Referred to as "the area's best-kept secret", the Matthews Museum of
Maine Heritage has been acclaimed as one of New England's finest
museums. This excellent museum has something for people of all ages; to
wonder and learn about lifestyles in the 18th century. The Museum
houses over 10,000 artifacts, including carriages, agricultural tools,
musical instruments, books, collections of photo prints and a research
library. It also houses a sizeable collection of Moxie memorabilia,
occupying, among other things, the new annex, at the west end of the
Interior space is sectioned into booths displaying artifacts having
similar uses. Accented by background of weathered board walls, an 18th
century Blacksmith Shop, Cobbler shop, Country Kitchen, and library are
displayed as they may have been 100 years ago. Cooper shop, Spinning
wheels, , a folding, tin bath tub (complete with heater unit), cradles,
sleighs, sleds (a twelve-foot long sled used at Union in winter taking
six or more riders down the hill across the common to Depot Street and
on to the cemetery), carts, wagons. carriages, a horse-drawn hearse,
clothes, film-making equipment, rope beds, stoves, an organ (played
regularly during Union Fair and on special occasions), jewelry, and
dolls are only a few items that take the viewer back in time.
The original 900-piece collection was purchased from Union native,
Edwards A. Matthews in the early 1960s (in the picture Matthews is
examining one of the many artifacts purchased in 1964.. It included
antique tools, vehicles and kitchen utensils dating back more than 100
years. Included is a Cameragraph, a 35 mm silent motion picture film
projector which was first operated at the old Union Town Hall. Included
are many more innovative, homemade inventions which lend credence to the
term "Yankee ingenuity". Since that time additional items have been
loaned or donated, creating a well-rounded collection of over 10,000
artifacts relevant to colonial Maine.
One special section holds Moxie memorabilia honoring the Union man Dr.
Augustine Thompson, who, in 1876, invented the one-time patent medicine,
Moxie Nerve Food, which is now sold as a soft drink.
With farm wagons, sleds and a variety of horse-drawn vehicles, the
carriage barn features the one-horse shay one of only two in existence -
the second being displayed at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington.
DC. Both carriages, stenciled by a native Union man, were built in 1850
by Collins, Wingate, Little & Co. The firm later became known as Wingate
& Simmons Carriage Shop, Union, Maine.
Adjacent to the Museum is the Hodge School, a one- room schoolhouse in
its original structure and interior decor. The school operated from 1864
In 2011, MMoMH completed the construction of the new "Carriage House" on
the north side of the museum. The old structure succumbed to multiple
severe weather exposures, resulting in complete destruction of the
building. Friends and members of MMoMH undertook the task of
building a new structure from scratch in the place the old one stood.
With a lot of hard work, and a lot of donations, the new Carriage House
was erected and completed before the 2011 Union Fair. The carriages were
moved to a nearby building while the construction was in progress,
giving us the opportunity to offer some TLC to the old exhibits.
The new Carriage House is compliant to
handicapped requirements and is on the same
level of the museum, unlike the old one which was 5 steps lower. In
addition, the new building has excellent ventilation and wide-door
access to the largest carriage.
We have many new exhibits on display this year. If you haven't visited
the museum lately, make sure you do so this year. You will be pleasantly
The Hodge one-room school house has lifted and the foundation was
repaired. New electrical circuits and a new door replaced the old ones.
A new soda fountain was installed in the Moxie annex. A governors desk
was installed in the "Barber Shop". There are many other new exhibits
too many to list here.
All these innovations cannot happen without considerable expense. We
were fortunate to have many friends who appreciate or efforts and help
us in our endeavors. Nevertheless, we are always in need of more money.
Please consider a membership to the museum and or a donation to our cause.