Saturday, June 9, 2018

Interpretation Planning for the Narcissus Project Begins - Steps Towards Developing a Budget

The first page of the Portland-Lewiston
from the O. R. Cummings Collection at
the NEERHS Library. PWM 

     Plans for the ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the completed restoration of Seashore Trolley Museum's 1912 Portland-Lewiston Interurban No, 14, Narcissus are being developed for fall 2021. With that three-year timeline comes additional benchmarks for the research, development, creation, and the implementation of a comprehensive plan to tell the story of the Narcissus. This interpretation plan may include educational programming, exhibit and display offerings, as well as outreach programs in a variety of formats, including on-site, off-site, social media, and online curriculum.

     One of the first steps in this process is to identify resources that may be available for use in telling this amazing story with so many enduring storylines. The National Register of Historic Places member, Narcissus, is, by itself, majestic - a gem of exquisite beauty, and worthy of its own high-end, hardcover coffee-table book with images taken by professional photographer's. However, the depth and breadth of this beauty's allure are even more fascinating as one looks into its genealogy. 

     The first steps towards identifying resources that may be helpful for building interpretive offerings is to make a list of known holders of artifacts, ephemera, etc. related to, or connected with, the Narcissus, the Portland-Lewiston Interurban, Laconia Car Company, W. S. Libbey, Theodore Roosevelt and his connections in Maine, J. Henri Vallee, etc., and of course, Seashore Trolley Museum. Once that list is made, research is done within the collections of those various organizations and a digital inventory is created, which leads to the creation of a digital bibliography of all items held in those various collections that have some connections to the Narcissus Project. As an example, the Maine Historical Society has within its vast repository, the Central Maine Power Collection/Archives. The digital bibliography for that collection alone is 300 pages. The number of files on electric railways in Maine, including the Portland-Lewiston Interurban, within the CMP Collection, is incredible, and very exciting to think about possibly uncovering some of the materials for use in the Narcissus interpretation programming. This research and creating digital bibliography will be done by a person being paid a stipend. While a qualified person is being sought to conduct the research and create the digital bibliography this summer, we can look at the Museum's Library resources to identify PLI-related items that may be used and included in the digital bibliography.

     Seashore Trolley Museum is owned and operated by the New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS) in Kennebunkport, Maine. The NEERHS was chartered as a 501c3 non-profit organization in Maine in 1941, though the organization has its origin back to July 5, 1939, when a small group of young men made a deposit of $108 to the Biddeford & Saco Railroad in order to purchase the 1900 open trolley car, No. 31. Over these past seventy-nine years, the organization's Library has amassed an incredible collection of ephemera, photographs, maps, blueprints, car cards, film, slides, and a variety of electric railway corporate records. In addition, many electric railway enthusiasts have donated their extensive personal collections to the NEERHS Library. Within the extensive archival collection of the NEERHS Library is electric railway author, O. R. Cummings'  collection. 

    O. R. Cummings was a passenger in one of the interurbans of the PLI only once - in 1932 when he accompanied his mother to her 20-year reunion at Bates College. They traveled from Newburyport, MA to Portland, ME by train and continued on to Lewiston over the PLI. He so very much wanted to see the day the Narcissus was fully restored to operating condition. He even signed-over his royalties to the Narcissus restoration fund from his 1967 book, "Maine's Fast Electric Railroad: Portland-Lewiston Interurban". O. R. was given the PLI Employee Scrapbook by its maker and fellow electric railway historian, Charles Heseltine. O. R., in turn, gifted the scrapbook to the NEERHS Library in 2013. 

     The PLI Employee Scrapbook has 112 pages (78 have attachments) of incredible memories from the construction & operating years (1910-1933) of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban and of the four reunions (1938-1941) of former PLI employees. In looking through the scrapbook my first time (see the short video below), one of my first reactions was to say that these photos and other attachments in the scrapbook need to be professionally conserved and, if possible, digitize the contents so that they would be available for use in creating exhibits, displays, and educational offerings.

