AUGUSTA – Old Fort Western, the 1754 National Historic Landmark fort, store and house museum on the Kennebec River, will be open for walk-in visitation the first Sunday of the month from 1 to 3 p.m. from Nov. 2 through May 2.

The program and demonstration theme for November will be candle-making. Staff members will demonstrate the dipping of tallow candles, a seasonal activity that often would have taken place during colder weather and after butchering, when supplies of animal fat for tallow would have been available.

The program focus for Dec. 7 will be holiday preparations and practices circa 1840. The reason for selecting the later-than-usual interpretive date is that most 18th-century New Englanders did not mark Christmas. By the 1840s, however, some of what are now considered traditional holiday practices – a tree, for example, and stories about St. Nicholas – were beginning to take hold. Still, progress remained slow through the 19th century. Not until 1904 was Christmas a school holiday in Maine.

The program for Sunday, Jan. 4, will combine the increasingly popular New Year’s open house with the official opening of the fort’s 250th anniversary year. Program hours that day will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at the fort followed by anniversary fireworks from the Eastside boat landing beginning at 4:30.

Admission to all Old Fort Western First Sunday programs is free. Donations are encouraged. Visit for more information.

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