June 24, 2018
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Caribou folks urged to help museum build barn

By Joni Averill

Calling all Caribou natives, Caribou schools alumni, all present and former residents, and anyone who ever had any association with that lovely Aroostook County city: The Caribou Historical Society needs you!

CHS president Joe Bouchard reports only $8,000 remains to be raised to construct a barn that will be built behind the CHS museum on U.S. Route 1.

The total cost of the barn is approximately $40,000, and its basic purpose will be to house the 1959 Conestoga wagon that played such a major role in celebrating Caribou’s centennial in 1959 and its sesquicentennial 50 years later.

Joe said the organization has been contacting members of the community and asking for a $100 contribution.

If just 80 people gave that amount, the goal would be reached and, for that $100 commitment, the donor’s name will appear “on a plaque that will be on the inside of the barn,” Joe said.

I spoke with CHS treasurer Dennis Harris, and he said those who give $100 or more will have their names on a plaque, but that any donation, in any amount would be greatly appreciated.

So, if 100 people gave $80 the goal would be reached and, if there are 8,000 of you out there, somewhere in cyberspace who have fond memories of living in or around Caribou at any time in your life, and you sent in just $1, the goal could be met, too.

Both men told me the main purpose of the barn is to house that wagon, which some of you may remember.

The 1959 Conestoga, made by a New Sweden resident, is a reproduction of the type used by early Aroostook County settlers.

In June 1959, the wagon left Boston and, according to the Bangor Daily News archives, traveled U.S. Route 1 and wound its way north to arrive in Caribou on July 19, the opening date of the centennial pageant.

The barn will house not only that colorful wagon, but a great deal of other equipment and displays that are now in the museum, including “a lot of the old farm equipment that we used like planters, diggers, and harrows,” Joe said.

The CHS museum now has a collection of more than 10,000 items.

“Someone brings in items every day,” Joe said.

“We have lots of periodicals and books, and we’re happy to accept what people donate.”

The base for the barn, which is approximately 30 feet by 50 feet, has just been laid, “so we’re well on our way,” Joe said and, even though all the money has not yet been raised, the group hopes to start putting up the barn within the month.

Now that the base is down, the CHS will hold “a kind of old-fashioned hay dance on the base, just to let people know what we are doing,” Joe said.

He expects the dance will feature two or three bands, and for it to be held Saturday, July 24.

“We’ll put bales of hay around so no one will get hurt, and there will be no cost to attend as this will be our way of saying thank you for helping us raise funds for this project,” Joe said.

And while the CHS is seeking money through your donations, it also is happily accepting contributions from groups such as the Red Hat Society.

Back in May, thanks to the assistance of “Gina Clark who, I understand, e-mailed all of the Red Hats in The County,” Joe had written me earlier, “$575 was raised for our barn project” during the CHS & Cindy’s Sub Shop First Annual Red Hats and Friends Luncheon at Caribou American Legion Post 15.

The planners considered the event “a real success, with more than 100 Red Hats and friends in attendance,” he wrote.

“Everyone was raving about the program, and we got letters and telephone calls” asking for the date of the next CHS Red Hats Luncheon.

Joe is working out the details for that 2011 event.

In the meantime, if you can help build this barn for that special wagon and the many other historical pieces that need a safe and secure home, make your check out to CHS and mail it to one of three addresses: Joseph Bouchard, 877 Main St., Apt. J6, Caribou 04736; CHS, Route 1 Caribou, 04736; or Dennis Harris, CHS Treasurer, 1189 Main St., Washburn 04786.

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