New Year’s Resolutions – Archivally Inspired!

New Year’s Resolution to lose weight.

Whether or not you’re committing to New Year’s Resolutions (or Intentions) this year, here are some great photos from our Community Archives Room that might help inspire us all to stick to our ideals in 2017….

Lose Weight
Gardiner’s 1911 Police Force collectively weighed 2,800 pounds, winning a nationwide contest!
Save Money
Now Camden Savings Bank, Gardiner Savings Institution built their ultra-modern facility in the 1950s.

 

Eat Healthier
MacDonald’s Bakery opened in 1921 and operated for over 70 years where the Craft Beer Cellar is now.

 

Spend More Time Outdoors
Shown here in the 1920s, Spring Cove on the Brunswick Road was a summer hot spot for decades.
Read More
1947 Summer Reading participants at the Gardiner Public Library in what was then the Children’s Room and is now the Hazzard Reading Room.

 

Cut Down on Sweets
In 1923, Condos Candy Shop sold sweets where the Village Jeweler is now.

 

Carpool If You Can
This photo was taken in September 1940, just before the Sawyer Grain building (now Gardiner Feed) was built.

 

Get More Sleep
A young Gardiner man resting in his Bates College dormitory, c.1914.

 

Take a Class
The Kennebec School of Commerce operated in the upper floors of the bank building on the corner of Water and Church Streets from the mid-1930s through the 1940s and drew students from across the state.

 

Adopt a Pet
This 1920s cutie has ties to a Gardiner family and features prominently (along with many other dear pets) in their treasured scrapbook, which now lives in the Community Archives Room.
Make the Most of Less Than Perfect Situations
During the Flood of 1936 (just like those of 1896 and 1987), Gardiner folks temporarily adopted a Venetian lifestyle.
Shop Locally
Some of us still remember milk delivery from local farmers.  Today, this early 1900s Gardiner farmer could bring his wares to the Farmer’s Market or the Co-Op!

Start a Big Project You’ve Been Meaning to Do

Gardiner dug up and re-paved Water Street in the early 1980s.
 Keep a Journal / Learn a New Language
This 1896 journal was kept by a Gardiner man on River Avenue and donated by a later homeowner who discovered it — for the life of us, we have been unable to translate his unique shorthand.  Any ideas?
Stop and Smell the Roses (or Any Flowers)
This 1920s snapshot comes from a Gardiner family’s large collection of negatives, many of which we are seeing for the first time in all their glory  — thanks to our negative & slide scanner!
Exercise More
We have many old sports photos of Gardiner teams.  This one is simple titled “An Early Gardiner Baseball Nine” and is probably from the late 1800s.
Remember Important Dates
If you can’t get enough of historic Gardiner, you can enjoy even more beautiful photos AND stay on top of 2017 with a copy of our new calendar — still on sale at the library, Boys & Girls Club, and all around town for only $10.  All proceeds benefit the library and the Boys & Girls Club.
 
 
Happy New Year to All!!
 
– Dawn Thistle, Special Collections Librarian

 

Do you recognize any of these faces?

Woman, unknown year, Gardiner, Maine.
October is American Archives Month, so it couldn’t be more exciting or appropriate that we finally completed renovations of our Community Archives Room and moved back in last week!  We’re still shuffling some things around, settling into the space, and waiting for some furnishings – so, stay tuned for more!
In the meantime, some things never change.  As thorough as we try to be with documenting and recording information about historic items and photographs, mysteries will always exist. We have many unidentified portrait photographs in our collection and most offer very few clues as to who the subject is.
Children photographed by S.C. Stinson, a Gardiner Photographer who worked with the ambrotype process in the 1860s.
Most photographs, such as the cartes de visite and cabinet cards included here, include the name of the photographer and location of his or her studio.  These photographs were all taken (or reproduced) here in Gardiner, each by a different photographer. Although Gardiner had many photography studios over the years, we can identify a time frame in which images were produced by knowing when the photographers worked in town.  Newspapers and directory listings have helped us build such a timeline, but some photographers left and came back, others worked steadily for decades, and still more names keep coming out of the woodwork (like Hamlin, above).
Man, “Photographed by Clark,” 1860s.
Man, 1880; “Photographic Studio of Mrs. J.K. Barker.”
Fashions of clothing or hair, styles of furniture and set pieces, and also the format and design of the photograph itself provide additional clues.  Women’s hairstyles and men’s facial hair followed distinct trends through the years and clothing and props can indicate time frames, ethnicity, wealth, career, interests and more. 
 
