Saturday, May 17, 2014

Readfield History Walk #19 ~ June 6, 2014 ~ Martha Washington Inn and the early history of Lot #68

When James Craig came to Readfield in 1765 he ran a cable
ferry across Lake Maranacook.
Captain William Armstrong's homestead as it looked in 1947.
This became part of the Martha Washington Inn in the 1920s.
The last Readfield History Walk of the spring season will take place on Friday, June 6th. Walkers should meet at the Dead Stream boat landing / parking lot on route 41 no later than 10am. From there participants will car pool to the starting location for an exploration of Armstrong Cemetery and part of lot #68 where James Craig settled and began a ferry service on Lake Maranacook in 1768. Craig sold the southern part of lot to Capt. William Armstrong, whose home still stands and later became part of Martha Washington Inn. James Craig moved on to build the first sawmill and grist mill in Readfield at what became known as Craig's Mills. We explored that area on History Walk # 13

To see some pictures of the Martha Washington Inn during its heyday see the album in the right column. Click on whatever picture is showing at the time and you will be directed to Picasa where you can view an enlarged version
As the number of guests grew and the owners could not
accommodate all of them, they built this hotel. This was
torn down around 1992. The Armstrong house remains.
of the entire album, with captions. Pictures compliments of Readfield Historical Society.

Readfield History Walks are held several times in the spring and fall and will resume in September 2014.

To learn more about many of Readfield’s pioneers visit

To answer some questions that arose from the history walk on 6/6/2014:

  • In 1924 George and Carolyn Nobis bought the Capt. William Armstrong homestead which had been in the Armstrong family since about 1770. The acquisition included the Armstrong home, 100 acres, and shoreline on the west side of Maranacook Lake.
  • The Nobis’ started taking in paying guests at the house but business grew exponentially so in 1929 they took out a $15,000 mortgage with Augusta Trust Company (later became Depositors Trust then Key Bank) to build a hotel adjacent to the house. In 1930 they took out a second mortgage for $3,000 to finish the job. There was a portable sawmill set up by Bill Wyman (of East Readfield) across the road where newly cut trees were sawed into lumber, then brought across the road to construct the building (per Larry Rolfe oral history audio taped by Dale Potter Clark in 7/1986).
  • The Nobis’ also built a "boathouse" on the shore. The name and location at the water’s edge implies that building was first used to house their boats. Later, by the time the Poulins bought it, the building had been converted to a gathering place for people to enjoy water recreation, and inside was a pool table and pin ball machines (per Jean Poulin Pratt). The boathouse location is also where guests could arrive by boat from the train station in Winthrop in the earliest days of operation. Later, MWI had a station wagon they used to transport folks from local train stations (I have posted a picture of that in the album on the history walks web site).
  • Louis and Pauline Prolman were the last to own and operate MWI during its heyday (1947-1967). When they sold to Gerard Poulin 4/1967 (Book 1440 Page 769-770 Kennebec Registry) the sale included two parcels - one was 40 acres with the buildings and all contents i.e. furniture, dishes etc. - the southern part of lot #68 which bordered on Lake Maranacook - # of feet not stated. The second parcel bordered north of that and included another 650 feet on Lake Maranacook, as stated in the deed.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Readfield History Walk #18 ~ Prince Luce homestead ~ May 16, 2014

Floyd Luce collecting sap in the Luce woods.
      He was born in 1899, a great-grandson Prince Luce. 
On Friday, May 16th Dr. Ronda Luce, a direct descendant of the early Readfield settler Prince Luce, will host and guide the Readfield History Walkers on a trek through her 3rd great-grandfather’s woods.  More than 200 years ago Prince Luce homesteaded a large plot of land east of Readfield Depot and two of his brothers settled nearby. His father, Beriah, and another brother settled across town**. The land where Prince Luce settled has been occupied by seven consecutive generations of this branch of the family.

Prince Luce’s original farmhouse burned around 1932 so members of the Edgar Luce family, who were living there at the time, were forced to move off the land. Years later a new house was built near the same spot by Edgar's nephew and his wife, Rex and Audrey Luce, and the property became inhabited by Prince Luce’s descendants again. Coincidentally, this year’s Readfield Town Report is dedicated to the memory of Rex and Audrey Luce.

Included on the tour will be the opportunity to view mysterious manmade rock engravings and formations discovered in the Luce woods. Pictures of the farmhouse and homestead as it once looked will be shared.

Participants should bring lunch as they will stop to eat somewhere on the excursion. Sturdy shoes and walking sticks are suggested. Meet promptly at 10:00 a.m. in the parking lot across from Readfield Historical Society on route 17 at Readfield Depot. Walkers will car pool from there to the Luce property on Luce Road.  FMI email Dale Potter-Clark at No fee or registration. Donations to Readfield Historical Society are appreciated.

** See History Walk #14 Luce Memorial Forest

Friday, May 2, 2014

Three upcoming historical presentations at the Senior Cafe

Dale Potter-Clark will present three times, in April and May, to the 55+ age group residents at the Senior Café. These gatherings are held at the Maranacook Middle School cafeteria in Readfield - at Maranacook Community School. Starting at 9:00am muffins and beverage are served. The program is held 9:30-11:00am. All are welcome regardless of where they live! No fee or registration.

Monday, April 14th 9:30-11:00am
“Living, Working and Socializing in 19th Century Readfield”
19th century Readfield had four distinct centers that included industries, churches, schools, hotels and farms; after 1850 lakeside resorts and camps began to emerge. Readfield is known as the home of four Maine governors but there is much more to tell. Participants will learn about the climate in 19th century Readfield and the lifestyles of her people 1850-1900.

