BETHEL — The Bethel Historical Society will offer a full range of programs, including lectures, exhibit openings, walking tours, book signings and music concerts during June and July. All events are open to the public free though donations are welcome.

The society’s “Mud Season Movies” will continue at 2 p.m. Wednesdays, June 13 and 27, at the Robinson House, 10 Broad St., next door to the Bethel Library. Part of a series of films presenting unique perspectives of subjects of significance to the history of the region, the presentations are introduced by society Trustee Dick Hale, retired University of Maine forestry professor.

The topic of the June 13 event will be “Railroads,” with the planned showing of old footage of the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad.

On Tuesday, July 3, the society will open a new exhibit at the Robinson House, titled “Full of Memory and Sentiment”: Autograph Quilts from the BHS Collection.”

Autograph, or “friendship,” quilts came into fashion in the 1840s in an era devoted to the cultivation of sentiment. As documents of remembrance, these “scraps of calico” emerged from an earlier 19th century practice in New England of keeping bound albums where women collected favorite quotations, expressions of love and concern, and, most importantly, the signatures of close friends and relatives.

Typically, patchwork blocks of similar size and design were signed by friends and relatives of the quilt’s recipient. At other times, as demonstrated by several quilts in this short-term exhibition, these “precious reliquaries” were assembled as neighborhood or church fundraisers, with contributors’ names recorded by someone with handwriting skill and a steady hand.

One of the quilts that will be on view was made about 1880 by the Mason (Maine) Methodist Society under the direction of Roxanna W. Bean (ca. 1821-1886).

July 3 will also mark the beginning of summer season guided tours of the society’s 1813 Dr. Moses Mason House. Life is shown as it was lived in the highlands of western Maine during the first half of the 19th century. Guides will give a tour of nine rooms filled with examples of the decorative arts, many of which were in the house during the years of the Masons’ occupancy (1813-1869).

During these tours, guests view portraits of Dr. and Mrs. Mason painted during the 1830s by Chester Harding of Boston, and survey their grand entrance hall with its circa 1835 Rufus Porter School wall murals.

Regular tours will be available from 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and members of the society are admitted free.

On Wednesday, July 4, the society will again sponsor the Fourth of July Community Picnic at 11:30 a.m. on the side lawn of the Mason House. After the presentation of colors and the National Anthem, there will be a two-hour concert by the Portland Brass Quintet.

Dr. Mason began this Fourth of July tradition in the 1850s and the Bethel Historical Society carries it on today. In case of rain, the picnic and concert will be held in the Middle Intervale Meetinghouse (1816) on Intervale Road, approximately four miles downriver from Bethel Hill village.

On Saturday, July 7, the society will host a lecture and book signing by James Witherell, author of “L.L. Bean/The Man and His Company: The Complete Story.”

This program celebrates the 100th anniversary of the L.L. Bean company, and the author will be available afterward to sign copies of his 576-page book. The event will take place in the Mason House exhibit hall, starting at 1:30 p.m.

Between July 7 and Aug. 25, free guided walking tours of portion of Bethel Hill village will take place each Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Led by a summer student intern or a society volunteer, tours last approximately an hour and depart from the bell tower on the north end of the village common.

For more information, contact 824-2908 or 800-824-2910 or [email protected]


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