The trustees of the St. George Historical Society look forward to a “soft opening” of its new headquarters on Saturday, November 30th. Please come visit us from 10am to 4pm and see what we have done and what we plan on doing at 38 Main Street.
With this property, the Historical Society has four locations from which to promote and preserve the history of this fantastic town. The Andrew Robinson Homestead at Wiley’s Corner focuses on the village of Wiley’s Corner, the Robinson family of St. George, the history of farming in St. George and the Fort Point State Park. Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum in Port Clyde focuses on lighthouses, maritime history of the town, and the village of Port Clyde. The Schoolhouse Museum next to the Town Office focuses on the schoolhouses and education of St. George students. The property at 38 Main Street, that will be known as The Old Library Museum, will include a reference library, a home office for the Society, storage area for some of its collection, plus lots of display areas that we plan to rotate on a regular basis. The reference library includes books on local, regional and state history, plus books on local, regional, state and New England maritime history. It will also include books on local and regional genealogy to assist people in tracing their family trees. There has also been mention of a section of the library dedicated to local cookbooks.
The Old Library Museum will also have permanent displays for Lillius Gilchrest Grace and Mary Elinor Jackson. Lillius Gilchrest Grace was born in St. George, the daughter of a sea captain. She traveled the world and had a very interesting life, but never forgot her friends and family in St. George. Mary Elinor Jackson was also the daughter of a sea captain. She was very interested in education, promoting reading and learning for the people of St. George.
Mary Elinor Jackson saw the Age of Sail at its peak, as well as watched its decline. Her family’s fortune was soon depleted as times changed and railways replaced sailing ships. Miss Jackson and her brother lived in a house down behind what is now Tenants Harbor General Store. Upon her death in 1933, the house and small piece of land upon which it sat was left to her niece and nephew, who sold it to Mary Elinor’s friend Nellie MacKenzie. As a tribute to Miss Jackson, Nellie MacKenzie, Eleanor Aldrich and others worked to get the house moved to Main Street, where the four Long sisters donated a piece of property at the corner of Main Street and Water Street, and a lending library in memory of Mary Elinor Jackson was created in 1935.
Nearing its 50th anniversary the Jackson Memorial Library (JML) was in need of more room to meet the needs of a modern day library. In the later part of 1987 the library saw an addition, known as the Annex, added to the original structure. However, a fire in January 1988 caused extensive damage, but through a great amount of community support the necessary repairs were made and by the summer of 1988 the JML was reopened.
As the JML approached its 75th anniversary, the character of public libraries had evolved and were more than just a lending library—more room was needed. A building committee was formed and plans were developed to build a new library across the street at the corner of Main Street and Juniper Street. As the building plans were being finalized in 2012, the Lillius Gilchrest Grace Institute (that had built a youth center next to the St. George School) decided to make a gift of its building and property to the JML for its new location. Shortly thereafter the move was made.
With 38 Main Street being vacant, the Select Board decided to lease the property to Anne Klapfish for her retail shop known as Stonefish. With her untimely death in the summer of 2019, the building was once again going to be vacant. While the Select Board were considering their options of what to do with the property, the trustees of the St. George Historical Society approached the Board with a proposal to lease it, and they agreed.
—John Falla (Falla is president of the St. George Historical Society.)