BRUNSWICK — As the rest of the world ushered in a new decade and Maine began preparations for its 200th birthday, Brunswick’s Pejepscot Historical Society quietly celebrated a fresh start of its own: a rebranding with a new name, a yet-to-be-released new logo and a shifting vision.

Now called the Pejepscot History Center, executive director Larissa Vigue Picard said the organization wants to appear more welcoming to the community. 

In choosing a new name, it was clear that the word Pejepscot was “non-negotiable.” It may be hard for some to spell and others to pronounce, but “it’s a very important word, extremely historical,” she said.

Pejepscot is a Wabankaki word that refers to the Androscoggin River, the major waterway and “lifeblood” for the surrounding areas, translated alternatively as “long, rocky rapids part” and “crooked like a diving snake,” according to the history center. 

It was the word “society,” that needed to change, Vigue Picard said. Through meetings with members, donors and nonmembers, they found that “society” seemed too antiquated and “clique-ish.”

“Center is a more open and welcoming kind of word (and) we thought the word history was a little bit more embraceable than historical,” she said.  

The decision to change the name that has been in place since 1888 was not something the board rushed into. 

“We’re the fourth-oldest historical society in the state. We don’t take that venerable history lightly,” she said. It was instead borne out of “a thoughtful, detailed discussion with a lot of people (concerning) being more welcoming and inviting more people to the organization.” 

Along with the rebrand, thanks to a “generous bequest” last year, officials plan to complete some restoration and renovation work, including extending the lobby at the Chamberlain Museum and working on some renovations to the center’s front exhibit room. Again, the changes will hopefully make the space feel more welcoming, Vigue Picard said. 

Throughout the year the Pejepscot History Center will brainstorm new programming ideas for their 300 members and other interested community members and will continue to expand on current programs, including Untold Stories, a special history lesson and hands-on activity pairing for kids in grades three to five. 

“We are trying to tell young people about some things related to local history that they may not know a whole lot about,” she said, adding that it has been many years since the organization had strong children’s programming, so they are “happy to be reintroducing that.” 

The popular History Happy Hours will also continue Jan. 9 at the Brunswick Inn with a lesson on the history of scrapbooks and how they contribute to the preservation of history. There will be scrapbooks from the collection on display and guests are encouraged to bring their own to share and discuss. 

In March, the Pejepscot History Center will host its annual meeting, accompanied by a presentation by Earle Shettleworth, state historian, exploring the history of Maine town and city views in the first 50 years of statehood. 

The organization also will unveil its new logo at the meeting, Vigue Picard said. 

Tickets for the March 24 event are $18.20 (commemorating Maine’s birthday) and are available to the public at pejepscothistorical.org/events or by calling (207) 729-6606.

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