Bethel exhibits continue through October


BETHEL — Special and ongoing exhibits are open at the Bethel Historical Society’s museums.

The society’s observance of the 150th anniversary of the Great Rebellion, titled In the Field & On the Homefront: Bethel During the Civil War, continues in the Molly Ockett Room on the first floor of the Robinson House. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Among the hands-on activities are a selection of stereographic photos of Bethel and vicinity that visitors may view through a hand-held 19th century mechanism to produce 3-D pictures.

In the first floor Philip and Mary Chadbourne Room is a varied selection of books, photos, framed art and historic objects from the Gould Academy Archives on display through October. One of the most fascinating artifacts is a large case containing the names of Gould students and graduates who participated in World War II. Plans are underway for installing an entirely new exhibit in this gallery in the spring of 2016.

The expanded display devoted to the history of Bethel, previously announced for opening in August, has been moved to the spring of 2016 to coincide with the Bethel Historical Society’s 50th anniversary.

A special exhibition at the Mason House is Secluded Glens & Noble Landscapes: Traditional White Mountain Art Recaptured. It features numerous outstanding 19th century White Mountain landscapes, plus a large selection of impressive landscapes created in the Hudson River School manner by nationally-recognized plein air artists Erik Koeppel and Lauren Sansaricq of Jackson, N.H.

All of the contemporary White Mountain paintings are available for purchase, with most on sale at reduced prices during these last four weeks of the show. Ask for the special price when you visit. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday through Aug. 29.

On Thursday, Sept. 10, the society will hold its annual membership meeting at the Dr. Moses Mason House. A 6:30 p.m. potluck supper will precede the meet at 7:30 p.m.

During the meeting, which is open to the public, officers and trustees for 2015-16 will be elected and the Noll Volunteer Service Award will be presented.

Following the ceremonies, folklorist and oral historian Jo Radner of Lovell will present Yankee Ingenuity, a collection of stories of headstrong and resourceful people.

Radner holds a PhD from Harvard University, taught at American University in Washington, D.C., and has published books on the topics of drama, folklore, women’s studies, Celtic studies and New England social history. She is past president of the American Folklore Society and the National Storytelling Network.

From 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, several local women will demonstrate techniques of rug hooking at the Mason House in conjunction with Harvestfest activities on the village common. Visitors will also have an opportunity to give it a try. A small exhibit of hooked rugs from various periods also will be on view.

At 1:30 p.m., author, antique dealer and rug hooker Judith Burger-Gossart of Salsbury Cove will present an illustrated talk about her recently published book, “Sadie’s Winter Dream: Fishermen’s Wives and Maine Sea Coast Mission Hooked Rugs, 1923-1938.” The book, which will be available for purchase, recounts the story of how impoverished fishermen’s wives on the coast of Maine had their lives transformed by Sea Coast Mission worker Alice Peasley, who taught them to make hooked rugs and then sold the rugs to aid these struggling families. The afternoon program is free and sponsored by the society’s Florence Bickford Hastings Traditional Crafts Fund.

Work has begun on the second and final addition to the Robinson House. When completed, it will allow all of the society’s historic objects, books, photographs and manuscripts to be safely stored and easily accessed for research and exhibit purposes. Funded by a donation from Charles R. Huntoon, a Rumford native now residing in Portland, the project will result in a barn-like structure that, in many ways, will resemble a historic barn that stood on the same site from 1821 to 1931.

Concrete footings for the building, which will contain two large fireproof vaults, are already in place, and construction of the basement walls that will eventually support the two-and-a-half story wooden superstructure is expected to begin soon. Visitors are invited to observe the building activity from the nearby side lawn of the Dr. Moses Mason House.