Women at work

Learning new skills is part of the fun for construction volunteers

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jul 30, 2013
Courtesy of: Vivia Andrews Diane O'Brien, left, and Hannah Burke share a high-five on the site of the open-air museum they are helping to build.

Lincolnville — A maroon trailer parked at the former Dean & Eugley’s site on Route 52 sports a bright yellow sign that reads “Women at Work.” The women referred to on the sign are currently a crew of nine Lincolnville residents who are building an open-air museum to house “large items of historical interest,” said Diane O’Brien, the contact person for the group. She said other women are welcome to join the group.

Items to be displayed include farming implements, small boats, sleighs, ice-cutting tools and other items, some owned by Lincolnville Historical Society and some that belong to local people, which the historical society hopes will be donated. O’Brien emphasized the display will not replace the society’s Schoolhouse Museum, which currently houses many town historical items.

Last October, a group of residents participated in moving — by hand, using ropes — the 130-year-old former schoolhouse that formerly sat across the road from the Dean & Eugley’s site with the intention to refashion it into a library for the town. That project also is currently under way.

While the library is coming along well, O’Brien said, some residents realized the crew working on it would not be able to finish it and build the open-air museum by the planned completion date of Oct. 27. So the women’s work crew was born, under the leadership of resident Sandy Shute, who designed the two sheds that will be used for display. Part of one of the sheds will also be used for storage, O’Brien said.

The display sheds will have doors with “hard-to-remove screens,” O’Brien explained, adding wooden panels will cover the doors in winter to protect the equipment.

Shute has extensive carpentry experience, including building a post-and-beam house from a kit with her family in 2004. She has also taken courses at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport and has been building some furniture, she said.

Shute described her design as a hybrid of two-by-four and timber frame construction. Besides designing the sheds, she determines at the beginning of each work day what needs to be done and has taught carpentry skills to the other women in the crew. Both the men working on the library and the women working on the sheds work Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (the women work 8 a.m. to noon). At 10 o’clock, they all take a break together, with refreshments often provided by townspeople.

O’Brien said all the wood being used to construct the sheds is from Lincolnville, much of it donated by residents and cut by local people. Some is from historic structures elsewhere in town, including a beam from the Moody house, she said. Since the wood is rough and wet, O’Brien said, working with it has been “really a challenge.” Inside the structure they’re working on now, the women have tacked up a Rosie the Riveter poster that proclaims "We Can Do It!"

As the site of a former garage with underground gas tanks, O’Brien said, the land, which has since come into the town’s possession, “wasn’t exactly a lot that was going to be sold and developed.” She noted the library and open-air museum are giving the parcel “a purpose.”

Lois Lyman, another resident and member of the women’s construction crew, reflected on the recent conversion of a former fire station, along with part of the former schoolhouse that was not moved, into a boat club, as well as the library and museum project. She said when she came to town in 1996, “the Center was dying. This is so exciting.”

Jill Harvey works on a shed that will be used to display items like farming implements, boats and ice-cutting tools. (Courtesy of: Vivia Andrews)
Volunteer Hannah Burke uses a power saw. (Courtesy of: Vivia Andrews)
Sandy Shute designed the sheds and leads the women working to construct them. (Courtesy of: Vivia Andrews)
Lee Cronin pounds a nail into a board. (Courtesy of: Vivia Andrews)
Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jul 30, 2013 16:55

You Go Girls! I am so proud of you all. My mother went to work on the docks during WW2, not Rosie the Riveter but a dock Rigger. She directed the crane which loaded the ships for war. The Boston docks were busy then. And cold after an 8 hour shift and 5 days a week. On VE Day, the women were sent home to have babies and the men took over the "Men's" job. Women are now equal and just as capable as men. Go Girls Go!

Mickey McKeever

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Sarah Reynolds
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
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Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.

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