactured in town by Eastland Shoe in 2001.
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