Old Fort Western Winter Series Schedule


Fort Western A Piece of the Puzzle
Old Fort Western Director, Linda J. Novak

Museum Directors and Directors of Historic Places such as Fort Western tend to remove their sites from the overall historic picture.  We tend to disassociate our venue from other historic places to promote our site in order to compete with other sites for a larger share of the financial pie.  Is any site more important than the next?  Do I think Fort Western is an important site and of more significance than others?  In many ways, yes — but, by ignoring those other sites and their connection to Fort Western, I’d do a disservice to the people and overall history of Maine.  Fort Western did not exist as an entity unto and of itself.  It was a piece of the overall picture, and to tell its story we need to explore its connections to other places and times. (essay continues after event lecture schedule)

2013 Winter Lecture Series – A Piece of the Puzzle
How the Maine Historic Sites Fit Together
Sundays 2:00-4:00 p.m. – Lecture Hall, City Hall

February 3, 2013
Lincoln County Historical Association.
Speaker: Ed Kavanagh, President
Featured Sites:
Chapman-Hall House (1754)
Pownalboro Court House (1761),
Old Jail (1811)
Vaughan Homestead
Speaker: Ellen Gibson, Executive Director

February 10, 2013
Kennebec Historical Society
Speaker: Ernie Plummer, President
Bureau of Maine Parks
Speaker: Tom Desjardins
Featured Sites: Popham, Swans Island, Reuben Colburn House (Pittston), Ft. Halifax (Winslow)

February 17, 2013
Speaker: Dr. Bruce Bourque, Chief Archaeologist & Curator of Ethnography, Maine State Museum
The Sword Fish Hunters: The History and Ecology of an Ancient American Sea People
Bunker Hill Publishing, Incorporated, 2012 (ISBN-13: 9781593730383)

February 24, 2013
Speaker: Micah Pawling, History Professor, UMO
The Wabanaki Homeland and the New State of Maine: The 1820 Journal and Plans of Survey of Joseph Treat
University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA 2007

March 3, 2013
Speaker: Jim Leamon, Retired Professor of History, Bates College
The Reverend Jacob Bailey, Maine Loyalist
The University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA 2012

March 10, 2013
The Fort Richmond Archaeological Excavation
Speaker: Leith Smith, Historic Archaeologist, MHPC

March 17, 2013
The Loyal Atlantic : Remaking the British Atlantic in the Revolutionary Era
University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Buffalo, 2012
Co-Editor: Liam Riordan, Associate Professor of History, UMO

March 24, 2013
Maple Syrup Sunday – Fort Open House

Note: All books will be available for sale through the OFW Gift Shop.


Every historic place and event is the result of what came before.  It is also the seed of what is yet to come.  For instance, Fort Western was born out of the conflict between the English and French in their quest to colonize North America which leads to the French and Indian Wars.  Fort Richmond and Fort Shirley were the line in the sand between the English and the French to provide needed security to promote colonization of the lower Kennebec.  Once settled and secured, that line was raised and Fort Western and Fort Halifax were built and settlement began on the upper Kennebec.

When the French and Indian threat was neutralized and the English and Scots-Irish gained dominance in the region, Fort Western was demilitarized and became the S & W Howard Store.  The S & W Howard Store quickly became the economic and social center for development of the central Kennebec providing the necessary goods, services and security for permanent settlement of the entire central Kennebec area.  The store, located in what was then Hallowell, served the founders of all the towns of the Central Kennebec bordering the Kennebec River including Sidney, Winslow, Chelsea, Gardiner, Randolph, and Augusta.

The operation of the S & W Howard Store spanned 40 years and existed during the end of the French & Indian War, pre-Revolution, Revolution, Post-Revolution, and the building of a New Nation.  Its reign ended with the embargo of 1807 leading up to the War of 1812.  During these years of operation the Hook (Hallowell today) slowly gained strength and became the economic center of the region while the Fort (Augusta today) became the political and social center of the region.  After the separation of Augusta from Hallowell in 1797, Hallowell continued to be a strong economic center for the Kennebec, while Augusta continued being the political and social center.  Eventually Augusta became the State Capital after Maine achieved statehood in 1820.

Fort Western would not be here today if the French and Indian War had not occurred resulting neither Fort Shirley nor Fort Richmond would have been built, and there would have been no need to build Fort Western and Fort Halifax.  If Fort Western had not existed, there would have been no Captain Howard and the S & W Howard Store would never have been opened and operated.  The Hook may or may not have become the economic center of the river and with no Fort to become the political and social center, Augusta might never have separated from Hallowell or become the State Capitol.  We are all pieces of the same puzzle entitled Maine’s History and to assemble that puzzle all the historic sites need to work together and tie into each other to educate people to the bigger picture

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