LIVERMORE — Experience the heritage and culture of 19th-century Maine in a unique, rural setting and witness the humble beginnings of Livermore’s Washburn Family, instrumental in changing the face of politics and business.

Throughout July and August, the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore will be open every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday between 11a.m. and 4 p.m. for “Living History Tours”. It’s best to arrive by 3 p.m. to enjoy the full site.

Visitors to the site are engaged by people, dressed in period clothing, who portray a local person, someone you might have met had you visited in 1800s. It could be “Aunt Clara” cooking in the farmer’s cottage, or a Washburn granddaughter, Ada Washburn, in the elegant 1867 mansion, or the school ma’am, Olive Fuller, in the District #7 one-room schoolhouse. Go back to the basics of reading, writing and ‘rithmetic and use slates, quill pens and early readers.

“Thanks to our incredible team of volunteer interpreters, we are able to be open three days per week. We hope this allows more families the opportunity to experience this unique living history farm. Visitors will also see our new historic timber frame barn being built. It’s an exciting time at the Norlands as our farm animals await their new home.” said Jane Frost, Board of Trustees.

Visitors will also enjoy the impressive library, built of granite in 1883, see portraits of and artifacts belonging to the Washburn family, and learn about their contributions during the Civil War. The Norlands is the ancestral home of Maine’s Civil War Governor, Israel Washburn, Jr. Three of his brothers also played significant roles during the war.

The oldest building on the site is the 1828 Universalist Meeting House. Israel Washburn Sr. and neighbor, Otis Pray, donated the land and raised money by selling pews. It is home to beautiful trompe l’oeil (painting to fool the eye) by 19th-century Portland artist Valentine Keiler.

Between 1813 and 1833, Israel and Martha Washburn of Livermore gave birth to 11 children. Among them were: two state Governors, four Congressmen, one U.S. Senator, two Foreign Ministers, one Civil War General, one Navy Captain, one Secretary of State, the founder of Washburn-Crosby Gold Medal Flour, the inventor of a typewriter, President of the Soo Railroad, and three noted authors. All of them called the Norlands home.

Step back into the 19th century and enjoy an afternoon of history and fun at Maine’s oldest living history farm. Living History Tours are an engaging way, for all ages, to learn what rural Maine life was like in the 1800s. Bring your imagination and ask all the questions you want. Enjoy the quality of place.

A short walk from the Norlands is the Waters Hill Cemetery, where several Civil War veterans and Washburn descendants are laid to rest. A short trail takes you to the Pools of Simeon, reflecting pools designed by William Drew Washburn in 1903. Maps are available in the gift shop. You can bring a picnic lunch and enjoy the beautiful 445 acres of fields, forests, and working farmland.

Admission is $10 adult/$6 age 12 and under. $25 family rate (2 adults and 2-3 children). No appointments necessary. The Norlands is located at 290 Norlands Rd. in Livermore. FMI: Visit or call 207-897-4366.

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