Davistown Museum Open House 2003
by John and Beth Sundberg
reprinted with permission from the Muzzleloading and Traditional Living Magazine
Winter 2004, 8(3), pg. 14-16.

During the third Saturday of July the Davistown Museum held its third annual open house. For those of you not familiar with this museum, it is an extension of the Liberty Tool Company, in Liberty, Maine, about 30 miles outside of Augusta just off Route 3 headed towards Belfast. Skip Brack has been scouring central and northern New England for decades buying old tools for his private collection but also as a business, primarily selling antique tools. Many of us are very familiar with his store in Liberty and the other two, Captain Tinkham's Emporium in Searsport and The Hulls Cove Tool Barn in Bar Harbor.

Over the years he has saved the best tools, especially those made by Maine craftsmen. His long-term dream has finally come to reality in the formation of the Davistown Museum. The museum is an eclectic collection of old tools in very good condition, a variety of art, and a collection of Native American artifacts. Most are on display where the visitor is encouraged to handle them. Rare and exotic tools are housed in glass cases. A children's area keeps the young ones interested while a library is a wonderful resource for those looking for hard to find books on traditional crafts and specialty tools. Internships are available for those interested in researching the tools and using the library.

Michael Beaudry demonstrating log hewing with a broad ax. Mike has built several buildings using only hand tools such as these.
Jack Harrill and John Sundberg demonstrated basic blacksmithing or how not to use a hand drill press. Plenty of advice was provided by David Corrigan on the sidelines.

To promote the Museum, an annual open house is held each summer. This past summer several craftsmen, both local and from throughout Maine volunteered their time to demonstrate their skills. Michael Beaudry, author of the recently reviewed book The Axe Wielder's Handbook (Horizon Publishers, 2002), a local fellow, demonstrated hewing logs to make beams for log or post and beam houses. Here he is shown using a broad ax to square a log held in place with an iron barn dog. Several blacksmiths (and apprentices) from around the state set up an outdoor smithy under the old oak tree behind the museum. Jack Harrill of Bingham and John Sundberg of Southwest Harbor made tools and pieces to order for the visitors. Other members of the Ancient Ones showed up in historical outfits to lend a hand and add to the festivities.

Paul Carlson, a blacksmith from north of Bangor, provides unwanted words of advice to Jack Harrill.

Paul Carlson getting some unwanted advice from David Corrigan!  What goes around comes around.

The Ancient Ones organized the blacksmith demonstration and will participate next July as well. Plans are currently underway to hold the open house again on the fourth Saturday of July 2004 (24 July this coming summer). These and many other demonstrations will be on hand. Local groups will serve food. If you get bored with the activities and have seen everything in the Museum you can always go across the street shopping in the Liberty Tool Store. As one of my friends from away stated, it was a museum of human ingenuity. This describes both the Davistown Museum and Liberty Tool Company. Come join in the fun and excitement this coming summer.

Jack Harrill making a pair of tongs for a visitor to use for removing pottery from her kiln.

Poster painting was enjoyed by the kids visiting the museum open house.

Inside the museum is an area with the kids in mind. Get them interested now in tools so they take care of yours when they get older!

The Davistown Museum is a nonprofit organization and donations are welcomed to help support the museum and these activities. The museum is open weekends from 10:30 to 4:30, Thursday and Friday during the summer season, and by appointment (call Skip Brack at 207-288-5126). Visit the Museum website at www.davistownmuseum.org for more information and directions.

The Davistown Museum is on the third floor of the building across the street from the Liberty Tool Company in Liberty, Maine. Currently there is no elevator so be prepared to walk up a few stairs.

John and Beth Sundberg are members of the Ancient Ones and are on the board of directors for the Davistown Museum. They can be reached by email (please request contact information from The Davistown Museum) for more information on the activities this summer at the Museum.

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