HISTORY – The St. Croix Historical Society was established 1954 when property owner and grand niece of Dr. Job Holmes, Josephine Moore, gave the land and building known as the Holmes Cottage for the formation of this historical society. She was living in the house just South of the Cottage called the Holmestead, which Dr. Holmes had built for his family in 1850. The Cottage was used as his doctor’s office from 1846 until his death in 1864. The building was also used by two earlier Calais doctors, Shillomet Whipple and Cyrus Hamlin, brother of Hannibal Hamlin, President Lincoln’s first Vice President.
The 1803 building needed a lot of repair in 1954 and the newly formed group raised funds and memberships from the surrounding area. Stabilization of the building completed, it was opened as a museum and the many local contributors filled the interior with a great variety of local artifacts; many early maps, some Indian artifacts, donations of furniture, guns, and Calais memorabilia.
The museum functioned by the hard efforts of many members but especially the officers who were the original driving force; Charles S. Livingstone, the first President, Frank Fenderson, John Mc Faul, David Fletcher, Bob Treworgy, Dex Thomas, Cecil Miller, Louis Eaton, Ned Lamb, J. Hinson, Florence Boone, Homer Sargent, Lillian Unobskey, and so many others over the years.
Many summer programs were initiated and the public response was good. However, by 1978 the demographics had changed and the membership dwindled until the Society became inactive and the building became unsafe. The roof leaked, the floor joists gave way, the building was being pulled as the sills rotted and the chimney leaned. It was, as they say, ready for the wrecking ball.
Charles B. Livingstone, retired to Calais from Paper Mill employment in 1977, drove by the derelict his father had strived to preserve and became totally immersed in the idea that the Cottage could be saved. So with the efforts of a new Board of Directors, local match funding with Maine State Historic Preservation Commission Funds, the building was rehabbed in conformity with State Preservation Standards. All interior woodwork was preserved as were the original windows and much of the plastering. A new foundation for the 8′ x 8′ chimney and the rebuilding of the 4 fireplaces, faced with original brick, completed the $80,000 preservation of this earliest Calais house.
PURPOSE – This 501(C)(3) organization was formed to preserve, protect, and promote the history of Calais, Maine, through literature, public meetings, participation and preservation. To these ends the Society museum is open during the summer months or by appointment. The Society publishes a quarterly newsletter and sells books and cards that support our goals. The Society has a large collection of glass plate negatives and photos, and we establish and support historic districts and monuments, including the Whitlock’s Mill Lighthouse.
MISSION STATEMENT – The purposes of the St. Croix Historical Society are literary, scientific, social, historical and antiquarian for the gathering and perserving of historical data and ob jects and for restoring and maintaining the building 527 Main Street in Calais, Maine, which has be graciously give the Society by Miss Josephine C. Moore of Calais, Maine.
CURRENT STAFF – As of 2015, the volunteer officers of the SCHS are: President: Al Churchill; Vice President: Jerry LaPointe; Secretary and Editor: Lura Jackson; Treasurer: John Wood. The Facebook page is maintained by Al and Lura and is most often updated during weekly meetings.