– By RAY ROUTHIER

Staff Writer

The Raitt Homestead Farm Museum in Eliot is so loaded with historic artifacts that they’re falling out of the woodwork.

Literally.

In October, when workers were repairing the roof on the museum’s 1896 farmhouse, an 1858 Beals Remington Revolver fell out of the soffit — the part of the roof that hangs over the edges of the building. The workers also found a powder horn and a couple of glass bottles in the soffit.

“Their first thought was that maybe it was a toy gun, because you don’t expect to see a real one,” said Lisa Raitt, a museum trustee and the museum’s events coordinator. “Why it was there and who put it there, we’ll probably never know. But somebody went to a lot of work to hide it there. It’s not an easy place to reach.”

Raitt, part of the family that owned the farm before it was turned over to a nonprofit group in 2003, said the area where the gun was found was off an upstairs room over a shed area.

She said one theory among museum trustees and volunteers is that someone might have hidden up there at some point and needed a gun for protection. Also, someone might have used that gun in a war — the Civil War maybe — and brought it back to Maine.

Raitt said she’s not sure whether the powder horn goes with the gun.

Whatever the reason it was hidden in that soffit, the gun is an interesting relic of farm life in Maine 100 or more years ago. But its value, as a collectible, is reduced by the rust and damage it accumulated over all those years. Raitt said a gun expert valued the gun at $400 to $550.

“It would have been worth more if hadn’t been exposed to water and gotten all that rust,” said Raitt.

The gun is being repaired in New Hampshire and will be on view during at least two of the museum’s summer events: the annual Antique Tractor and Engine Show, July 29-31; and the Mainely Grillin’ & Chillin’ BBQ Festival, Aug. 12-14.

The property was a working farm run by the Raitt family from the late 1800s until early in this century. A nonprofit group took over the property in 2003.

For now, the museum is open for various events. The hope is to open it eventually for regular visiting hours, Raitt said.

For more information on the Raitt Homestead Farm Museum, go to www.raittfarmmuseum.org.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]