The Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk is all about place.

Celebrating its 80th birthday, it’s in the town’s oldest block of commercial buildings, where wealthy ship owner William Lord opened a general store made out of brick in 1825. But it’s more than that.

“It transcends generations,” said trustee Bruce Jackson of Kennebunkport at the Museum’s Fancy Dress Bash on June 30. “Not only do we represent the history of the area, but we’re deeply involved in the community … We’ve got living history right here.”

Cynthia Walker, director of the Brick Store Museum, was dressed from head to toe as though she had stepped out of 1936, when the museum was first established by Lord’s great-granddaughter, Edith Cleaves Barry, during the Great Depression.

“We usually have a few fundraisers a year, and it’s always fun for people to dress up, so we decided to pair that,” she said.

Another attendee, trustee PJ Cavanaugh, once lived in an apartment in what is now part of the Brick Store Museum complex.

“I fell in love with this place almost 50 years ago. I came as a new bride,” she said. “The spirit and the passion for the history really impressed me.”

“The Brick Store Museum is the keeper of the heritage of the community, but it stays vibrant with the times to allow people to understand how our heritage is crucial today and (will be) in the future,” said Steve Spofford, immediate past president of the museum’s board.

The museum’s collection of 70,000 objects includes a lot of shipbuilding tools, models and primary documents, as ships were built “just down the road,” Walker said. But the collection touches upon nearly every other facet of life in the Kennebunks.

“What is so refreshing for a small museum is its ability to balance history and art,” said trustee Christopher Farr, pointing to current exhibits on historical costuming, photography and medicine. The museum’s only permanent exhibit showcases furnishings and portraits of town residents from 1685 to 1840.

“We support the Brick Store Museum because the historical information is really helpful to understand the area,” said member Sheila Clark-Edmands of Kennebunk. “They hold wonderful events, give a lot to the community and have an education component for schoolchildren.”

“And they maintain an extensive archive that is accessible,” added Peter Edmands.

“It’s wonderful to have such an active preservation of history right here in the Kennebunks,” said Jeannine McCoy. “And every time you come, you see different things.”

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer from Scarborough. She can be contacted at:

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