BOOTS ON THE GROUND RETURNS
The Knox Museum will kick off the 2013 season with its second annual Boots on the Ground, a Memorial Day Weekend community event honoring America’s veterans and active military personnel and their families, on Saturday, May 25 at 11 am. The event takes place on the grounds of Montpelier, the big white house just off Route 1 at the turn to Saint George in Thomaston. Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Peter W. Ogden, Maine State Director of Veterans’ Affairs, will give the keynote address. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.
A dress parade begins the proceedings at 11 am. Color guards, rifle units, veterans, active military, re-enactors, scouts, drum and bugle corps, bagpiper, and costumed Montpelier docents will gather directly behind Montpelier and march around to the flagpole in front of the building where spectators and special guests will be seated. Parade participation is open to all, and those wishing to march should arrive by 10:30 am and check in with American Legion District 6 Commander Ronald A. Rainfrette, who serves as master of ceremonies for Boots on the Ground again this year.
Following the parade a color guard raises the flag, soloist Harry Grant performs the National Anthem, and some brief speeches, prayers, and tributes are given leading up to Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Peter W. Ogden’s memorial address. Ceremonies conclude with a wreath being laid for the fallen in the name of General Henry Knox, who served as Chief of Artillery under George Washington in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.
At the conclusion of the ceremonies Tenants Harbor Masons and Knox Museum personnel will serve lunch, some of which is provided by generous donations from Hannaford, along with the Masons. Hannaford will also conduct drawings for gift certificates worth $300 of groceries, and Applebee’s contributes two $25 gift certificates for redemption at their restaurant.
Major funding for Boots on the Ground has been provided by Camden National Bank, Allen Insurance and Financial, Bar Harbor Bank and Trust, Central Maine Power Co., and by Lorinda and Bradley Boyd, Holly Boyd and Nicholas Ruffin, and Edwin and Sally Ann Williamson.
Midcoast Community Band, under the direction of Joanne Parker, will provide the musical entertainment, and there will be face-painting and games for children. Radio station New Country Bear 97.1 will broadcast live from the festivities.
Montpelier opens for tours for the season at 10 am on May 25. As a member of Blue Star Museums, Montpelier offers free admission to active military families all season long, and will additionally offer free military-themed tours for veterans and their families following Boots on the Ground. And for those unable to navigate Montpelier’s stairs, costumed docents will circulate during lunch to answer questions and share stories about Henry Knox and his service.
Montpelier will be open for tours regularly each week on Thursdays and Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, as well as additionally on days when special community events are scheduled. Regular 2013 tour admission is Adults $10, Seniors & AAA $8, Children aged 5-13 $4, Children under 5 are free, and there is a flat Family Rate of $20.
Boots on the Ground will go on rain or shine, and attendees are asked to bring a blanket or lawn chairs. Some seating will be provided. For more information contact email@example.com or 354-8062.
Thank you for your service: An attendee at 2012’s Boots on the Ground thanks (from left) Army Chaplain (ret.) Reverend James Robbins, Museum docent & WWII veteran Harry Grant, and Vietnam veteran Commander Ronald A. Rainfrette for their service.
LADY KNOX DAR PRESENTS MAP TO KNOX MUSEUM
On Thursday, January 17, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Lady Knox Chapter hosted an open house at the Samoset Resort in Rockport to celebrate its 115th birthday. DAR State and Chapter members, prospective new members, and representatives from local historical societies and museums attended. Lady Knox Chapter Regent Suzy Shaub, right, presented a copy of a 1776 map of Boston Harbor to The General Henry Knox Museum’s Collections Manager, Matthew Hansbury, center, and Interim Executive Director, Howard Lowell, left, to be used at Montpelier for educational purposes during guided tours. DAR purchased the map with proceeds from a bake sale they held at Montpelier in October
FOLLOWING THEIR FOOTSTEPS: THE KNOX TRAIL HONOR WALK OF 2012
Trail Map Poster
During the winter of 1775-1776, Colonel Henry Knox left Boston,
marched to New York's Fort Ticonderoga, and – with a team of men and
oxen – hauled more than 50 tons of cannons and other arms back to
Boston's Dorchester Heights. The threat of these cannons firing on
British ships in Boston Harbor led to the British evacuation of Boston, a
major victory for the fledging Continental Army.
In 1926, New York and Massachusetts began installing
commemorative markers that traced the so-called "Knox Trail" at
locations in the two states.
In April of 2012, staff members of Patriots of the American Revolution Magazine will walk the Knox Trail.
The mission: to honor Henry Knox and his "noble train of
artillery," to raise awareness of and promote the Knox Trail as a unique
American historical route, and to help the American Revolution
Association raise needed money for history-based museums and parks with
connections to Henry Knox and the Knox Trail., including The General
Henry Knox Museum.
Starting from Fort Ticonderoga on Friday, April 6, 2012,
Patriots of the American Revolution Managing Editor Benjamin Smith and
Copyeditor Alex Culpepper will march south along Lake George and the
Hudson River to Kinderhook, New York, where they will veer east into
Massachusetts, aiming to reach Dorchester Heights in Boston National
Historical Park on Wednesday, April 18. Along the way they will take
photographs of the various markers along the Knox Trail and document
their trip for in-depth articles about the Trail that will run in future
issues of Patriots of the American Revolution magazine.
Donations received by corporations and private individuals will
be collected by the American Revolution Association and distributed
directly and equally to the following four museums and parks: Fort
Ticonderoga (www.fortticonderoga.org), New York State Military Museum
(http://dmna.state.ny.us/historic/mil-hist.htm), Boston National
Historical Park (www.nps.gov/bost/index.htm) and Montpelier, The General
Henry Knox Museum (www.generalknoxmuseum.org). Patriots of the American
Revolution and the American Revolution Association will keep none of
Checks should be made out to the American Revolution Association and sent to:
Knox Trail Honor Walk
P.O. Box 838
Yellow Springs, OH 45387
For questions about the Knox Trail Honor Walk, please call
937.767.1433 or email Vicki McClellan at firstname.lastname@example.org. For
more information about Patriots of the American Revolution Magazine and
the American Revolution Association, please visit www.patriotsar.com.
THE GENERAL HENRY KNOX MUSEUM LAUNCHES SIGNATURE SOCIETY
The General Henry Knox Museum announces the launch of a major donor society, the Signature Society.
The Signature Society is a newly-forming society that combines
major gift levels of Museum membership and annual appeal support to
qualify for special benefits. The purpose of this society is to
encourage the levels of financial support required both to sustain and
to expand the museum's programs and services. Society members will
receive one appeal for a combined membership and annual appeal donation
Membership is at three levels: 1) $1,000-2,499, 2) $2,500-4,999,
and 3) $5,000 plus. Benefits, detailed below, include special
recognition as Signature Society members, and unique privileges such as a
25% museum shop discount, specially-scheduled private tours, discounted
rental use of the facilities, and honored guest status at the museum's
annual premier benefit.
Through the life of Henry Knox and his family, midcoast Maine
history is uniquely intertwined with the history of the American
Revolution and our founding fathers. Through strong support from those
who value this history, The General Henry Knox Museum strives to keep
alive a knowledge and appreciation of the life and times of Knox.
Benefits for all levels:
x Recognition in printed literature as a Signature Society member
x Invitations to special receptions
x 25% discount in the Museum Gift Shop
$1,000 - $2,499
x The ability to schedule a private tour with a regular docent
x One ticket to the museum's annual premier benefit
$2,500 - $4,999
xThe ability to schedule a private tour with Museum staff
x 20% discount on Museum rental fees
x The ability to schedule a private tour and tea with the Executive Director
x 20% discount on Museum rental fees
x Four tickets to the museum's annual premier benefit
To sign up as a founding member of the Signature Society, please
make an unrestricted donation of $1,000 or more by December 31, 2010.
Please contact the Museum at (207) 354-8062 or email@example.com for
THOMASTON COLLABORATION CREATES HERITAGE WEB SITE
The Maine Community Heritage Project (MCHP), a partnership
between the Maine Historical Society and Maine State Library, is an
innovative program that promotes collaboration between local schools,
historical societies, and public libraries through the exploration and
celebration of local history.
In May of 2008, the Thomaston Historical Society, Thomaston
Public Library, Georges Valley High School and the General Henry Knox
Museum were chosen as one of the beta groups to create a town heritage
web site, funded through a grant from the Institute of Museum and
Library Services. After a year of intense research and writing, the site
was unveiled in June of 2009.
To learn more about Thomaston's history and the project, see thomaston.mainememory.net.
THE GENERAL HENRY KNOX MUSEUM SELECTED FOR NATIONAL MUSEUM ASSESSMENT PROGRAM
The General Henry Knox Museum has been selected to participate
in the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) of the American Association of
Museums (AAM). Through guided self-study and on-site consultation with a
museum professional, participation in MAP will help the Museum better
serve the public.
Participant museums choose one of four categories for
assessment: collections management, governance, institutional, and
public dimension. The General Henry Knox Museum will take part in the
public dimension assessment process, which considers the public's
perception, experience and involvement with the museum. The assessment
will assist the Museum in effectively communicating with the public and
help the museum identify and strengthen collaborations with other
organizations around the country. It includes a review of all the ways
in which the museum interacts with its audiences, including marketing,
public relations, audience developments, and exhibitions.
Administered by AAM through a cooperative agreement with the
federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), MAP is an
entirely self-motivated program; application to and participation in MAP
is initiated by each local institution; and those accepted from among
the dozens of annual applicants invest considerable human and
institutional resources into the assessment. Of America's estimated
17,500 museums, less than half of one percent participate in MAP each
Museums of all types, including art, history, science and
technology, children's, natural history, historic houses, nature
centers, botanical gardens, and zoos participate in the program.
"Choosing to be part of the MAP program is indicative of the commitment
to civic involvement, public service and overall excellence on the part
of The General Henry Knox Museum," said Ford W. Bell, president of AAM.
"Studies have shown America's museums to be among the country's most
trusted and valued institutions. MAP is designed to make them even
Since its creation in 1981, MAP has provided more than 5,000
assessments for 3,500 museums. Museums representing 37 states and the
U.S. Virgin Islands have been accepted into the program this year.
Further information about MAP is available at www.aam-us.org/museumresources/map/about.cfm.
AAM is the only organization representing the nation's entire museum
community and has been dedicated to promoting excellence within the
museum field for more than 100 years. The Institute of Museum and
Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the
nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. To learn more about IMLS,
WARREN COMMUNITY SCHOOL UNVEILS KNOX CANAL QUEST
Teacher from summer institute completes quest.
The sixth grade at Warren Community School, working with the
Warren Historical Society, the Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation
District, and The General Henry Knox Museum, recently developed and
unveiled a community "quest" along the site of Warren's lock and canal
system developed by Henry Knox.
"Questing," similar to the British pastime of letterboxing, is a
process in which classrooms or other community groups design "treasure
hunts" within the community. Using a series of clues and/or maps, quest
creators direct those who follow the quest along a set path, teaching
them about local history and environment along the way. At the end of
the path, the "quester" must find a hidden treasure box with a logbook
inside. Delia Clark, author of "Questing: A Guide to Creating Community
Treasure Hunts" and presenter at the Knox museum's summer teacher
institute, has developed very successful community questing programs in
Vermont, and is hopeful that the concept will blossom in Maine as well.
The Knox Canal Quest, which starts at Payson Park on Route 90 in
Warren, is an excellent way to explore a National Register of Historic
Places site, while learning more about Knox's involvement in the
economic development of the local community. Those interested in
following the quest can pick up the clues at Warren Community School,
Lincoln's Country Market, the Warren Historical Society, the Warren Free
Library or on the Knox museum's web site, www.knoxmuseum.org.
DONOR ESTABLISHES ACQUISITIONS FUND AT THE GENERAL HENRY KNOX MUSEUM
Last spring, a chair said to have come from the original
Montpelier came up for auction at a local auction house. Sadly, the
museum had to pass up the opportunity to bid on it -- the acquisitions
fund held under $100 and the museum was not able to identify a donor to
purchase it for the museum in the short amount of time before the
Happily, the museum will not find itself in that position the
next time an original Knox piece is on the auction block. This summer,
museum friend Mary Alice Foster presented a $50,000 check to Development
Committee Co-Chair Molly Kellogg to establish a real acquisitions fund.
"I wanted to do something that would make a real difference to the
museum," noted Foster. And indeed, she did: Her generous donation will
be used to reclaim Knox and Montpelier items, and is expected to make a
huge impact on the development of Montpelier's collections for years to
Anyone interested in donating to the museum's collection or the
acquisitions fund should contact Ellen Dyer at (207) 354-0180 or
KNOX MUSEUM RECEIVES $79,000 FEDERAL GRANT
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. Tom Allen announced Monday that the
Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federally-funded
grant-making agency, is awarding Museums for America grants totaling
$365,863 to four Maine museums, including one in Thomaston.
The Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum at Bowdoin College in
Brunswick is receiving $109,238; the Yarmouth Historical Society is
receiving $34,671; the Portland Museum of Art is receiving $142,720; and
the General Henry Knox Museum in Thomaston is receiving $79,234.
"Maine's museums are a crucial component of the state's vibrant
cultural life," said Allen. "They connect us to our rich history and can
play an important role in Maine's public schools. I congratulate each
of the recipients of this year's Museums for America grants and thank
them for their contributions to Maine's communities."
The General Henry Knox Museum is matching its IMLS grant with
$79,666. To promote and support the teaching of history, the museum is
establishing both the Center for the Study of Early American History and
a collaboration among Midcoast Maine's historical organizations and
The Peary MacMillan Arctic Museum is matching the IMLS grant
with $120,120. The museum is creating an exhibit, "Northward Over the
Great Ice," to commemorate the 100th anniversary of American explorer
Robert Peary's exploration of the North Pole. The exhibit plans call for
an artifact-based interpretive exhibit, placing Peary's work and that
of his American and Inuit crews in social and technological context. The
grant funds will support the interpretive and outreach components of
The Yarmouth Historical Society, which is providing matching
funds of $34,961 to its IMLS grant, is hiring a professional museum
educator. The educator will meet with community groups and school
representatives to discuss educational needs, develop public
presentations, organize volunteers and plan for future programming and
The Portland Museum of Art is providing matching funds of
$144,518 to its IMLS grant for exterior signage, an exterior way finding
system, improved seating and added in-gallery interpretive tools.
THE GENERAL HENRY KNOX MUSEUM BEGINS EXPANSION PROGRAM
Montpelier, the General Henry Knox Museum, is about to take
a significant first step in implementing a Long-Range Capital
Improvements Plan at its prominent site at the intersection of Routes 1
and 131 south.
A $230,000 anonymous grant will make possible a relocated
entrance to the property, installation of period cannons and two
flagpoles; a paved parking area for 30 vehicles; walking paths, new
landscaping, lighting and educational markers; and restoration of the
original east elevation porch of Montpelier, providing for a visitors'
entrance on the main level of the building. Work will begin soon and is
expected to be completed by July. Engineering and surveying work is by
the Rockport firm of Gartley & Dorsky.
The educational markers will be modeled after those used for
Thomaston's Museum in the Streets, a creation of Patrick Cardon, the
museum's co-vice chairman. He has been a primary contributor to the
development of the long-range plan.
Overseeing the project is Herb Duncan of Rockport, a retired
architect and a member of the Museum's Development Committee. "We want
to build up interest in that big house, where it often looks like
nobody's home," he said.
This work is a prelude to more expansive--and more
expensive--work. The showpiece of the Long-Range Plan will be the
reconstruction of the North Parish Meeting House, to serve as the
museum's visitor and education center. Knox helped pay for the original
meeting house, erected in 1796 and razed in the 1960s. Renny Stackpole,
former museum chairman and trustee and now leading the museum's new
Center for the Study of Early American History, said the rebirth of the
meeting house in a location very close to the original, where Knox
himself worshiped, would honor the town's past as well as provide space
for exhibits, programming, a research library, a gift shop, meeting
space and offices.
The exterior of the Meeting House, as viewed from Route 131,
will replicate the old building, and there will be a small contemporary
foyer at the back, close to the parking area. Plans even call for
re-mounting the meeting house's original Paul Revere bell in the rebuilt
steeple. The building's interior will be very different, of course, and
designed for new uses. Phase II of the Long-Range Plan, projected to
take as long as nine years, are gardens, including one designed (but
never built) by the office of Frederick Law Olmsted for the re-created
Montpelier, a Revolutionary War encampment site, an armory; a General's
Store; extensive site-wide landscaping, and a maintenance building.
Trustees hope this spring's project of improving the site's
appearance and access will increase visitor traffic and have a positive
impact generally. "Implementing this first phase is the linchpin for
everything else in the long-range plan," Duncan said. "We have to build
up the interest base." Montpelier opened in 1931, the result of hard
work by townsfolk and the local chapter of the Daughters of the American
Revolution and the generosity of publishing magnate Cyrus H.K. Curtis.
The building is a reconstruction of the one built in 1794 by Knox,
Revolutionary War hero and the country's first Secretary of War, at the
base of Knox Street on the banks of the St. George River. Knox Street,
in fact, was Knox's driveway. His local business endeavors, which
provided employment for many local residents, included real estate,
farming, brick making, lime quarrying, shipping and road building. His
fame, his wife's wealth and District of Maine connection (her family
owned 570,000 acres, the Waldo Patent), and his robust, outgoing
personality gave him what today might be called a host-of-the-Midcoast
reputation. He died in 1806, at the age of 56. The original Montpelier
deteriorated and was razed in 1871, making way for the railroad; only
one of its original outbuildings is extant, now the home of the
Thomaston Historical Society.
Duncan said the motivation for his recent involvement with
Montpelier was, in fact, the story of the building's history. Long
active in historic restoration in Missouri, he said he had never heard
of a historic building being reconstructed in such a way. "It's such a
wonderfully bizarre story that the current Montpelier is even there.
It's a huge credit to Thomaston that the people thought enough of their
own history to recreate the building. I'd never heard of anything quite
like it," he said.
Before moving to Rockport full time three years ago, Duncan was a
part-time resident. Like many, he said, he drove past Montpelier year
after year, put off by its majesty and the surrounding austerity, never
stopping. That prevailing sentiment is in the introduction to the
long-range plan: "It is impossible to miss Montpelier on its high hill
when a visitor drives north on U.S. Route 1. Unfortunately, this
historic building appears to have no life and no visible activity. There
is no appeal except the classic look of a period exterior to encourage
anyone to stop, visit and to appreciate the full impact of a very
Numbers bear this out. Visitor numbers at the Farnsworth Art
Museum in Rockland and the Owls Head Transportation Museum, major
Midcoast destinations, far surpass those at Montpelier, The General
Henry Knox Museum. In an effort to help get the word out, the museum has
become a partner at the Gateway Center on Park Drive in Rockland, home
of the Maine Lighthouse Museum and the Maine Discovery Center, which
highlights area attractions. "We know there is huge potential at
Montpelier, and implementing the long-range plan should help us realize
it," Stackpole said. Museum officials have consulted with Earle G.
Shettleworth Jr., director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission
and also the state's official historian, about their ideas for the
site. "I am excited about the plans to continue the restoration of The
General Henry Knox Museum as well as to make significant improvements to
the grounds," he said.
For decades the Knox Memorial Association and then the state
operated the museum. The Friends of Montpelier took over that function
in the 1980s and acquired ownership in 1999. In the last five years, the
positions of museum manager and curator and education director have
been created and filled. Volunteers continue to be the backbone of the
organization, serving as docents, clerks in the gift shop, and planners
and participants in an increasing number of events. In 2002 a tradition
of significant giving to the museum was established with a challenge
grant from the Sunshine Lady Foundation led by Doris Buffett of Camden
Last year, Pulitzer Prize-winning author David McCullough's
bestseller "1776," which highlighted Knox's leadership and heroism,
friendship with George Washington, and important national role, was a
boost for the museum. McCullough, a seasonal area resident, presented a
talk at Montpelier in July and then recorded an interview with C-SPAN's
Brian Lamb in the museum's Oval Room, providing national exposure for
the site. The popular historian subsequently inspired Montpelier's new
Center for the Study of Early American History, an endeavor made
possible by financial support from Buffett. The center's first training
institute for Maine teachers of history, in which McCullough will
participate, will be based July 18-28 in a tent on Montpelier's spacious
lawn, highlighting the site's new improvements and the potential
represented in the long-range plan.
Molly Kellogg, the museum's other co-vice chairman, said great
strides have been made in the past several years. "The annual budget has
roughly doubled, the museum is active year-round, with two regular
staff including a professional curator, and it is now a platform for a
high-quality educational program guided by David McCullough. Programming
has increased dramatically, and the grounds are scheduled for a huge
improvement thanks to the anonymous grant." Further, she said she hopes
the work this spring will lead to interest from other donors who will
see the need to support the goals of the long-range plan. "For the
state, and even for the country, Montpelier is a much needed center for
historical awareness, sadly lacking in today's culture. The museum
serves as a reminder of our origins and roots, and the high ideals that
should still govern both our public affairs and private standards of
living and conduct. For the area, and for Thomaston, an enhanced
Montpelier will tie together the historical connections that created and
account for the architectural beauty and achievement of this coastal
region, and its future potential."
For further information about the long-range plan or the museum,
contact Susan Rowling, museum manager, at 354-8062, or Ellen Dyer,
curator and education director, at 354-0180.
RESTORED BANNER ATTRACTS NATIONAL ATTENTION
newly restored Thomaston Cavalry Banner, on display at Montpelier, the
Gen. Henry Knox Museum, since July 2005, is attracting some national
An article by Ellen Dyer, museum curator and education director,
about the colorful, hand-painted, 32-inch-by-35-inch silk appeared in
"Sweet Land of Liberty," the catalog of the 51st Washington Antiques
Show, held Jan. 5-8 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in the nation's capital.
The event is a benefit for the Charities of the Thrift Shop and attracts
high-end dealers and thousands of shoppers eager both for important
objects and education.
Each year's show has a theme from which a catalog is developed.
Catalog editor Cynthia Redick had learned of the banner from museum
trustee Molly Kellogg, who splits her year between Thomaston and
Washington. "Redick saw the graphic of the banner and thought it fit in
nicely with the liberty theme, and asked me to write an article for the
catalog," Dyer said.
Subtitled "Images of America in the Arts of the New Republic,"
the catalog's other articles include those about silversmith and patriot
Paul Revere, American schoolgirl art, and objects associated with
The Thomaston Cavalry Banner was presented by the Lady Knox
Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution to the Knox Memorial
Association in 1932, shortly after Montpelier opened. The mansion is a
replica of the one that Knox, Revolutionary War hero and the nation's
first secretary of war, had built on the banks of the St. George River
in 1794. The provenance of the fragile silk was not documented but the
DAR believed it to be significant.
"With his background and interest in military matters, Henry
Knox had been a firm supporter of militia groups, and through his
efforts militia companies had been organized in the Thomaston area,
including the Thomaston Cavalry," Dyer writes. "The cavalry marched at
his funeral in 1806, and, according to legend, carried the Thomaston
or decades the banner was exhibited at Montpelier, inadequately
framed and with its reverse side obscured. It was considered an
important piece of history but something of a mystery. In 1983, dirty,
brittle and sun-damaged, it was retired from public view, awaiting the
funding that would allow proper conservation and expert evaluation.
Interest in the banner was renewed a few years ago and two conflicting
theories about its origin were advanced. One dates it to the 1820s, with
the artist being Maine landscape painter Charles Codman. The other
supports the legend that it indeed may have been carried in the Knox
funeral procession and that it was painted by Codman's teacher, John
n the article, Dyer carefully examines both theories and cites
the experts. Although part of the banner's mystery remains, Dyer said
her greatest joy is that the graceful artifact has been restored and is
again on display, in accordance with proper museum practices today. Dyer
calls it "one of the most treasured objects in the collection of the
General Henry Knox Museum." Images of Knox and the banner accompany the
yer, who has been with the museum since 2003 and is responsible
for the development of its first collections catalog, attended the
antiques show and a keynote lecture by "Antiques Roadshow" regular Leigh
Keno on "New Discoveries in the Marketplace." In addition, she spent
several hours at the Library of Congress examining a 1796 account book
belonging to Henry Knox, and visited the Anderson House, home of the
Society of the Cincinnati (founded by Knox), meeting with the library
director and discussing ways for the two historic sites to collaborate.
The Henry Knox Museum has limited public hours during the winter
but gears up for tours and educational activity in the spring. For more
information, call Dyer at 354-0180.
MONTPELIER UNVEILS ITS FIRST COLLECTIONS CATALOGUE
The General Henry Knox Museum is proud to announce the
publication of the Museum's first collections catalogue. Entitled
Montpelier: This Spot So Sacred To A Name So Great, the catalogue
presents highlights from the museum's significant collection of Federal
Period furnishings. It was officially unveiled to great acclaimation at
gala on July 23, 2004 with 130 people in attendance.
The catalogue project began in the fall of 2002, when Doris
Buffett of the Sunshine Lady Foundation approached the Friends of
Montpelier and initiated the Patriot Challenge, in which her foundation
matched $100,000 raised by the museum for preservation and registration
projects. High on the list of Montpelier's priorities was better
documentation of its collections, and the published catalogue showcases
the eighteen months of research completed by archivist Ellen Dyer, hired
for the project. Objects included in the catalogue range from silver to
Society of the Cincinnati China trade porcelain to furniture to period
wallpaper and building parts. Significant support for the catalogue was
also provided by the MBNA Foundation and a research fellowship from
Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library. The Maine Historical Society,
where Knox's financial papers reside, provided significant assistance.
Collections Catalogue Preview
The full-color catalogue is available through Montpelier's gift shop.
THOMASTON CAVALRY BANNER RESTORATION
The Thomaston Cavalry was one of two local militia units started
by the patriot Major General Henry Knox, following his retirement to
the province of Maine after serving as George Washington's chief of
artillery in the American Revolution, and as the nation's first
Secretary of War. Evidence indicates that the cavalry was formally
organized about 1800-1801, and according to local historian Cyrus Eaton,
the cavalry marched in Knox's funeral procession in 1806.
thirty inch square painted silk banner, bearing the name of the
Thomaston Cavalry, was donated to Montpelier, the General Henry Knox
Museum by a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in
1932. In accordance with museum practice at the time, the banner was
prepared for display by mounting it to a board and framing it. This has
made the banner a bit of a mystery to those in the present.
There are two distinct schools of thought on who painted this
banner and when: According to David Martucci, past-president of the
North American Vexillological Association, there are several reasons to
believe that the banner was made ca. 1800. The size of the flag, and its
color and design, conform in some detail to that specified by the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1786 (under whose auspices local
militias would have been formed before Maine became a state in 1820).
Furthermore, the shield on the banner has 15 stripes, the number that
would have commonly appeared on a flag of this type between 1792 and
1796—after Kentucky's admission as the fifteenth state of the union, but
before Tennessee's admission as the sixteenth. Finally, the 1799
Thomaston Town Meeting appropriated $200 for flags for its militia
companies. "You have to understand how unusual this is," states
Martucci. "The Commonwealth supplied flags to the regular militia
companies at no cost to the towns. At this time, Thomaston fielded five
militia companies, three regular State Militia Companies and two 'elite'
units—the Thomaston Artillery and the Thomaston Cavalry—which were
armed and accoutered solely by local funds." Although unstated, Martucci
believes the appropriation was for the benefit of the two elite militia
Earle Shettleworth, Director of the Maine Historic Preservation
Commission, and expert on Portland Maine's celebrated landscape painter
Charles Codman, associates the banner's style of painting with Codman,
who began working in the 1820s.-Codman is certainly on record as having
painted a number of banners for Maine military companies. The Maine
State Museum houses a military banner for the Kennebec Guards, painted
by Codman, that has a similar floral motif and eagle. Even allowing for
an 1820s date, however, the Knox Museum's Thomaston Cavalry Banner is
one of the oldest extant banners for a Maine militia group, probably
rivaled only by a fragment of an 1822 banner at the Maine State Museum
and a 1745 banner at the Smithsonian. It is one of only a handful of US
military banners that survive from such an early date.
Montpelier is hoping to unravel the mystery of the flag's
origins during the 2004-2005 winter season by revealing its hidden side.
Most banners of that period were painted on both sides, and the board
on which this one is mounted may be concealing the Massachusetts Arms,
elements of the Maine seal, an artist's signature, or even a date—any of
which would be clues to its origin. Because of its fragile condition,
the banner has been in deep storage at the Maine State Museum's
conservation lab since the mid 1980s. However, the Henry Knox Museum's
recent Patriot Challenge to raise funds for conservation projects, and a
generous grant from the MBNA Foundation, have provided the means for
Spicer Art Conservation, LLC in Delmar, NY to begin work on stabilizing
the banner, removing the board, and answering some of the questions.
More important than solving this mystery, however, is the fact that an
important relic of Maine's history, so closely associated with one of
the country's founding fathers, will be returning to its community and
to the public after two decades of being hidden away.
MEDIA & PHOTOGRAPHY REQUESTS
All requests for interviews, photography, or filming must be submitted to:
Director of Programming and Marketing
Montpelier, The General Henry Knox Museum
PO Box 326
Thomaston, ME 04861
Tel: (207) 354-8062
Fax: (207) 354-3501