Monday, May 5th 9:30-11:00am
"Fifty old Readfield homes and the people who lived in them"
As you drive through Readfield have you wondered about the history of some of our old homes? If so, this is the class for you! In this presentation you will learn something about fifty of our 18th and 19th century homes and some of the people who have lived in or built them. 

Monday, May 19th 9:30-11:00am
"When We Were Young"

On May 19th the Readfield Elementary School 3rd graders will be guests at Senior Café. Through the eyes of senior citizens there, the students will learn about what it was like when their grandparents and great-grandparents were their age.  Starting at 10am a 10-15 minute slide show demonstrating life in our area during the post WWII years. Then students will be given the opportunity to ask questions of the seniors, about their childhoods and the world as they remember it. Anyone from Readfield and surrounding towns, who are 55+, are welcome to attend. Starting at 9am coffee, muffins and visiting. The students will arrive at 10am.


Senior Café meets every Monday morning (when school is in session) at the

Maranacook Middle School cafeteria.

Dates set for Readfield History Walks ~ Spring 2014

Dates are set for three spring History Walks so mark your calendars and spit shine your walking shoes. All History Walks will take place on Fridays. As always we will meet at 10am. Announcements will be made later with additional information so stay tuned.

May 2th ~ 10:00am
The old Corn Shop and surrounding area which encompasses Millett Manor, the Weathervane, the Gilman farm, Readfield beach, Camp KV for Kids and more. 

May 16th ~ 10:00am
The Prince Luce homestead and woods hosted by Ronda Luce. In addition to seeing the area where Prince Luce settled circa 1780 we will view unusual and mysterious manmade engravings and formations. Old pictures of the homestead and property will be shared.

June 6th ~ 10:00am
The area around the old Martha Washington Inn on Lake Maranacook, and the ancient Armstrong Cemetery. Many pictures of the Inn as it looked during its heyday will be shared. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Update for History Walk #17 Friday, May 2nd

Some are wondering about whether or not we will history walk tomorrow (due to possible rain). The weather report says mostly sunny with 20% chance of rain so I say LETS DO IT J

We will begin at 10am to see the site of the old Corn Shop, then make our way east. Meet at the home of Ed and Sylvia Dodge on Main Street about 1/2 mile east of the intersection at Readfield Corner. Park in the Dodge's driveway or at the Weathervane Restaurant slightly east of the Dodge home and walk to their house.

Although the Weathervane does not open until 4pm this time of year, they will open special for the History Walkers tomorrow at 11:30am, and we will eat our lunch there. Those who wish to bring their own sandwiches are welcome to do so and to eat inside. History Walkers also have the option to order something there for lunch and / or beverages if they wish to. If it is a nice enough day the Weathervane deck (overlooking the beach) will be open for us.

A BIG Thank you to owners Gloria and Jeff of the Weathervane for accommodating us!

History Walk #17 ~ Corn Shop to Camp KV and all in Between ~ Friday, May 2, 2014

The Corn Shop in Readfield was located about 1/2 mile east of the Readfield Corner intersection and built by Jasper and Edgar Wyman of Washington County (today known as Wyman's of Maine and famous for their blueberries). In the background here is Millett Manor (MM). Tamson and Ed Nelson built MM as a summer tourist hotel about 1903 and called it "Tamsonhurst". History Walkers will learn about these two businesses and much more on this excursion!
Friday, May 2nd 10:00am ~ 2:00pm

This history walk will cover where the old corn shop was (about 1/2 mile east of Readfield Corner) and will also include the area from there east all the way to Camp KV. So, this will encompass Millett Manor, Gilman farm, the Weathervane, the Readfield Recreation Association (founders of the town beach), Camp KV for Kids. Also included will be information about the houses and other properties that fall within that area (on Main Street).

Bring a sandwich and a drink as we will stop to eat lunch somewhere on the walk. Wear sturdy walking shoes and walking sticks are suggested. FMI about where to meet please email

Among the sites visited on this history walk was Camp KV for Kids.
This location was originally part of Joshua Bean’s holdings along with all the other land included on this history walk. This was a second parcel included with the property purchased by Lewis and Anne Millett in 1948. They donated the land to the Kennebec Valley Council of Girl Scouts in 1949 and it served as a day camp for the Girl Scouts until the 1970’s, when the Council had to close the camp and it went to public auction. According to Robert Mohlar, who was a member of the newly formed Readfield Conservation Commission at that time, the group recognized that developers would no doubt buy and sub-divide this 59 acre parcel, so they went to work immediately to raise community awareness in hopes the camp could be preserved for public use and continue as a summer camp for children. Donald Laubenstein and Jack Smart of Readfield, and several other business people from the Augusta area, led the charge and formed the Camp KA VE Committee. They managed to place the winning bid and signed the newly organized Camp KV for Kids over to the Kennebec Valley YMCA in March, 1975. The deed includes the restriction that the property “not be used for any purpose other than for the benefit of youth of the area. By 1995 it was fully endowed. Today it is still in use as a day camp by the Kennebec Valley YMCA. FMI about 2014 summer programs:

Permission to use and share this information, about the history of Camp KV for Kids, is hereby granted to Kennebec Valley YMCA, Camp KV for Kids, with the understanding that credit be given to Dale Potter-Clark as researcher and writer. May 10, 2014