Talk about a captive audience.
Team members had plenty of work to do getting ready for last night’s community conversation in Hallowell, but none of it involved begging for customers. Nearly 50 people showed up for the festivities in this tiny city of just under 2,500 residents. The second-floor auditorium in the Classic Revival-style City Hall building, which one ascends via charmingly curved staircase steps, was an ideal venue for the event.
Hallowell seems to boast more than its share of avid devotees of its history. And no wonder: with all the activity related to the Kennebec River, breakthroughs in medicine, a nationally-recognized granite industry, historic architecture, and much, much more, there’s plenty of material to go around.
Team leader Bob McIntire opened the event with a well-crafted old photo slideshow that whetted the appetite of the crowd. After MHS Assistant Director Steve Bromage explained the MCHP and Maine Memory Network in more detail–including showing one of the items the team already has online— each team member took the microphone to explain a particular aspect of the project.
Gerry Mahoney, of Row House, a historic preservation group, marveled at the “investigative” nature of writing the narrative and how, as much as he’s studied the city, “there’s always more” to uncover. Teachers Wendy Wingate and Libby Ladner, along with 8th-grader Erin Ballew, discussed Hall-Dale Middle School’s plans, based a pilot project the 7th grade class undertook last year. Sam Webber, a trustee of Hubbard Library, described the planned exhibit topics (on the subjects areas noted above, plus “disasters” natural and man-made) and what kinds of items might be scanned. Finally, Jane Radcliffe, of the Vaughan Homestead Foundation, offered a quick overview of the cataloging process.
When Bob returned to the front and asked the crowd to break for sharing of ideas, completing “Can You Help?” sheets that asked for further topic suggestions and resources, and munching on tasty Slate’s cookies, he didn’t have to ask twice. About 20 minutes of convivial conversation ensued in all corners of the room.
By the sound of it, and the sight of a stack of dutifully filled out contact sheets, this team has no shortage of history buffs ready and waiting to put the shine on the MCHP.