Woman, early 1890s; J.S. Variel, photographer.
Child, early 1890s; A.W. Kimball, photographer.
Similarly, as photographic processing improved and changed, styles emerged to distinguish one print from another.  Colored borders became popular in the late 1880s and fancy edges emerged in the 1890s. Even the thickness of card stock can help determine the age of a photograph, as materials changed and advanced over the years. Coupling these details with our timeline of photographers working in Gardiner really helps in narrowing down years.  
 
Pup, 1890s; G.F. McIntosh, photographer.
 
Some photo albums or batches of images provide contextual clues, such as family resemblances or classmate connections. Unfortunately, without any contextual clues, we’re left only with facial recognition.  So, unless someone out there sees someone they “know” from the past, these folks and four-legged friends will remain mysteries for the ages.  
 
We hope you’ll tell us if you happen to recognize anyone above — and we have many more where these came from!  But the moral of the story is: be a part of history,
Label Your Photos (in pencilNO pens, post-its, or adhesives) Today!  
Happy American Archives Month!

Historic Photo Mystery – Solved in the Archives!

Of all the wonderful reference questions we field in the Community Archives Room, some of the most engaging involve identifying photographs and their subjects, relative to Gardiner history.  Often people bring in photos of family members or local buildings and want to know just where or when or why a photo may have been taken.  We have wonderful historic maps and directories, as well as many already-identified photos that help with picking out clues to solve the mystery.  And, inevitably, every “solve” brings out new and enlightening details of our richly historic town.

Recently, a  mystery came our way electronically.  Someone had noticed an image for sale by auction on eBay and it struck up lively conversation on Facebook, with folks wondering just where in Gardiner the photograph had been taken.  The auction has since ended, but the image is still view-able online (simply Google: Gardiner bridge 1904 eBay, or click this link: http://goo.gl/dazhU8). The photo shows a young woman standing on a bridge, alongside intricate metal balustrades and a tall railing, with many wooden buildings on the waterfront behind her; writing on the back noted that it was taken September 1904 on the Gardner [sic] Bridge in Maine.

The photo offers some wonderful close-up details, but was taken from a perspective rarely seen in our collection and was not instantly identifiable.  It was not surprising that questions and discussions arose about the location, as Gardiner has at had least four to six bridges that have changed architecturally over time (Gardiner-Randolph, Bridge Street, Winter Street, New Mills, as well as those on Maine Avenue crossing both the Cobbossee and the Causeway).  Only by following each clue and connecting the right dots, could the location be pinpointed.

Many still recall the old Gardiner-Randolph Bridge (c.1933) with concrete railings and balustrades at either end.

 

New Mills Bridge (with trolley arriving, c.1910) was one of Gardiner’s metal bridges for decades, but also lacked the intricate details shown in the mystery photo.

 

Commonwealth Shoe factory, along the Kennebec, c. 1910.  The Causeway bridge in the foreground has the same metalwork and balustrades as in the mystery photo, but has different buildings in its vicinity.

Close inspection of the mystery photo shows small rosettes in the ironwork.  Many will recall similar rosettes that were removed and sold as souvenirs when the old Gardiner-Randolph Bridge was dismantled in 1980.  According to the details in the photo above (if you really zoom in), they also ran along Maine Avenue.

 

Sometimes it takes finding just the right image, taken at the right time of year (e.g., after the protective wooden sidings of winter are taken down) and, of course, in the right year (e.g., after 1896 when the 1850s bridge washed and was replaced, but before the concrete sidings were changed in the late 1920s-early 1930s) to make the solve. The image below was contemporary with the mystery photo and it showed ironwork matching the 1904 railings.

An older photo of the Gardiner-Randolph Bridge, c.1905, showing the metal balustrades and railing that match those in the photo, as well as background buildings that appear to be on the Randolph side of the bridge.