     Knowing we had this one-of-a-kind precious PLI employee scrapbook as a potential resource for creating interpretation materials - if quality digital images of the items held in the scrapbook were made available. The next step became clear. To find where the scrapbook contents could be professionally conserved and while doing so, having the contents professionally digitized. 

     I reached out to Dugan Murphy, Executive Director at Maine Archives & Museums. Dugan was very helpful and shared contacts of individuals and organizations that might be good candidates to consider for the conservation. NEDCC stood out and as it turned out the Museum Library team was familiar with the organization in Andover, MA. I contacted Michael Lee, Director - Paper and Photography Conservation at NEDCC with information on the scrapbook and included the link to the short video clip of Amber Tatnall and me first turning pages of the scrapbook. Michael forwarded my request to NEDCC's Director of Book Conservation, Mary Patrick (MP) Bogan. MP replied to my request and was very enthusiastic about the project and found watching the video to be very helpful in assessing early needs. We made the appointment to bring the scrapbook to NEDCC for the purpose of receiving an estimate to conserve the scrapbook and its contents, as well as having an estimate for digitizing its contents. We included bringing the original PLI elevation map as well to also receive estimates for conservation and digitizing the fragile and irreplaceable PLI artifact (more on the map below).

1941 group photo of the final reunion of the employees of
the Portland-Lewiston Interurban. There were four reunions,
1938, 39, 40, & 41, all were in Gray.
From the PLI Employees Scrapbook.

A short video showing us flipping through
pages of the PLI employee scrapbook for the
first time in April 2014.

     On Monday, May 7, Amber Tatnall, Randy Leclair, and I traveled together to Andover, MA. Randy is the restoration shop foreman who also serves on the Library Committee. Amber Tatnall is the Librarian at the York County Community College in Wells, Maine. Amber is a Museum member and formerly served on the Library Committee. At the NEDCC reception area, we were met by Jonathan Goodrich, Registrar, who in turn introduced us to MP Bogan, Michael Lee, and later, Terrance D'Ambrosio, Director of Imaging Services, would join us. In an examination room, the scrapbook was carefully opened and several pages were turned and contents examined. Questions were asked and answered. The elevation map was taken to a separate examination room, in case there was mold contaminates that might become airborne when the map was examined. The scrapbook and the map were handled and examined as the precious, fragile, significant artifacts that they are. 

     Written reports on the current condition and the options for conservation and digitizing would be forwarded to us in a few weeks. On May 24, 2018, we were in receipt of said reports for both items.

Northeast Document Conservation Center
(NEDCC) PLI Scrapbook Current
Condition Report and  Recommended
Conservation Treatment Plan Pg. 1

Northeast Document Conservation Center
(NEDCC) PLI Scrapbook Current
Condition Report and  Recommended
Conservation Treatment Plan Pg. 2

Northeast Document Conservation Center
(NEDCC) PLI Scrapbook Current
Condition Report and  Recommended
Conservation Treatment Plan - Pg. 4
(Photography & Digitizing Options) 

Northeast Document Conservation Center
(NEDCC) PLI Scrapbook Current
Condition Report and  Recommended
Conservation Treatment Plan - Pg. 5
(Photography & Digitizing Options)

     A little background on the PLI Elevation/grade map prior to seeing the NEDCC report. In November 2017, I had an exciting opportunity to travel to Lewiston (ME) to visit Paul Libbey. Paul is a grandson of W. S. Libbey, the builder of the Portland-Lewiston Interurban. Paul is a young nonagenarian and still goes to work at a mill that his grandfather first acquired in 1888. The name of the mill has changed, but it is still in the family. Harold Libbey, Paul's uncle, created the PLI elevation/grade map. Sadly, Harold contracted the flu during the pandemic and passed away in 1919.

