Tucked away in southern Maine is a unique
museum focusing on turn-of-the-century rural America. Founded by
Don King in 1970, the Willowbrook Museum Village of Newfield,
Maine, is a “must see” for all antique gas engine enthusiasts.
Featuring a wide array of early artifacts, its collection includes
antique engines, tractors, carriages, horse-drawn farm equipment
and a steam-driven carousel – even an airplane car.
The museum building, originally known as the Durgin homestead,
was one of the few structures in the area spared from a devastating
forest fire in 1947. King, an avid hunter and outdoorsman,
originally remodeled the homestead as a lodge when he purchased the
site. As time went by, local residents encouraged King to restore
the Durgin home and its outlying barns to their former glory, and
that was the start of King’s collection of antique engines,
tractors, carriages and local historical artifacts.
The Durgin homestead is located in what is now historic Newfield
Village. The house and barns are restored, and a unique feature is
its country store. The Durgins’ were merchants and made a store out
of one of the barns. Today, the same store is operating, and
throughout the barn visitors can find farm equipment displays
ranging from butter churns to decoys.
There is also an 1894 Armitage Herschell portable steam carousel
that was purchased by the Fenderson family of Saco, Maine. The
carriage was transported to different country fairs for 26 years.
It is a complete unit, including the original ticket booth, signs
and steam engine, which now runs on compressed air.
A goal of the museum is to have some engines operating farm
equipment in a working display. To this end, the museum needs gas
engine enthusiasts who will help get a few of engines running and
help fill in the history of the engines themselves. Gas farm
engines have been displayed with pumps, wood splitters, cord wood
saws and other farm-related equipment.
The carriage barn has horse-drawn equipment ranging from pungs
(low, one-horse box sleighs) to an 1849 Concord stagecoach, one of
the earliest remaining stagecoaches in the country. Other
attractions include an early schoolhouse, a bicycle shop, tools and
the one-of-a-kind “roadable airplane.” Its short, cigar-shaped
wings allowed it to take off and land on the back roads of
The museum is open May 15 through Sept. 30, and the Christmas
Etcetera Gift Shop, which specializes in gifts, books and museum
memorabilia, is open May 15 through Dec. 23.
Contact the Willowbrook Museum at: 68 Elm St., Newfield, ME
04056; (207) 793-2784; www.willowbrookmuseum.org
Contact engine enthusiast Paul Baresel at: 69 Christian Hill
Road, Limington, ME 04049.