Bethel’s BIG Event of the Decade
Friday evening mineral and gem museum founders, Dr. Lawrence Stifler and Mary McFadden, hosted a reception, celebration and groundbreaking to mark the start of construction bringing together the Maine Mineral and Gem Museum’s two buildings. The event drew an unexpectedly large crowd of perhaps two hundred plus including Bethel residents and invited guests from the world of minerals and gems. It was announced that the firm of Davis and Hanscom, Inc. of Steep Falls (from the west Sebago Lake area) would be the general contractor – three of the company’s principals attended.
As part of the reception the museums two buildings were open for inspection. Stephen Seames, who is the Museum’s Librarian and Archivist, had prepared an outstanding display in the former Odd Fellows Hall of artifacts, apparel, documents and a beautiful sword that were once used ceremonially by the Odd Fellows order. In the main museum building mineral and gem displays were arranged for viewing and historic maps of mineralogy interest were also mounted for viewing. One of the maps depicted the mineral geology of Maine – and one of the contributors to the map’s preparation, Dr. Arthur Hussey, Bowdoin College Professor Emeritus, was on hand for the groundbreaking.
Keynote speakers for the groundbreaking program held under a tent on ground which will hold the connecting wing included Dr Stifler, Dr. Carl Francis, former Curator of the Harvard Mineralogy Museum and Mary McFadden. Jim Mann, who has been with the founders from the beginning in museum development, was recognized as Bethel’s carrier of the dream to create a landmark mineral and gem museum in Bethel.
Mary McFadden related how a person at a western conference she attended remarked that this museum will be an iconic building – in Bethel, in Oxford County, in Maine and in the world. In his remarks, Dr. Stifler said that we expect to have over 2,000 school children a year visit the museum – we control four mines and besides tours school children will be able to visit the mines as well. Dr. Stifler cited a hundred-year-old axiom of Daniel Burnham, an architect and urban planner who was Director of Works for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893 – make no small plans because small plans do not inspire people to do great things.
After the speeches, Dr. Stifler and Mary McFadden were handed a “golden” pick ax and spade respectively. The pick was swung, a patch of sod was pulled away and a spade of earth was removed.
To wrap up the groundbreaking program, the evening’s “notables” assembled for a group photo. In the group were: Gary Howard, Bath, Maine; Fred Bailey, Andover; Maggie Kroenke, Mt. Mann; Mary McFadden, Founder; Barbara Barrett, Chief of Operations; Mary Freeman; Roberta Hunt, Museum Retailing; Dr. Arthur Hussey; Retired Bowdoin Professor Emeritus; Stephen T. Seames; Museum Librarian and Historian; Lawrence Stifler, Founder; Bob Ritchie; Dennis Powers; Gary Freeman; Jim Clanin. Jay Paulus, exhibitor designer attended but missed the photo op.
Quilt Shop Hop
Kathy Thrall’s The Quilt Shop at the Rostay was part of a special fall quilting tour promotion called “A Quilt Shop Hop through Western Maine.” There are nine quilt shops in the “hop.” Mrs. Thrall’s Bethel quilt shop had the advantage of being in the center of this group. Kathy said that around noontime she got quilt tour hoppers from both directions – those who are making the tour from south to north plus those traveling from north to south. The Hop was on for 12 days – Sept. 27 to Oct. 8
Other quilt shops in the Hop were: in the north sector two are in Farmington, one in Rangeley and one in Wilson’s Mills; in the south, Oxford, South Paris, Waterford and Lovell. A person who enters the Hop is given a passport to be carried to all nine participating shops. (A photo ID is required at each shop.)
Those Hoppers who complete their passport and returned it to Threads Galore Quilt Shop in Rangeley are eligible for an Autumn Splendor prize with the top prize being a $75 gift certificate from each participating shop. Over 200 “hoppers” were given passports. Also many had lunch or dinner in Bethel and some spent the night.
11 Spring Street
A.J. Adler of Andover and crew are currently working on a complete overhaul and expansion of the house at 11 Spring Street, the one just beyond Mike O’Donnell’s house as you drive down the street. I was told that a Massachusetts party had purchased the house for primarily winter use. Target date for completion of the work is Dec. 1. Besides adding a second story for additional bedrooms, windows will all be replaced and pretty much all the framing/studding will be reinforced with new planks.
When Sue Farrar wrote “Spring Street through the Years” for the historical society’s Bethel Courier in 1983, she found that the land where the house stands was given to Moses Pattee in 1856 by Dr. Moses Mason. If you look at the boards and studding of the ground floor of the ell, it is easy to believe that the building has been there that long – it looks aged. According to the town’s FY 2013 tax commitment book, the property had been owned by Vernon and Tamara Davis.
Sign Committee Meeting
Last Tuesday the Committee on Sign Ordinance Reform met to continue discussion and testing of different sections of the plan prepared by consultant David Raphael. Last week the group focused on what are called gateways and decision points – in some ways these places on routes into Bethel are similar to the gates and bridges into a walled castle – go through the gate and you know you’ve arrived.
Mike Broderick and Robin Zinchuk attended the committee’s meeting. Robin gave the committee a rundown on the Chamber’s “gateway” signs and some of the disadvantages with the Chamber information center location. MDOT owns the station building and considers its use as an information center part of the master plan for the station building.
The plan states that “Gateways” are important to communities such as Bethel because they provide the visitor with a sense of arrival. Along with this concept discussion also hit on Welcome to Bethel signs where highways cross the “town lines” – but continues miles further before arriving at a “Gateway” or Bethel village.
The last part of the Tuesday session was about how to treat signs and information at the point where the Sunday River Road intersects with Route 2. Ron Savage brought up the issue that the town business directional signs do not follow state rules for this type of sign because the sign only names the business but does not include the state’s required direction and mileage information.
Interested readers can peruse the full plan; it is available on the Town of Bethel Website in the Town News column – it is called “Bethel Wayfinding” - a .PDF document.
Plein Air Art Group at Artistic Endeavors
Also on Friday evening, the Plein Air Art Group of Melody Bonnema, Saranne Taylor, Betsey Foster, Mary Isham, Lucia Schwarz and Linda Isham opened a showing of their work at Artistic Endeavors at its 171 Main Street gallery. A large group of locals enjoyed gathering, viewing, refreshments and chatting – an offline Facebook for that week. The exhibit will run from Oct. 3 to Oct. 27.
This being the fourth such showing and the fourth chance to see mostly the same people, recalled the movie line from Casablanca about rounding up the “usual suspects.” Then I discovered that the actual line was “round up the usual number of suspects.” Well that line applied too.
Caroline Gould’s Art Show on Main Street
Saturday morning, even though the quilt raffle is over for the year, Mrs. Gould was at her regular station by the Bethel Foodliner this time with a painting to raffle -- benefit the Bethel Senior Citizens. On display was an eye-catching oil painting by Joey McLain of a dark green wooden drift boat, river and a backdrop that looked like an Allagash setting. Kathy and I thought it was a really excellent painting. The artist’s parents are Lisa and Steve McClain of Gilead.