Harold's gang refers to Mrs. Helen C. Libbey's husband,
Harold S. Libbey, son of W. S. Libbey. Mrs. Libbey is
seen here in the upper right with daughter, Eleanor. The Libbey
family would camp out along the route during its construction.
Harold, who graduated from MIT, would write letters
to his father with updates on the progress. Harold
also created maps with precise measurements of
elevations and grade of the line. Image from the
Portland-Lewiston Interurban Employees Scrapbook which
is among the collection of the NEERHS Library.

Street view via Google Earth of the Scotia Company on Lincoln Street
in Lewiston (ME). This is where I met Paul Libbey and his son Mark.
Paul's grandfather, W. S. Libbey, bought this building in 1888, along with
what was then the Cumberland Woolen Mill business operation.

Paul Libbey was a most gracious host. He gave me a tour
of the mill operation and spent the time to talk with me
about the mill business, and his grandfather's keen business
sense of timing. I so very much enjoyed my visit.
Paul was very kind and made a gift to the Museum of the
original  PLI map showing the various elevations and
grade of the line that his uncle Harold had created
during the construction of the line 1910-1914.
PWM photo

Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) PLI Elevation Map
Current Condition Report and  Recommended
Conservation Treatment Plan - Pg. 1

Northeast Document Conservation Center (NEDCC) PLI Elevation Map
Current Condition Report and  Recommended
Conservation Treatment Plan - Pg. 2
(Photography & Digitizing Options) 

     These estimates for conserving and digitizing the scrapbook and the map will be extremely useful as we seek funding through donors and applications to grantors. We are so very fortunate to have these items. The right thing to do is professionally conserve them. Having quality digital images from the items to work with in developing the interpretation programs for the Narcissus Project is very exciting. Additional materials that may be useful in developing the interpretation programs will be forthcoming from the identification of those materials as the digital bibliography is made available.

Click on: "Teddy Roosevelt, Millie, and the Elegant Ride," to learn about the young reader historical fiction chapter book due for release this fall. Proceeds will benefit the Narcissus Project :)

Please Consider a Donation to the Narcissus Project
to help us tell the incredible story of the Narcissus through the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project.
Thank You

   Inside the Donald G. Curry Town House Restoration Shop, the Narcissus is in the midst of major work as we strive to complete its restoration. With our estimate to have the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Narcissus in the fall of 2021, we are now planning the interpretation portion of the Narcissus Project. Donations to the Narcissus Project may be used in the future to help tell the incredible 100-plus-year-old story of the Narcissus. Your donation to the Narcissus is helping to make the dream of the project's success, a reality.

The 2015 publication of, The Illustrated Atlas
of Maine's Street & Electric Railways
1863-1946, was published by the Library
at Seashore Trolley Museum, Kennebunkport.
Copies are available for purchase from the

Seashore Trolley Museum, - Museum of Mass Transit, is celebrating its 80th Birthday year in 2019! 
Special Events are scheduled  - Public operations start on May 4, 2019. 
Click Here for the 2019 Events & Special Activities for the 80th Anniversary Season, with hot links

Click Here for 2019 Special Events 

Click Here for 80th Anniversary Year - Seashore Trolley Museum 1939-2019 post
Click Here for the post - 80th Anniversary Year -A Look Back at the 50s - Seashore Trolley Mus.
Click Here for the post - 80th Anniversary Year - A Look Back at the 60s  - Seashore Trolley Mus.
Click Here for the post - 80th Anniversary Year -A Look Back at the '70s - Seashore Trolley Mus.
Click Here for The Birth of Seashore Trolley Museum Blog Post
Click Here for STM's Ten National Register of Historic Places Electric Railway Vehicles post
Click Here for 1901 Tower C Boston Elevated Railway to STM in 1975
Click Here for No. 38 - 1906 Manchester & Nashua Street Railway - Acquired March 21, 1940
Click Here for No. 60 - 1895 Manchester Street Railway - Acquired April 11, 1941
Click Here for No. 4387 - 1918 Eastern Mass. Street Railway - Acquired August 29, 1946
Click Here for No. 100 - 1906 Atlantic Shore Line Railway - Acquired 1949
Click Here for No. 108 - 1904 Portsmouth, Dover & York Street Railway - Acquired 1949
Click Here for No. 14 Narcissus 1912 Portland-Lewiston Interurban - Acquired 1969

See below for Donation options -

It starts with YOU
Your Donation Matters
Make a Donation TODAY

Please Help the Narcissus. 

