The Curran Homestead Village at Newfield plans an ice harvest Feb. 11. The ownership of former 19th Century Willowbrook Village transferred to the Orrington-based Curran Homestead at the first of the year, and a number of special events are planned, from the ice harvest to “cabin fever” classes urging the February school break and spring field trips. Here, folks were en enjoying an ice harvest on the Newfield property in 2015. SUBMITTED PHOTO

NEWFIELD — There will be an ice harvest in February, if the weather cooperates, a maple syrup event, and when spring comes, school children will be exploring how life used to be.

The youngsters will take a peek at how folks lived in the 19th century at the Curran Homestead Village at Newfield. That’s the new name for the property that for more than 40 years was 19th Century Willowbrook Village.

The Curran Homestead is based in Orrington, but with the new year, became the official owner of the former Willowbrook property.

The Curran Homestead Village at Newfield will be open for a number of special events, including the school field trips that have been so popular in the past, said Robert Schmick, director of both campuses.

And for those who have wondered, the 1894 Armitage Herschell carousel, gifted to Willowbrook by Ivory Fenderson V of Saco and purchased by his father, cabinet maker Ivory Fenderson IV, will remain  in Newfield, just as long as the field trips continue, Schmick said. He expects that to be for a number of years.

“If there is interest in the Curran Homestead Village at Newfield and people are coming to the events,  that will be important to us making a decision how long we want to continue doing things down there,” said Schmick.

So far, Schmick has signed up 500 children for school field trips this spring and is welcoming more — his goal is the 2016 level of 2,000 schoolchildren. Teachers may inquire at

19th Century Willowbrook Village closed in October, unable to recover after the 2008 economic downturn. Its directors came together and gifted the property and most of the artifacts to the Curran Homestead. Other artifacts were gifted to the Newfield Historical Society, Sanford Springvale Historical Museum and a host of others.

But there is a continued interest in Newfield.

A bill submitted by Orrington Democrat, Rep. Richard Campbell, would help both campuses.

Campbell on Tuesday said he is proposing that the state create a $500,000 matching fund — dollar for dollar — specifically designed to aid the Curran organization and its two campuses. If passed by the Legislature, the Curran entity would be eligible for up to $125,000 annually for four years, provided the organization can raise an equal amount.

“It is an opportunity to preserve and protect a historic lifestyle,” said Campbell. “They’re both living history entities. They are both historic examples of technology and the science that created it.”

Campbell said he is seeking bipartisan legislative support in both York and Penobscot counties for the bill.

In Newfield, an ice harvest on the Mill Pond is planned for Feb. 11, ice permitting, 10 3 p.m. It is a free, hands-on event for the family, extracting blocks of ice from the pond using old tools, just the way it was done years ago, when ice was harvested and sent around the country to keep things cool. Folks can take rides on traditional bobsleds drawn by draft horses, and keep warm by sampling chili and cornbread.

Also during February school break, “cabin fever relief” classes aimed at 8- to 12-year-olds are on tap. Schmick said there will be an erector set class using vintage sets, a cyanotype photography class, sewing projects on a treadle machine, and a retired forester will conduct a class in creating lumber tailing sticks. Such sticks were used in logging operations to calculate the height of trees and how many board feet of lumber the tree would yield.

As well, he said blacksmith-in-residence Sam Smith is planning to conduct workshops.

“There’s a group of volunteers and supporters formerly of Willowbrook keen on helping out with this new chapter,” Schmick said.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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