Thursday, August 23, 2018

Saturday, September 29, 2018, 10 AM-3PM, Harvest Festival at Fields Pond, Orrington

Saturday, September 29, 2018, 10 AM-3PM,  Harvest Festival at Fields Pond, Orrington

  •  antique tractors and cars
  • tractor pulled hay rides
  • jitterbug/doodlebug collection
  • jitterbug/doodlebug competition pull with Maine Antique Tractor Association 
  • pumpkin painting
  • Freshly Cut Grass Bluegrass Music
  • Participatory Apple Cider Making
  • Woodworking Activity For the Family: Make a Coat Rack with Handmade Wooden Pegs
  • Homemade Halloween Costume Contest---Prizes
  • Pickling on the Porch ( Make a Mason Jar of Pickles, sauerkraut, or Korean kimchi ---$12)
  • Old Country Fair Games for Kids
  • Food in the Farmhouse Kitchen For Sale: Corn Chowder, Irish Stew (with lamb) and Biscuits
  • Admissions: $12 Adults, Children (Under 18): Free

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Starting Tuesday, September 18, 6-9PM, Six Weeks of Beginning Blacksmithing Classes, Tuesdays and Thursday Evenings,

Starting Tuesday, September 18, 6-9PM, Six Weeks of Beginning Blacksmithing Classes, Tuesdays and Thursday Evenings, at 19th Century Curran Homestead Village, 372 Fields Pond Rd., Orrington, ME 04474. This beginner’s class covers all the basics of coal fired forging including safety, tools, materials, heating, cutting, bending, drifting, and forming steel objects. Start off with a small project and build on  knowledge projects that include tools for further work. Projects include hooks, a nail, spoon, fire poker with birdcage handle and more... Learn tempering and forge welding. Time permitting; students may forge a knife blade, if desired. This class includes Saturday morning studio for additional practice by arrangement. Cost: $395, tools and materials provided. Students required to supply their own 2lb. or more hammer. Registration is required and is first come, first serve by cash, check payable to "The Curran Homestead" or credit card (MasterCard & Visa only). Call: Robert Schmick, Museum Director at (207) 205-4849, email:, or Irv Marsters, 745-4426, email:

These are the projects from a class in January of 2017.

Sat. & Sun., September 22 & 23, 9AM-4PM, Knife Making Class at Newfield

Saturday & Sunday, September 22 & 23, 9AM-4PM, Knife Making Class at Newfield

Knife Making Class at Curran Homestead Village at Newfield, 70 Elm St., Newfield, ME.  Instructor Frank Vivier assists you making your first knife and starting on the road to mastering this satisfying craft in a weekend. This is both an opportunity for beginners and intermediate level knife makers. Using propane fired forges, cut and shape a blade and tang from spring steel. Use a combination of hand files, grinders, and belt sanders. Quench harden using a coal fired forge and oven temper knives. Create hardwood handle scales with brass rivets. Epoxy and finish sand to satisfaction walking away with a nearly completed knife. Materials and tools provided. Tuition: $225. Pay to register, Discount for returning students. First come, first serve. Limited to 5. Call: (207) 205-4849, Visit:

This class has been given since 2013 at the Newfield museum and has evolved:

Formerly Willowbrook Museum's "Horse-stock Building", this smithy was used largely for a static exhibit. The horse-stock was removed crating a large space for other anvils and propane fired forges. This building is the site of our current knife making classes, although we have had smaller classes held in the Tom Flagg Smithy depicted below.

This smithy was actually moved from a farm in Lincolnville, Maine. It was constructed by 17 year old Tom Flagg in 1935. Flagg inherited many tools from previous generations as well as well as acquired many of his home. The collection of tools includes many hand-forged hammers, drifts, cuts, and tongs either made by Flagg or previous generations of his family. The anvil stand is Tom Flagg's own with am Fisher anvil donated by Paul Baresel of Buxton, ME. The smithy now contains a forge that tom Flagg made himself that uses a Champion forge blower. The second forge in the smithy came for the Estate of Lawrence Cook in Meriden, CT. Cook was a machinist who created Civil war artillery pieces sometimes from scratch as well as muzzle loaders and re-enacting accessories. The museum received many pieces of equipment from Cook's machine shop including pieces from the 1880s including drill presses, a horizontal milling machine, and an American Sawmill Co. band saw. In addition to the large Buffalo forge in the smithy there is a wall mounted drill press 


Saturday, September 22, 4:30-7PM, Painted Pony Party Fundraising Dinner with Bluegrass

