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Cordelia's Story

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STANWOOD MUSEUM: BEFORE RESTORATION

“The leaves fall like feathers from the birches, but once in a while one falls prone and heavily like a grasshopper. Even as I sat there they began to cover me and I thought how little it would take to blot the remembrance of me out of the world.”

- CJS


Front Door
 


Door Plate


The Stanwood Homestead Museum and Sanctuary officially opened to the public, on August 1, 1960, happily coinciding with the 95th anniversary of Cordelia’s birth. However, Birdsacre’s rebirth as a Museum/Sanctuary could easily have fallen by the wayside.


Homestead prior to restoration in 1959
  When the infirmity of age finally forced Cordelia to leave her home for assisted living in 1955, she closed the doors on a dilapidated, hundred-year-old Cape Style Cottage, filled with warm childhood memories and curious secrets that settled in the silence with the dust on the beautifully carved furniture, silent Seth Thomas Mantel Clock, and cold, parlor stoves. Time could have silenced the memory of Cordelia’s accomplishments, vanquished her home, and transformed the 40-acre Stanwood property into the housing development that perspective buyers were envisioning on the valuable, commercial land, had not a thoughtful few of the business community interceded.

Barely two months after Cordelia had been buried in McKenzie cemetery, Chandler Richmond (a bird club member, recipient of Cordie’s field-notes) reviewed her accomplishments before the Rotary Club. When Chandler concluded, Hervey Phillips - president of a local bank – spoke up: “Go after that place Chandler. I will back you personally to do it.” Hervey not only personally sponsored the acquisition of the Stanwood Property without the usual, necessary legal protection, but also reinvested the returned sum as the initial operating budget for the first year’s enormous expenditures!

To move mountains without mountainous finances, Birdsacre became a true community project, supported and accomplished with a barn-raising attitude by the community. A network of dedicated community leaders formed, community clubs gathered, and countless volunteers rallied to restore the forlorn, old homestead and surrounding grounds to its original, grand appearance; accomplished within the unbelievable whirlwind of 10 brief months. Old friends and neighbors retold stories accompanying every item within the house, while Cordie’s younger sister, Della, at 88, directed the arrangement of the Victorian house as the childhood home of their youth.


Rocking Chair
 


Tea Set



Stanwood Homestead about 1915
 


GWW Lamp

“Community Spirit:” Majancia letter - August 31, 1959
 

Contact info:
Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary
P.O. Box 485
Ellsworth, Me. 04605
(207)-667-8460
e-mail: Birdsacre@hotmail.com