Little did Freeport Historical Society trustee and volunteer Rebecca Hotelling know it, but when she interviewed Alden Grant Jr. last year for the exhibit on Freeport’s shoe-making industry, she was setting the stage for the upcoming exhibit on logging.

Grant is the son of Alden Grant Sr., whose paintings of logging scenes in the Rangeley area make up the Freeport Historical Society’s new show, “Logging In The Maine Woods, 1915-1928: The Paintings of Alden Grant.” Grant’s paintings – done from memory – are compiled in a softcover book of the same name. The eight-week show, which begins on Feb. 1 with an opening reception from 5-7 p.m., at the Harrington House on 45 Main St., is part of Freeport FebFest, a month-long celebration of the arts.

Hotelling was interviewing Alden Grant Jr. – owner since 1992 of the Nicholson Inn Bed & Breakfast, just a short walk from the Harrington House – for the just-completed exhibit, “Cobblers to Capitalists: Two Centuries of Freeport Shoemaking.” Grant told Hotelling stories about his father’s work in the shoe industry, including his time with Commonwealth Shoe & Leather Co. on Depot Street, in the mid-1950s.

“That’s how she found out about his father’s paintings,” said Holly Hurd, collections manager for the historical society. “She went up to Rangeley at the Maine Logging Museum, and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could show these paintings at the Freeport Historical Society?’ This is a traveling exhibit. It’s not our exhibit.”

Hotelling said that the trip to Rangeley was rewarding.

“Herbie Welch was a famous taxidermist in Rangeley,” she said. “Alden Grant learned much of his skills from Welch at Kennebago Lake.”

Alden Grant Sr., who died in 2002 at the age of 91, was not a logger. He suffered from polio as a child, and his left foot was badly damaged in an ax accident at the age of 13. His father, Ed Grant, built Grant’s Camps at the foot of Kennebago Lake, and that’s where Alden Grant Sr. grew up.

Later in life, Grant, who played stringed instruments, gave music lessons in Freeport and elsewhere in southern Maine, and he eventually went into shoe manufacturing.

“He has ties to Freeport,” Hurd said. “He lived here as a musician and music teacher.”

The Freeport Historical Society exhibit will mark the first time Grant’s paintings have been shown in southern Maine.

“People should come and see them while they have the chance,” Hurd said. “It’s a short-time exhibit.”

One of Grant’s paintings has been hanging for years at the Nicholson Inn, owned by his son and his son’s wife, Jane, whose family owned it.

“He painted from memory,” Grant Jr. said of his father. “He’d go back to Kennebago whenever he could.”

He said that his father began teaching music in the Freeport area in the early 1930s. The family had moved to Scarborough in the late ’20s.

“They had a shore dinner place there,” Grant said. “Then he started opening music schools all around. They were group lessons. School in Freeport was on Wednesday afternoons. They would move on to the next town the next day.”

Alden Grant’s wife, the former Louise Gould, was from Freeport, and they moved back there for a short time following her graduation from Gorham Normal School. The couple, married in 1934, raised four children.

In 1949, Grant helped launch a hand-sewn shoe line in a Gardiner factory. He moved to Monmouth in 1951, and later settled in Leeds.

“It was a successful effort,” Alden Grant Jr. said. “In 1956 they came here and rented a house so his wife could teach during the school year.”

Alden Grant Jr., lived in Freeport just at the right time to attend and graduate from Freeport High School in 1957.

“My grandparents were always in town,” he said, “so I was here a lot. My sister Lillian and I were born across the street from this inn.”

Dan Brewer, a 15th-generation Freeport resident and logger, cut a pine tree and sawed off three 12-foot logs, which are displayed on a “pung,” or “scoot,”  in front of the Harrington House, home of the Freeport Historical Society. The logs are emblematic of the exhibit, “Logging in the Maine Woods, the Paintings of Alden Grant,” which begins FebFest with an opening reception from 5-7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 1.


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