BETHEL — The Bethel Historical Society has begun construction of a replica of an office and library that for 36 years belonged to Dr. Moses Mason.
Mason (1789-1866) was one of Bethel’s most-renowned residents, according to the society. He worked as a physician and businessman, and served in many offices of public trust, including two terms as a representative to U.S. Congress from Maine.
The replica is being built where the original stood from 1830 to 1897. It is next to Mason’s house on Broad Street.
Although the society was aware of a building being there, its exact location was not confirmed until a few months ago, when an 1874 photograph showed its location.
“It’s an incredible project. You seldom see a building returning to where it was originally,” Bethel Historical Society Executive Director Randy Bennett said. “We know the dimensions are right and the height will be right, and on the exterior it will look like a 19th century building.”
Much of the structure is being built by Scott Campbell of Maine Mountain Post & Beam of Fryeburg. Campbell has nearly 20 years of experience, and his business specializes in timber frame work. He has provided all of the authentic timber frame going into the project.
“This is all very traditional joinery, and what we’re trying to showcase is basically what’s inside these buildings,” Campbell said.
He emphasized the importance of making the interior similar to interiors of other old homes in the area.
Bennett echoed Campbell’s ideas on the inside of the office.
“The interior will be left open so people can see all of the framing,” Bennett said. “We will use the timber frame as a teaching tool.”
Campbell has strong connections to the historical society. His father-in-law, Marvin Ouwinga, and his mother-in-law, Tineke, served as its presidents. Tineke is now vice president.
On top of the donations by Campbell, members of the society and the Twitchell family have given money toward finishing the exterior. The Twitchells have a long line of descendants in the area, and the family played a key role in settling Bethel. In 1774 they built the first sawmill and gristmill in the area.
Bennett said the society plans to dedicate the building as the Twitchell Education Center in late spring 2019.
When the society is not using the building for talks and demonstrations, it will be open to the public. Inside, there will be a small exhibit of wall panels focusing on the Twitchell family of Bethel, and panels explaining the framing techniques and construction of the replica.
Others will cover a brief background of the old office library, and a plaque will be included showing the timber frame was donated in Tineke’s honor. A chimney stone will be on display representing where the original was likely located.
Bennett said no attempt will be made to bring back a layout of an office or library because the society no information to guide such efforts or ensure accuracy.
The exterior will be sided with clapboards and painted white, identical to the original building. Wood shingles will be used for roofing and the entryway will have granite steps.
Longtime builder Dan Gibbs will tackle the remainder of the project once Campbell’s framework is complete.
Scott Campbell, rear, with mallet, and his crew put up the framework recently for a replica of the Dr. Moses Mason office and library in Bethel. (Alison Aloisio/The Bethel Citizen)
The completed framework for the replica of the Dr. Moses Mason House office and library in Bethel. (Samuel Wheeler/The Bethel Citizen)