LIVERMORE — A breeze blew across the fields and yard at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center on Monday as Adam Castonguay used an excavator to make a construction access road.

The road will be used by contractors and workers during the construction project to rebuild the farmer’s cottage and barn, construction Project Manager Don Hawkes of Wright-Ryan Construction said. The company is handling Phase 1 of the project.

Both historical buildings were destroyed by an accidental fire that started in the barn on April 28, 2008. The center is a nonprofit living museum, dedicated to the preservation of 18- and 19-century rural Maine heritage and the history of the Israel Washburn family.

Since then the center’s Board of Trustees, volunteers and others have been working on the preservation of the museum itself, along with the contents, and making plans and trying to raise money to rebuild the lost history.

During the first phase, which is estimated to cost $1.1 million, the foundation for both the farmer’s cottage and the barn will be done and the farmer’s cottage will be rebuilt, Hawkes said.

To rebuild the rest of the barn in Phase 2 is another $500,000 that will be needed and fundraising is ongoing for that.


The foundation for the cottage will be 24 by 43 feet, and the barn foundation is about 40 feet wide by 87 feet long, Hawkes said.

The farmer’s cottage is going to be completely modern but also have a reproduction kitchen, he said. It will be all new construction but made to look old, Hawkes said.

It is a public building and needs to be rebuilt to modern codes for the health and safety of visitors and employees, he said.

A kickoff construction meeting was held Monday with contractors, site superintendent and engineers who will be working on the project. Local subcontractors are being used for the project, including Jean Castonguay Excavation & Logging Inc. of Livermore Falls, Rocky Lake Plumbing, Heating and Water Systems Inc. of Livermore, and Jeff Heseltine of Chesterville. Heseltine will erect the framing and sides of the cottage, Hawkes said.

Some foundation work is expected to begin by the end of the week, Hawkes said as he looked over the plans.

This phase is expected to be done in January 2011. The old granite from the barn foundation will be moved to a stone fabricator to be cut into veneer stone to be used as a face around the new foundation of the cottage to make it look old.


“There is a whole legacy of building here back from the 1800s, and we’re hoping to build on that legacy,” Hawkes said.

Washburn-Norlands Living History Center trustees and others have been doing some fundraising and plan to continue to help complete the rebuilding of a replica of the barn that was erected in 1867. A newer barn and farmer’s cottage were destroyed in a 2008 fire.

“We welcome anyone with fundraising experience to contact us to explore how they might join in our efforts,” Center Operations Manager Nancey Drinkwine said.

“Our annual meeting will be taking place this summer, and we’re always willing to speak with people about the potential of joining our Board of Trustees,” she said.

The three ways people can support the project is through donations of money — that’s what the fundraising efforts are all about, donations of materials or barn equipment to replace what was lost in the fire, and donations of time by signing up as a volunteer to help with the project. To contact Norlands, call 897 4366 or e-mail

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