Sanford-Springvale Historical Museum
By Lawrence Furbish and Harland Eastman
Overheard in the checkout line of a Sanford grocery store: “Museum? What museum?”
Well, yes indeed, our city has the Sanford-Springvale Historical Museum located at 505 Main Street in Springvale. It was built in 1873 as the second Town Hall in Sanford and as a public meeting hall. It served as such until 1908, when the current Town Hall in Sanford opened. It then was used in a number of capacities including a theater, boxing exhibition space, and a youth athletic facility. How it became a museum is an interesting story.
The Sanford Historical Committee was created as a committee of the Town in 1927 to acquire, preserve, and display items of historical significance to Sanford. The Committee’s efforts have resulted in a large collection of artifacts, manuscript materials and printed items representing nearly every facet of our history. The Committee receives an annual appropriation from the City of Sanford for the care of its collections which are now in the new Historical Museum.
The Sanford-Springvale Historical Society was incorporated in 2005 as a 501c3 nonprofit for the purpose of creating a Historical Museum for Sanford and Springvale. It embarked on a fundraising campaign in order to accept the gift of the former Town Hall in Springvale from the Town and restore it for use as a museum. While fundraising was completed in three months, restoration of the building took a year, once title was received in October of 2005. The collections of the Sanford Historical Committee were moved to the newly created museum in the fall of 2006. This historic building is now included in the National Register of Historic Places and, in 2007, won one of Maine Preservation’s coveted awards for the quality of the restoration work.
The Museum holds a vast collection of artifacts, some of which date to the 18th century. The centerpiece of the collection are the glass negatives showing scenes from Sanford’s past, nearly all by Fred Philpot. That collection fills 34 volumes and consists of 1500 glass negatives.
The Museum also houses many historic records and other printed materials, such as local papers and yearbooks. The Town’s reports, records and directories dating back to the late 18th century, as well as records from many local businesses and other organizations are also in the collection. Special exhibits are housed in two of its rooms and are periodically changed to exhibit new materials.
Edmund E. Goodwin House
Photo: Said Eastman
As a bonus, right next to the Museum at 503 Main Street sits the Edmund E. Goodwin House, built in 1899. This beautiful example of a Queen Anne style Victorian was built for Mr. Goodwin, a prominent local merchant and manufacturer. It remained in the family until 2014, when it was sold to the Historical Society. It is furnished with historically appropriate pieces.
The Museum is open to the public from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on Fridays and 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturdays. It is also open for special tours for school children and other groups. The Goodwin House is opened by special arrangement with the Society. You can find more on the Society website here.