By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - By next summer, anyone wanting to learn about their Dexter roots can do their own research in a comfortable, bright room at the Dexter Historical Society's newest facility, the Abbott Museum.Since Guilford of Maine deeded the former Abbott Mill office building to the society two years ago, work has continued to renovate the facility into a museum.
The public will get a peek next week of the renovation progress during an open house from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 16.
Much of the $67,000 raised to date for the renovation has been from individual donations or from the "sale" of nine rooms in the museum at $5,000 each, according to Rick Whitney, museum curator.
The Abbott, Hatch, Holsapple, Call-Reed, Tillson, Crawford, Lancaster, and Fay-Plouff families, whose history is richly embedded in the community, each donated $5,000 to have rooms named in their honor.
The local American Legion also made a similar donation to have its war honor roll in the building.
Although the society had established a goal of $80,000 for the restoration project, it is now estimated the project will cost $120,000, according to Whitney.
He hopes the society can raise the remaining amount through fund-raising activities, donations and grants.
The group has applied for a $14,000 rural development grant to help purchase and install a furnace in the building.
A big boost to the project came from the Sunrise Kiwanis Club, which adopted the museum as its community service project and engaged the Tri-County Technical Center's building program to do some of the renovation work.
The school program is a partnership program of the Kiwanis Club that creates hands-on building experience for students.
Whitney figures the student builders saved the society as much as $25,000 by doing the work with the materials the society furnished.
The savings from their efforts have left enough for foundation work later this summer, he said.
Like the society's other facilities, the Grist Mill and the Carr Schoolhouse, the Abbott building is of historical significance. The Abbott family was very prominent in the town and the building represents Dexter's past as a woolen mill community.
The clapboard building, constructed in 1836, once served as a combination school and town hall on the site of the current town hall.
The Abbott family purchased the building, cut it into three sections, and moved it to the present location where it served as an office. Guilford of Maine, which purchased it later, used the building for storage.
The building's location on Route 7 will give the society more visibility, according to Whitney.
The group plans to open an information-visitors center on the floor facing the highway, which will be a benefit to the community, he said.
The genealogy research room, library, conference room and bathrooms also will be located there and are expected to be completed by next summer.
In addition to attending the open house next week, visitors are encouraged to stop at the Grist Mill and Carr Schoolhouse.
Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. The society's telephone number is 924-5721.
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