2015-08-21 / Community

Museum to host monument rededication

By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer

A rededication ceremony for the Richard Vines Monument in Biddeford will be held to commemorate Capt. Richard Vines and 32 other men, who were the first known colonial explorers to have survived a winter (1616 to 1617) in the American Northeast.

Although the monument, which is listed in the Maine Register of Historic Places, is located at 56 Bridge Road in Biddeford, the rededication ceremony will be held at the Brick Store Museum at 117 Main St. in Kennebunk at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 22.

The museum is owned by Edith Cleaves Barry, who is the niece of William Barry, the man who built the monument in 1912. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

The monument sits on a small parcel of land in the area of Leighton’s Point at Biddeford Pool. The parcel was bequeathed by William Barry upon his death in 1932 to the Rebecca Emery Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, under the condition that the monument never be relocated. Barry had marked the land as the location of the first cabin Vines and his men built in the settlement.

“It kind of faces in an odd direction because of how windy it is,” said Leigh Olson, the chapter’s historian. “Barry wanted the monument to face the same direction as the cabin would be.”

Barry, a Kennebunk man who lived from 1846 to 1932, was an author and historian who marked historical sites with monuments as a hobby. Olson said Barry marked about a half dozen historical sites throughout York County.

While the rededication ceremony commemorates Vines, it will also pay tribute to Barry, said Olson. Guest speaker Christi Mitchell, an architectural historian for the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, will give a presentation about Barry’s life.

“His contributions in the fields of art, architecture, literature, historic preservation and history have traditionally formed the basis for much of what is known about the colonial era in the towns of Wells, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Biddeford,” Mitchell said about Barry in a press release.

“There is also a lot of history about Barry at the museum,” Olson said.

The monument, said Olson, is a large granite stone, “a really big rock, a big tall rock,” with a bronze tablet attached to it. Olson said the monument suffered some vandalism in the 1930s, including damage from bullet holes.

“Over time, it started to crack and we had to do something about it,” Olson said.

The Rebecca Emery Chapter sent the plaque to Boston to be professionally restored and then returned it to its place on the granite monument.

Olson said Vines was sent by Sir Ferdinando Gorges to explore the possibility of surviving a harsh winter at the peninsula of Biddeford Pool. Vines and his crew survived the winter and returned to England without any loss of lives.

Olson said the settlement at Biddeford Pool, known at the time as Winter Harbor, predates the arrival of the Mayflower ship to Plymouth Rock.

“Sir Ferdinando Gorges had the mon- ey — he was the governor of Maine at the time — in the year 1616 to see, can a European survive a winter in Maine,” Olson said. “They failed at Popham Beach (in 1607 to 1608). They beat us to the first settlement (at Popham Beach) but they didn’t survive the winter … It’s right here in our own backyard. I guess they didn’t have good PR at the time.”

Olson said Mitchell is working with the Rebecca Emery Chapter to get the Capt. Vines Monument registered on the National Register of Historic Places. It is likely, said Olson, that all of Barry’s monuments will get submitted for consideration in the same application.

Want to comment on this story? Login to our website at www.kennebunkpost.com and let us know your thoughts.

Return to top