NORWAY — The great-granddaughter of John  Roberts, Maine’s commissioner of agriculture from 1913-1918 and former owner of the Pike Roberts House, recently toured the historic farmhouse for the first time since shortly after World War II.

Lee Dassler of the Western Maine Foothills Land Trust, which oversees the site and the restoration of the 1823 farmhouse, said she met Linda Bergmann and her niece, Erica Givens, Roberts’ great-granddaughter and great-great-granddaughter, respectively, when they visited Western Maine in March.

Although Bergmann said she made a brief visit to view the outside of the house in 1978 during a family funeral, she had not seen the inside since she was 5 years old, shortly after the end of World War II.

“Linda had not been on site since after World War II when she was 5 years old, and yet she remembered the rooms and central stairway of the old house, currently awaiting restoration,” Dassler said.

Roberts assumed management of the former Henry Pike estate in 1880 after marrying Henry Pike’s daughter. The one-room-deep house, with its center chimney and hip roof, was built by Henry Pike in 1823.

Roberts transformed it into a model Maine farm.

His grandson, John Roberts II, who died in 2005, was the father of Bergmann and grandfather of Givens. Givens’ mother is Bergmann’s twin sister, Lucie, who lives in Washington state. Givens works for General Eletric in Massachusetts, like her grandfather, John Roberts II, did.

Bergmann recalled her stay at the farmhouse.

“When we were 5, we spent a few days there,” Bergmann said recently in an email. She said Roberts’ siblings Mary and Betty and Betty’s husband, Ed, were also at the house at the time.

“I remember that Ed was really good at telling stories, and Mary liked plays and drama. I remember a lot of flowers, a bull if I remember correctly,” said Bergmann, who lives in Massachusetts.

Bergmann, who currently teaches computer applications and concepts, a basic computer class at Bunker Hill Community College, and her niece also spent time at the site snowshoeing the Noyes trail up to the old sugarbush and back to the 1823 Pike Roberts farmhouse with Dassler.

Bergmann said her father delivered milk as a youngster and skied to school in Norway while living on the farm until his early 20s.

Dassler said Roberts’ descendants concurred their father and grandfather would be very pleased with the school program on site and with the recreational trails on the Preserve.

Coincidentally, Bergmann’s father served on his Lynnfield, Mass., Conservation Commission, protected a portion of his land with a conservation easement and had an extensive garden at his home, Dassler said.

She said she first connected with Bergmann about the Roberts Farm project in 2008 after finding her in a Web search.

The Western Foothills Land Trust purchased the four-room, two-story, wood-frame house and five-acre lot on the edge of the Roberts Farm Preserve on Pikes Hill.

The entire 160-acre property was purchased by the Western Foothills Land Trust in 2009. Since then, the farmland has been developed into a trail system for hikers, cross country skiers and others.

The farmhouse is being restored for meeting space and farmstead exhibits on the first floor and Land Trust offices above. The land abutting the farmhouse has been established for a school garden program.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: