Beloved Local Artist, Frank Handlen, Celebrates 105th Birthday with the Kennebunkport Historical Society
Sculptor, Artist, Shipwright, and community friend, Frank Handlen is turning 105 years old at the end of September and the Kennebunkport Historical Society is honoring his commitment to our community with a lecture followed by an open house reception and fundraising auction at the Townhouse School.
On Friday, October 1, 2021, former Society President and long-time stakeholder, Peter Whalen, will honor Frank Handlen with a lecture about his life, his work, and his long-time commitment to the Kennebunkport community.
The Society will flank the schoolhouse with its collection of Frank Handlen original pieces as an exhibit. Frank has generously offered an original piece of art to kick off an auction that will be introduced that evening and run through Indigenous People’s Day, October 11, 2021. All auction items will be listed on eBay and bids will be accepted as a fundraiser for the Society.
The Society asks the community to participate in the following ways:
- Kindly write a birthday card to Frank Handlen and include a question you may have about his life in Kennebunkport. Please send card to the Society: PO Box 1173, Kennebunkport, ME 04046
- Consider donating an item for auction: photograph, painting, gift card for your business, service item, or other.
- Follow the auction and place bids
- Consider joining the Society as a member
Tickets are free for members (with reservation) and will be made available in advance to members through September 13. After which, tickets will be sold to the public for $10.00. Tickets are limited and masks will be required for all attendees.
Frank Handlen will do his best to attend the festivities.
The Society will make the lecture available as a virtual link after the live event.
For more information about the lecture and how you might donate to the auction, please check out our website: KportHS.com or email: KHaight@KportHS.com or call 207-967-2751.
The Kennebunkport Historical Society Announces New Oral History Project
The Kennebunkport Historical Society is pleased to announce an intergenerational video project designed to capture the oral history of Kennebunkport by interviewing its oldest citizens.
“We are so excited about this project and all of its possibilities,” shared Kristin Haight, executive director, “by collecting oral histories and connecting with Kennebunkport’s elders, we will be able to deepen our understanding of recent history and create valuable first hand stories and images for future generations.”
The project will launch in September 2021 with the call for citizens over 100 years old. Frank Handlen, for example, a beloved Kennebunkport artist, sculptor and community friend, will turn 105 at the end of September and has agreed to be our first interviewee. The Society will honor his life and work with a lecture by Peter Whalen on October 1 at 1pm. (Details and tickets available to members starting 9/1/2021).
October will focus on people who are in their 90s. November will seek citizens in their 80s, December: 70s, and so on. We aim to grow our video- archive collection with this project and include our community youth as well.
Interviews will be scheduled for Tuesdays and will take place at the Townhouse School or virtually. If you or someone you know would like to
participate in the Oral History Project, please contact Kristin Haight at KHaight@KportHS.com or call the office at 207-967-2751. If a participant would prefer that our team come to you, record the interview virtually, or offer transportation, please let us know.
For more information about how you can participate, become a member, volunteer, or make a gift to support our programming, please visit: KPortHS.com. Thank you for your support, Kennebunkport!
August Update from the desk of the Executive Director:
Dear Kennebunkport Historical Society Members,
It is with humility, gratitude, and excitement that I join the team at the Kennebunkport Historical Society. I appreciate how many of you welcomed me.
I look forward to stewarding the mission of preserving Kennebunkport’s history and begin by asking for your support.
This year has been challenging for so many, and nonprofits are no exception. The Kennebunkport Historical Society ceased operations, fundraising events were canceled, and the newly renovated schoolhouse was never utilized for private functions, live music, and lectures.
Through these troubled times, our team pressed on. It is with gratitude to so many of you who kept the KHS going that I accept the helm:
- Thank you to our Board members who met via Zoom to ensure stability.
- Thanks, to our staff, Emma Stevens, Sharon Cummins, and, of course, Kirsten Camp, who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, without taking a paycheck, making certain the duties of care were performed.
- Thank you to our amazing team of volunteers who worked in isolation or virtually by digitizing archives, assisting researchers and posting to our social media.
- Thank you to those who shared Sharon Cummins’ Throwback Thursdays on our Facebook page. Our Facebook following has grown and we are excited to be working on adding more virtual content for our members from away.
- Thank you to so many of you who contributed family artifacts, documents, diaries, photographs, videos, and artwork that added to our tremendous collection. We are humbled by your trust.
- Thank you to the members, we appreciate your ongoing support.
I entered an organization that was re-emerging from a global pandemic, going through administration changes, and splintering at the membership level because of miscommunications and misunderstandings. Despite these challenges, I remain optimistic about the future of the KHS. Our team is committed to excellence and transparency. Our aim is to grow and build and work together towards a shared vision.
The KHS Annual meeting will be announced shortly after the Board’s August meeting on the 16th. Depending on the state of the pandemic, the meeting will either be at the schoolhouse or held virtually.
It is our mission at the Kennebunkport Historical Society to preserve and protect the social, cultural, and architectural history of Kennebunkport with the goal of making it meaningful to our every day lives.
In serving that mission, we ask for your support.
Your gift can make a difference. Our plans, as we reemerge from a global pandemic and as we shift into new leadership, are grand. We are creating new programming for people of all ages and look to bring the community back together for the KHS 70th anniversary in 2022. I’d like to personally thank you for understanding that this past year has been an organizational and financial hardship for the KHS. Your gift is everything. You can make a gift on our website at https://kporths.com/gift/or mail to : Kennebunkport Historical Society, PO Box 1173, Kennebunkport, ME 04046
Mark your calendars for our August Events:
* August 11, 2021 at Townhouse School: Sounds of the 70s; an intimate concert featuring Dana Pearson and Mark Gunter. Tickets are available through our website or by calling us at 207-967-2751. CDC Guidelines will be followed. BYOB. This is a 21 and over event. Click here for tickets.
* Friday, August 20, 2021 “Tea and Tales” series, docent/actress Hannah Cartwright will portray another member of the Nott Family (TBD). This event will be at the Nott House. CDC Guidelines will be followed. Click here for tickets.
*Please note that the Children’s Day date and time has changed to Saturday, August 28, 10am -2PM at White Columns. We are seeking volunteers to help coordinate and assist during the event. If you would like to volunteer, please contact me at KHaight @KportHS.com or call the office. Click here for tickets or call us at 207-967-2751. CDC Guidelines will be followed.
Member discounts are applied at checkout (promo code sent in email)
- To renew your membership with the KHS click here
Our team is working hard to create fun programming for our members. We can’t wait to share some of our upcoming member benefits at the next Annual Meeting.
Enjoy this lovely summer weather,
Kristin Lewis Haight, M.S.
Executive Director, Kennebunk Historical Society
Continuing in Charting a Course for the Future
Kennebunkport Historical Society Selects New Executive Director
For immediate release, the Board of Directors of the Kennebunkport Historical Society have selected their new Executive Director to lead the day to day and operational activities for the society. Kristin Lewis Haight, a local Kennebunk resident, bringing 30 years professional experience, has accepted the challenge.
Haight is very familiar with Southern Maine. Originally from Massachusetts, spent her summers as child in Ogunquit, raised her children in York, and today is happy to call Kennebunk her home.
Her experience and accomplishments over the years include co-ownership of the award-winning Clay Hill Farm restaurant in Cape Neddick and more recently, founder of the Kin Konnection, a local genealogy research service. She understands the importance of community and preserving history for future generations.
She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Wellesley College, a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management and Philanthropy from Bay Path University and currently teaches technical communications at the Landing School of Boat Building & Design. Bringing a perfect balance of life experience and education that tailors perfectly to the Historical Society’s mission.
“This is the time when we need more energy and enthusiasm than ever to get us back on the right course!!” Stated Sarah Reagan Auer, KHS Board representative, “Kristin immediately stood out during the recruitment process. Her interest and experience in genealogy and her genuine love for local community and history really resonated. We were most impressed with her demeanor and communication skills given she will be the face of the society moving forward which is most important for our success.”
Haight is very excited for the challenge that lies ahead. “History is such an important part of our lives and can bring generations together. I am truly honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to lead the Kennebunkport Historical Society as Executive Director. It is exciting to think about the opportunities that lie ahead, especially as we re-emerge from a global pandemic. I look forward to collaborating with the board, volunteers, community members and staff to continue the stewardship of preserving Kennebunkport’s history and to shape that future.”
In her spare time, Kristin enjoys many activities including tennis, kayaking, yoga, reading, writing, painting, photography, visiting with friends and family, laughing and of course genealogy.
The Kennebunkport Historical Society is a non-profit member supported organization, established in 1952 with the purpose of preserving and presenting the history, art and culture of Kennebunkport.
A Letter to the Members
A Message from the Board of Directors, Kennebunkport Historical Society:
July 13, 2021
We are aware that a group of members is planning to meet tonight and wanted to provide you with updated information to alleviate any pressing concern.
The e mail sent to Membership on June 29 was intended to share our decision making process, which we took very seriously. We felt it was a sound business decision while keeping the stewardship of the Society top of mind. This includes 1) to protect and honor the mission of the Society to preserve Kennebunkport’s social, cultural, and architectural history – with the goal of making these more accessible, more relevant and more connected to our day-to-day lives; and 2) to maintain the fiscal solvency and fiscal integrity of the Society in order to preserve the history of Kennebunkport. With the sale of the Pasco Center, this would benefit both points of stewardship.
We regret and were unintentionally remiss that the selling of the Pasco Center was not fully communicated to the Kennebunkport Historical Society (KHS) Membership prior to the decision being made. Although the decision was made legally, in accordance with to the KHS by-laws, we understand that transparency is imperative to running a successful, collaborative Society. We acknowledge that we did not fully explain our business logic and financial strategy and why this decision made sense.
At this time, we have made the decision to temporarily remove the Pasco Center from the active real estate market.
We are all a part of the Society because we love Kennebunkport. We have all chosen to participate in this organization because we believe in the mission of the KHS. We all want the rich history of this community to live on. It is a great honor for the Directors of the Society to help steward the mission, and to be respected and trusted to make the best decisions possible with the past, present and future of the society in mind.
We look forward to an engaging, positive and respectful relationship with our Membership, our communities and our friends, and appreciate your support.
The Board of Directors
To the KHS Members
At the May 2021, monthly meeting of the Board of Directors of the Kennebunkport Historical Society, a motion was put forward to sell the Pasco Center, the administrative headquarters of the Historical Society. The motion to sell Pasco Center was predicated upon a year-long study and discussion by the Directors to determine whether it was in the long-range, financial best interest of the Society to own the number of buildings it currently maintains. The motion was based solidly upon unanimous agreement among the Directors that it would be in the long-range, financial best interest of the Society, especially in this challenging, post-pandemic economic era, to consolidate its real estate holdings. The motion was seconded.
Before taking a final vote, and in accordance with the Society’s by-laws, there was further discussion in which the fiscal rationale behind selling Pasco Center was summarized and reviewed. The Society owns three major buildings—Pasco Center, White Columns (aka Nott House), and Town House School. Annually, these three buildings generate significant overhead, exceeding combined revenue from the Annual Appeal, ad hoc donations, interest from the investment portfolio, and income from tours of White Columns & gift shop sales. The Pasco Center costs the Society approximately $20,000 to maintain each year. Pasco Center is also in need of approximately $100,000 worth of renovations. The Board also anticipates continued restoration of White Columns (aka Nott House), which has been in a vulnerable state of disrepair for some years. In short, Kennebunkport Historical Society cannot sustain and maintain three buildings and—at the same time—sustain through fiscally responsible management the Society’s future. A vote was taken, and it was unanimous: to sell Pasco Center.
The Board of Directors of the Society is endowed with a two-fold responsibility in their stewardship of the Society: 1) to protect and honor the mission of the Society to preserve Kennebunkport’s social, cultural, and architectural history—with the goal of making these more accessible, more relevant, and more connected to our day-to-day lives; and 2) to maintain the fiscal solvency and fiscal integrity of the Society in order to preserve the history of Kennebunkport. The first half of the Board’s two-fold responsibility, to protect and honor the mission of the Society to preserve the history of Kennebunkport, is not possible without the second half, i.e., to maintain a conscientious conservatorship of the Society’s assets. By the unanimous vote to sell Pasco Center, the Board of Directors judiciously and rationally espoused their conviction that the Society will be better equipped financially to continue its mission by divesting itself of the considerable overhead incumbent upon maintaining Pasco Center.
It was the late, nationally syndicated advice columnist Ann Landers who once wrote: “Many people think that holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. But there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go—and then to do it.” The Board’s decision to sell Pasco Center was not an easy decision but a discerningly deliberative decision for the greater good of The Kennebunkport Historical Society.
Thank you for your continuation of support to the Society,
KHS Board of Directors
Dana Dakers, President
John Zimmerman, Treasurer
Mike Burd, Secretary
Kennebunkport Historical Society awarded Employee Vibrant Community Grant from the Corning Foundation
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (April 29, 2020) – The Corning Incorporated Foundation has made an Employee Vibrant Community Grant of $1,000 to the Kennebunkport Historical Society. Arundel resident Denise Stevens, who works at Corning as a cell culture lab technician, has volunteered for the Society since 2014. Stevens applied for the one-time grant in January.
“It would be impossible for the Kennebunkport Historical Society to deliver its programs and services without the support of our loyal volunteers, members and donors,” said Executive Administrator Kirsten Camp. “This grant from the Corning Foundation has come at a particularly critical time, as the economic impacts of the pandemic are being felt across our community. We are extremely grateful that Denise applied for the Employee Vibrant Community Grant on our behalf, and to the Corning Foundation for their support.”
The Employee Vibrant Community Grants program began in 2018 as a celebration of Corning Incorporated Foundation’s 65th Anniversary. Due to its success, it became an annual program in 2019. The program encourages employees to nominate eligible non-profit organizations for a $1,000 grant, which allows the Foundation to invest in the non-profit organizations that mean the most to Corning employees. A complete list of the 2020 grant recipients is available on the Foundation’s website at www.CorningFoundation.org.
One for the history books – The Kennebunkport Historical Society is collecting Pandemic stories
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (April 14, 2020) – The Pandemic of 2020 will go down in the annuls of history as a time when people’s lives were upended and forever changed. The Kennebunkport Historical Society is creating a record of how our local communities coped with the crisis, by collecting stories of what everyday people are doing in response.
“History is more than just dates and facts,” said Kennebunkport Historical Society Executive Administrator Kirsten Camp. “What makes it fascinating are the personal stories that help to paint a picture of daily life and bring the past alive. They are a critically important part of the historical record. Years from now, when the Pandemic is a distant memory, future generations will want to understand how we lived through it.”
What are you, your family and friends doing differently during this unprecedented time? Are you making masks? Planting a vegetable garden? Taking online exercise or yoga classes? Participating in Zoom gatherings? If you are willing to share your stories with the Society, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your name, address and a telephone number should Society staff have questions. Stories will be archived and may also be published on the Society’s website and social media channels.
Virtual volunteers helping Kennebunkport Historical Society transcribe archived records during Pandemic
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (April 8, 2020) – With people sequestering at home during the Pandemic, the Kennebunkport Historical Society’s Archivist, Sharon Cummins, saw an opportunity to engage local history buffs. In March she put out a call looking for “virtual volunteers” interested in transcribing handwritten records which can be difficult to read. The response was overwhelming. Every day, Cummins emails scanned pages from notebooks in the archives to nearly 20 volunteers who are creating typewritten copies for the Society.
“Over the years handwritten information about historic buildings throughout Kennebunkport has been collected,” said Executive Administrator Kirsten Camp. “These records are used frequently by members of the Society doing research, and we have been gradually transcribing the material to make it easier to work with. Sharon had the brilliant idea to reach out and ask people with extra time on their hands during the Pandemic for help.”
“I have been amazed at how many people have raised their hands to help with this project,” added Cummins. “The work these volunteers are doing will make the information in our archives more easily accessible to researchers and homeowners interested in learning about the history of the community and their property. We can’t thank them enough!”
If you are interested in transcribing some of the Society’s records while you are sheltering in place, please contact Sharon Cummins at email@example.com.
We have begun to see cases of COVID-19 in Maine, here at the Kennebunkport Historical Society we are taking procedures to keep our employees, volunteers and visitors safe. While our office at 125 North Street will remain open at present, we are asking anyone not feeling well to stay home for the safety of others. We can easily be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone 207-967- 2751. In the event the office is closed we will be working remotely and will return any message in a timely manner.In the meantime, we will be following the CDC guidelines and thoroughly wiping down frequently touched areas.
Kennebunkport Historical Society and Local Musicians to Offer Acoustic Concert Series at Town House School
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (March 2, 2020) – The Kennebunkport Historical Society, in partnership with locally renowned musicians Monica Grabin and Dana Pearson, is presenting an acoustic concert series this year called Mid-Week Music. Singers Grabin and Pearson will perform multiple music genres playing guitar, banjo, piano, bass, autoharp, harmonica and ukulele, though not all at the same time!
Concerts will be held in the Society’s Town House School located at 135 North Street in Kennebunkport on the third Wednesday of every month at 7:00 p.m. from May through December. Tickets are $15 at the door.
“We’re so excited to be able to host Mid-Week Music at the Town House School,” said the Historical Society’s Executive Administrator Kirsten Camp. “It’s a perfect venue for concerts. The acoustics in the School really lend themselves well to the kind of music that Monica and Dana perform.”
“We have planned an eclectic mix of themed concerts to appeal to a broad range of musical tastes, including folk, country, the Beatles and Elvis, so there is something for everyone,” added Pearson. “We are kicking off the series with music by Bob Dylan on Wednesday, May 20. We look forward to performing in such a unique venue.”
The full concert schedule includes:
May 20 – Nothin’ But Bob (Dylan)
June 17 – Country Music
July 15 – The Beatles
August 19 – Girl Groups!
September 16 – Originals (with Mark Gunter)
October 21 – Elvis! (with Mark Gunter and Jim O’Neil)
November 18 – Grab Bag (whatever they feel like playing)
December 16 – A Very Dana & Monica Christmas
Monica Grabin and Dana Pearson, both of Kennebunk, met nearly 30 years ago when Grabin and her husband Bill were hosting the Kennebunkport Folk Club song swap. After playing informally and recording together for several years, they began performing publicly in 2013 as First Person Plural. After a string of appearances at Elements: Books Coffee Beer in Biddeford, they put on a series of concerts at the Unitarian Church in Kennebunk and the Wells Branch Community Hall in Wells.
Local musicians Monica Grabin and Dana Pearson will be performing an eclectic mix of acoustic concerts at the Kennebunkport Historical Society’s Town House School the third Wednesday of every month from May through December.
International Recording Artist Jane Morgan Weintraub Makes Surprise Appearance at Kennebunkport Historical Society Lecture
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (September 11, 2019) – The audience gathered for a Kennebunkport Historical Society (KHS) lecture by Board member Albert Black about The Kennebunkport Playhouse on September 3 was pleasantly surprised by a special guest appearance from international recording artist, actress and KHS member Jane Morgan Weintraub. Mrs. Weintraub’s brother, Robert Currier, founded The Kennebunkport Playhouse to bring summer theater and entertainment to the community. The Playhouse was located on River Road across from the Cape Arundel Golf Course before it burned to the ground the evening of October 29, 1971. The cause of the fire was determined to be arson.
“The Society was deeply honored to have Mrs. Weintraub in attendance,” said KHS Executive Administrator Kirsten Camp. “The Kennebunkport Playhouse lecture was part of our series A Walk Through History, and nothing brings history alive for people more than firsthand accounts about places and events. Mrs. Weintraub graciously shared memories of her brother Bob and the annual performances she gave each summer at the Playhouse. It was a real treat for the audience.”
Legendary stars like Joan Fontaine, Myrna Loy, Diana Barrymore, Russell Nype, and Van Johnson thrilled local audiences with their Playhouse performances through the years. Mrs. Weintraub was a regular, wowing theater goers each summer with her one-woman show, dancing and singing her popular hits like Fascination, which was released in 1957 and remained on the charts for 29 weeks. Her career spanned six decades and included live performances, radio, TV and appearances on Broadway. Weintraub received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2011.
Diane Lent will present the next lecture, Haunted Kennebunkport, in the Society’s A Walk Through History series on October 1 at the Town House School located at 135 North Street. The lectures are free and open to the public.
Kennebunkport Historical Society Hosts National Archivist David S. Ferriero
KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine (September 4, 2019) – On August 29 the Kennebunkport Historical Society (KHS) welcomed David S. Ferriero, archivist for the National Archives and Records Administration, to discuss a four-phase project it has undertaken with the Maine Historical Society (MHS) to digitize the KHS’s extensive collections. Ferriero, who is also a member of the Society, met with Executive Administrator Kirsten Camp, KHS Board member John Zimmermann, and Henry Caiazzo, an archivist with the MHS.
“It was an honor to spend the afternoon with Mr. Ferriero,” said Camp. “It’s natural to think of the Society’s collections as having a mostly local audience. But he encouraged us to think globally. With so much information available through the internet, people around the world are only a click away from discovering and enjoying Kennebunkport’s rich maritime history. I am so grateful for his insight and encouragement as we prepare for the Society’s future.”
The digitization project will help protect and preserve the KHS collections for future generations and improve remote access to them through the Society’s website. Mr. Ferriero discussed the importance of the project and the digitation process that the National Archives has undertaken.
“I’m pleased that I finally got a chance to visit,” noted Ferriero. “The Kennebunkport Historical Society has great collections that need to be made discoverable. I’m happy to see their commitment to making that happen.”
Mr. Ferriero was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed as 10th archivist of the United States on November 6, 2009. He is the first librarian to serve in this position. Prior to joining the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Mr. Ferriero served as the Andrew W. Mellon director of the New York Public Libraries (NYPL). He has also held top positions at two of the nation’s major academic libraries, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Ferriero earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English literature from Northeastern University in Boston and a master’s degree from the Simmons College of Library and Information Science, also in Boston. He served as a Navy hospital corpsman during the Vietnam War.
During his visit, Mr. Ferriero invited Ms. Camp and Mr. Caiazzo to Washington, D.C. to tour the NARA, meet with other archivists there, and learn more about the NARA’s effort to preserve and protect our national archives.
About the National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation’s record keeper. Of all documents and materials created in the course of business conducted by the United States Federal government, only one to three percent are so important for legal or historical reasons that they are kept by the NARA forever. For more information about the NARA visit https://www.archives.gov/about.
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