The final clue came by matching the above photo with a period map of Randolph.  The buildings on the north side of the bridge match those in the background of the mystery photo.  By 1910 (not shown), some of the buildings in question were already gone.

1903 Sanborn Map detail of Randolph, including the wooden buildings on the north side of the bridge, matching the those in the mystery photo.

At last, it was safe to conclude, without a doubt, that the mystery photo was taken on the northern Randolph side of the Gardiner-Randolph Bridge.  Although the process sounds a little tedious and drawn out, our marvelous collection led to an answer in under 15 minutes!

Of course, in true form to all our research discoveries here in the Archives, no sooner is a mystery solved than a new and exciting detail — or further mystery — crops up!  A few days later, when browsing microfilm of Gardiner newspapers to pursue a completely different question, a note about the Gardiner-Randolph bridge caught my eye in the July 20, 1906, Weekly Reporter Journal caught my eye:

Apparently some of those small details were not so small after all!

Of course, we still don’t know who the lady is.  If you have any idea — or if you have more Gardiner photos (mysterious or otherwise) — please share them with us!!  We love a good Gardiner mystery!

Things are Shaping up in the Archives…

Slowly, but steadily, progress has been made on the renovations of the Community Archives Room!

We are still a few weeks away from moving out of the reading room and back downstairs, but here are a few hints at what the big picture will look like — and soon!

From top to bottom…

New Sprinkler Heads
Fresh Ceiling Tiles & Efficient, Non-Damaging LED Lights
Dimmer Controls for the LEDs

 

 

An HVAC System to Control Temperature, Humidity, and Dust
Our Beautiful 1881 Gardiner Bricks – Cleaned and Ready for Another Century!
Freshly Painted (and Water-Resistant) Walls – with Clean Radiator Fins
Water- and Damp-Resistant Floor Tiles
Put it all together and we’ll have the state-of-the-art home our local history treasures deserve!
Stay tuned.  It won’t be long before you will be able to see the whole picture….
Indeed, there is LED light at the end of the tunnel!

RiverFest Activities!

Waterfront Park at about 6:45 this morning – the food vendors have arrived, and continue to arrive and set up for the RiverFest.

You can see the stage being erected (blown up) on the right.

 

Assigned spaces waiting to be filled.

Some of the craft vendors setting up at around 8:00.

8:00ish – you can really see the stage now!

I think this will be a “Bounce House.”

A couple of spot filled now!

Setting up on Water Street.

More vendors displaying their wares.

One last picture – 10:00ish this time.  Folks are beginning to fill the streets, and AmaZinG aromas filling the air.

Hope you have/had a chance to visit Gardiner today!

SOME NEW & OLD PICTURES OF OUR CURTAIN AND A BIOGRAPHY OF THE ARTIST

 Harry Cochrane (1860–1946)
Literature (stage curtain), Children’s Room, 2nd Floor
 Harold Hayman Cochrane, was born in Augusta, ME, son of Major James Henry and Ellen M. (Berry) Cochrane.  Raised in Monmouth, he was a naturally gifted artist, architect, musician, author, and poet.  His early career began as a “crayon artist” in a photography studio in Gardiner in the 1880s.  In the well-lit studio, on the corner of Water and Bridge Streets, he created life-sized renderings from photographs as well as in-person sittings.  In 1887, he began working on large-scale interior works, from free-hand ornamentation, to theater curtains, to huge murals.  In his lifetime, he worked throughout Maine, New England, and beyond.  Among the best known of his over 400 commissions for public buildings, are the interior of Cumston Hall in Monmouth and the Kora Temple in Lewiston.  

 

 

 

Dreaming of Spring!

As the snow gets smaller and smaller.

 

We dream of Spring.
Insects will start to appear.
We turn the pages.
The dribbling of drops begins.

 

We dream of Spring.
Plan our gardens
With a magazine.
Some green starts to appear.

 

We dream of Spring.
Town meetings start.
Voices are heard.
Hoping for no flooding. 
We dream of Spring.
What do you dream of in Spring?
Ginni Nichols, Young Adult Librarian