BETHEL — The Bethel Historical Society is eying April 2014 as the finish date for the the Mary E. Valentine Collections Wing, Executive Director Randall Bennett said.

In February, the society received a $200,000 bequest from the Bethel resident who died in 2012. It was the society’s largest-ever gift from an individual.

The money was put toward the construction of a collections wing on the Robinson House on Broad Street.

Bennett said work has moved quickly since construction began in late July.

“It’s been a busy time, but we’re making good progress,” he said. “It’s great to be able to have such a visible unfolding of this new wing. It really has taken on the resemblance of the old Robinson House after it was remodeled in 1880.”

The Robinson House was constructed “sometime around 1821,” Bennett said, and remodeled in 1880. A wing of it was torn down in 1923.


“Luckily, we have some photographs of the house that we’ve been using to build the new wing,” Bennett added.

The basement of the new wing has been fully insulated and the drainage has been installed.

Bennett said the society is looking forward to the arrival of a nine-foot metal spiral staircase that will be used to get from the climate-controlled collection area on the first floor to the basement.

“The staircase was made at a small company in Searsport, and we’re very excited to see how it looks,” Bennett said.

Bennett said the society will hold an open house when the wing is finished.

“The collections wing won’t be something that is normally open to the public, so the open house will be a chance to invite the public in and have a look around,” Bennett said. “After that, it’ll be only staff who are allowed inside.”

For more information on the Mary E. Valentine wing, call the Bethel Historical Society at 824-2908.

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