Donation Options to Help the Narcissus Project:

The New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
is the 501c3 organization that owns and operates the Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, ME and the National Streetcar
The NEERHS is registered with the IRS (EIN# 01-0244457) and was incorporated in Maine in 1941.

Check or Money Order ***** should be made payable to:
New England Electric Railway Historical Society (NEERHS)
In the memo please write: Narcissus Fund 816-A
Mail to: Seashore Trolley Museum
              P. O. Box A
              Kennebunkport, ME 04046

Credit Card ***** donations can be a one-time donation or you
may choose to have a specific amount charged to your card
automatically on a monthly basis. Please contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5.

Online Donations - may be made by using a Credit Card: 
Click Here to make an online donation through the Museum's website - When at the Donation page: Fill in donor info, etc., when at "To which fund are you donating? Scroll down to "Other" and type in: 816-A Narcissus, then continue on filling in the required information.

Click Here for PayPal - to make an online donation: you can use email: and in the message box write:
For Narcissus fund 816-A

Donation of Securities ***** We also accept donations of
securities. You can contact the Museum bookkeeper, Connie, via email at or by phone, 207-967-2712 ext. 5,
for brokerage account information for accepting donated securities.

BONUS ***** If you work for a company/corporation that will
"match" an employee's donation to an approved 501c3 non-profit
educational organization, please be sure to complete the necessary paperwork with your employer so that your donation is matched :)

Questions? ***** Please contact Narcissus project manager:
Phil Morse, or call 207-985-9723 - cell.

Thank You :)

Thank You for our Current Funding Partners
20th Century Electric Railway Foundation - 2018 - Major Gift, 2017/2014 Matching Grants
Mass Bay RRE - 2018 Railroad Preservation Grant 
Thornton Academy (Saco, ME) - Staff & Alumni - Matching Grant Challenge 2014
New England Electric Railway Historical Society (Kennebunkport, ME) - Member Donations
Amherst Railway Society - 2015 Heritage Grant
National Railway Historical Society - 2016 & 2015 Heritage Preservation Grants
Enterprise Holding Foundation - 2015 Community Grant
Theodore Roosevelt Association - Member Donations
John Libby Family Association and Member Donations
* The Conley Family - In Memory of Scott Libbey 2018/2017/2016/2015
* The W. S. Libbey Family - Awalt, Conley, Graf, Holman, Libbey, McAvoy, McLaughlin, Meldrum, O'Halloran, Salto, - 2018/2017
* The Hughes Family 2017/2016/2010
New Gloucester Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Historical Society and Member Donations
Gray Public Library Association - Pat Barter Speaker Series
* LogMein - Matching Employee Donation
* IBM - Matching Employee/Retiree Donations
* Fidelity Charitable Grant - Matching Employee Donations
* Richard E. Erwin Grant - 2017/2016

The Narcissus, with interior back-lit, stained glass windows are majestic.
Make a donation today to help restore the interior of this Maine gem.
Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track! Once restored,
you will be able to ride in luxury on this National Register Treasure at
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.
PWM photo

Please Consider Making a Donation to the project of the National Register of Historic Places member, Narcissus. We are currently raising funds to tell the incredible story of this Maine gem.

Various News stories during the summer of 2015 about the
Narcissus and its connection to Theodore Roosevelt. TR
was a passenger on the Narcissus on August 18, 1914.

Click Here to See the list of All Previous Blog Posts - Index

The Narcissus - July 31, 2015. Make a donation today.
Help Theodore Roosevelt's Maine Ride get back on track!
Once restored, you will be able to ride in luxury on this
Seashore Trolley Museum in Kennebunkport, Maine.

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