Make Your Reservation Now for 19th Century Curran Homestead Village at Newfield’s September 22, 4:30-7PM, Painted Pony Fundraising Dinner with Freshly Cut Grass Bluegrass Band. Curran Homestead Village (formerly Willowbrook Museum ), 70 Elm Street, Newfield, ME. Dine at this museum’s rustic restaurant with live music, Maine’s own Freshly Cut Grass. One seating only at 4:30, dinner served at 5. The menu includes Mary’s own encrusted chicken cordon blue, glazed baby carrots, ribbons of zucchini, rolls with butter, scalloped potatoes, green salad, cranberry compote, corn chowder and apple crisp a la mode. Meal includes a pint of local Gneiss beer or glass of wine, or other beverage. Additional beer and wine for purchase, $5, $3. Reserve a free ride at 3 or 4PM on the horse carousel with your 4:30PM dinner reservation.  This is a fundraiser supporting our annual school field trip programming with more than 1600 from the Southern and Central Maine and New Hampshire area in May and June, 2018 and more to come this fall; help keep a 49 year tradition for area kids going. Single: $30, Couples $55. Call as soon as you can for your reservation: (207) 205-4849 or (207) 745-4426. We're a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit museum.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Feb. 24 & 25: Letterpress Printing Class with Mark Matteau

Sample Book page
Anastasia Weigle''s printing project included stationary for an imaginary character.
Dr. Cycloid stationary
Dr. Cycloid stationary, 2
Anastasia Weigle searches for type.
Composing type.
Tess Hall rubs the Golding Pearl printing press.
Tess Hall does a run on the Golding Pearl letterpress.
Patricia Turner of Porter, ME and Karen Marsters of Bangor work at typesetting.



Knife Making Classes at Newfield, February 4 & 5/February 24 & 25, 2018

Feb. 24 & 25: Student Lunch
Feb. 3 & 4  Class: After the Quench
Eric Thoresen works on his hardwood handle.
Heating for the Quench; Frank Vivier watches over a student's knife.
Nick Armentrout of Lyman's knife in progress.
A little side lesson in forge welding on our coal fired forge.
Feb. 3 & 4 Knife Making Class. From left: Matt Day, Chad Nehrt, Eric Thoresen, Frank Vivier (instructor), Syndre Edwards, Heidi Edwards, Harold Gillman & Nick Armentrout
Chad Nehrt orf South Portland works at the belt sander on his newly forged knife.
February 3 & 4 Class, Student Knives
February 3 & 4 Class: Student Knives
February 24 & 25: File Work
Harold Gillman works on his first knife on day two after forging it on day one of the class.
Heidi Edwards took this knife making class with her seventeen year old daughter.
Frank Vivier instructor waits with student Eric Thoresen's blade to heat up for the quench. We use Wesson oil.



Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Iceman Cometh: Ice Harvesting on Fields Pond

On Sunday, January 28, 2018, 10AM-3PM, Curran Homestead Village at Fields Pond, 372 Fields Pond Rd., Orrington will have its Family Ice Harvest on Fields Pond. Brewer Historical Society will be sharing some local ice harvesting history at this event in the Curran farmhouse as well. Those who wish to help in the event’s preparation should be at the Curran Village on Saturday, 10AM-1PM. The event has been an annual opportunity for individuals and families to step back in time and experience first-hand participation in the seasonal practice of taking in a “crop” of ice with authentic ice harvesting tools for the last eight winters. This free, public event will also include rides on an authentic bob sleigh drawn by John Boyce of Lee, Maine’s team of Belgian draft horses, Amos and Andy ($5 per ride). We will have our first souvenir ice delivery card available solely to volunteers and participants out on the ice; the ice delivery card of the past hung in a window of your home in the age of ice delivery to indicate to the delivery man how much ice you wanted carried into your home for the family ice box. This is suitable for framing as it was printed by our letterpress printing instructor Mark Matteau of Dunstan Press, Scarborough, for our February 24-25 offering of a letterpress printing class at our Newfield campus.

New this year will be a demonstration of a horse team hooked up to an ice groove that will cut a grid into the surface of the ice as was done in the past. There will be blacksmithing at the smithy and chili and corn chowder cooking on the wood stove in the farmhouse for purchase. Bring your snowshoes, if you like, as there is plenty of wide open space and woods to roam. For more information, call (207) 205-4849 or (207) 745-4426, or visit our website: or our Facebook page.

Much of traditional ice harvesting was done with hand tools but horses were fitted with horseshoe calks to allow them to grip the ice surface for travel. Horses removed snow from the ice surface with a pulled scraper. They also pulled an ice groove (Looks like a multi-blade plow). The ice groove cut into the ice to the depth of seven-inch. Ice workers would subsequently saw by hand the remainder of the ice depth, which might be as much as 15-20 or more inches depending on how cold it had been. There could be two or three harvests in a winter. Horses were sometimes fitted with a knotted harness around their necks which would be pulled by the handler temporarily cutting off air to the horse’s lungs and preventing water from entering if they fell through the ice. This prevented the horse from drowning until it could be pulled from the freezing water; sometimes horses did drown.

Both the small farmer and commercial concerns like the Hanscoms of Orrington and Getchells of Brewer, the latter still produces and retails artificial ice, had crews on both fresh water lakes, ponds and rivers. The Penobscot and the Kennebec were two of the leading sources of natural ice in the northeast in addition to New York’s Hudson River. Ice harvesting was among the top five industries in Maine at one time. The Hanscoms continued to take in crops of ice from Fields Pond until the 1940s. Clarence Dyer of Brewer remembers harvesting ice for the Hanscoms on Fields Pond during the winter of 1941-1942. When Dyer returned from his service in the South Pacific the Hanscom’s were no longer cutting ice from the pond and taking it by horse team up Wiswell Road to an ice house storage building at the top of Copeland Hill in Orrington. The Currans also took in crops of ice for their dairy as they sold butter and other products requiring refrigeration. "We hope to one day restore the ice house building on the Curran property so that we might store the ice we take in each year. We do have an ice box in the Curran farmhouse kitchen that we fill with an ice cake as the climax to this annual event. Our goal is to have the ability to use that ice box year-round using our harvested ice as a teaching tool, and dreams like this could become a reality with sponsorship," said Robert Schmick, Curran's museum director.

Curran received a 2017 Narragansett Number One Foundation grant to build an ice house at its Newfield campus as it has an ice harvest on the Mill Pond there a week after this Fields Pond event. The ice house will be constructed this winter, and it will serve as  storage for  the ice harvested this year for year-round hands on learning experiences especially for young visitors. Bill Wilkins of Charleston, a Curran board member, donated an antique, insulated ice house door recently, and Fred Kircheis of Carmel donated a dozen cork panels from a former ice house from Bucksport for its construction.

Each year the Curran cuts a hole into Fields Pond not far from the water’s edge. Although it usually does this harvest at the end of January or the beginning of February the ice conditions are unpredictable. There were years with good crops and bad crops both past and present. Some years there are 20 inches of clear ice while others, including last year, have variations in the quality of the cakes cut. There were layers of cloudy ice and clear ice reflecting thaws, cold spells, and snowfall. Commercial ice harvesters didn’t wait until the day before the harvest to clear snow from their harvest site; they would keep it clear throughout the winter to improve the quality of the ice; snow insolates the ice surface making for a poorer quality crop. Removing the snow makes for better freezing conditions.

Once a hole is cut into the ice surface at a juncture in the grid that was cut with an ice groove, an ice saw was inserted, and the harvester would saw away from the hole following the straight lines of the grid. Three sides of each square cake were sawn, and the fourth side would be broken off with a tool called a breaker bar. The cake would now bob in the frozen water and be steered with an ice pike to a point where it could be lifted and dragged onto the ice surface where a ramp was extended to a sled or wagon, or, in later years, even a Model T truck, as we have a photo of one being loaded up on Fields Pond in the 1930s. A wooden tripod with a block and tackle hanging from it were often used by the small farmer to take the ice from the pond and get it onto a wagon or sleigh. In contrast, large commercial operations might bring the ice though cut channels of open water to a conveyor system at the water’s edge that carried it into a huge ice house like those found on the Brewer and Bangor sides of the Penobscot at one time.

These ice houses were of enormous dimensions. An ice house that existed in Utica, New York covered many acres and was of such height that clouds formed within it from the evaporating ice cakes; it would rain occasionally within its confines. At the Curran Homestead Village, some of the harvested ice will be loaded onto a primitive log scoot pulled by a vintage John Deere tractor fitted with an example of aftermarket post-World War II caterpillar tracks. The tracks and the homemade scoot were once used both in the winter and warm weather by the late Tom Flagg of Lincolnville to pull pulp logs out of the woods. Some of our crop will be pulled up the hill to the Curran farmhouse and used for the ice box. See you there! Curran Homestead Village is 501c3 nonprofit museum serving communities in Maine and beyond.