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Old Berwick Historical Society - Historical Programs for the public

The Old Berwick Historical Society of South Berwick, Maine, invites you to join us for our history lectures and activities.  For programs at Berwick Academy, we meet in Jeppesen Science Center. Please take Fogg Entrance #2 and use the parking lot at the top of the hill.  For more information, please write This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

April 24, 2014 - Protecting House and Home: Ritual Marks and Shoes in the Wall

Shoes 7:30 pm (Berwick Academy)

Historian Jan Eakins became interested in devices used by early New Englanders to ward off witches when she was director/curator of Fairbanks House, built in Dedham, Massachusetts in 1641. Puritans believed supernatural forces for good and evil shaped their daily lives. To ward off disaster, they placed old shoes in the walls of their houses and barns, hung a horseshoe over the door, or crossed their fingers – practices that continued long after the Puritan religion faded. In a lecture sponsored by the Old Berwick Historical Society, Jan will discuss the role of magic in early New England, and why shoes were believed to have special power to ward off witches. She will offer tips for determining if a “found” shoe was purposefully placed, and what to do if you are fortunate enough to find one. She will end her talk by examining a pair of children’s shoes found in a house in South Berwick. Bring shoes and stories if you have them!

The program will be held on Thursday, April 24, starting at 7:30 pm at Berwick Academy's Jeppesen Science Center on Academy Street.  The public is invited, and volunteers will serve refreshments.  This lecture is one of many bicentennial events to be organized throughout 2014 by the Old Berwick Historical Society and other community organizations.

May 22, 2014 - OBHS Annual Meeting
Burke & Surette7:00 pm (Counting House)

Celebrate South Berwick's 200th Anniversary with our new Bicentennial exhibit, good food and a performance by Susie Burke and David Surette.  One of the finest duos in the New England folk scene, they bring a joyfulness and skill to their blend of contemporary, traditional, and original folk and acoustic music. For OBHS members - new members are welcome.
June 21, 2014 - Bicentennial House Tour - "Circle Great Works Pond"

Benjamin Chadbourne HouseOn Saturday, June 21, the Old Berwick Historical Society will present "Circle the Pond", a house and garden tour, featuring seven private homes in South Berwick, Maine.

August 16, 2014 - Bicentennial Tour of South Berwick Village
Central Sq Trolley11:00 am (South Berwick Village)

Envision the historic downtown, as people knew it in 1814, and tour the special town hall exhibit.  Meet in the post office parking lot on Main Street.  One hour tour.
Sept. 25, 2014 - Chamberlain and Hayes: The Civil War Careers of Two Maine Heroes

Joshua Chamberlain7:30 pm (Berwick Academy) Gen. Joseph Hayes

Brad Fletcher will trace the parallel experiences of the well-known Chamberlain and South Berwick's little know Joseph Hayes.







October 23, 2014 - What We Ate In Berwick and Beyond
Joy family tureen7:30 pm (Berwick Academy)

The shape of modern food habits begins to emerge in the early 1800s, including the order of the menu, and the preparation of dishes we know and love today.  In this talk, Sandy Oliver will explore the life stories of classic Maine dishes enjoyed by Berwick residents from 1814 to 1914 like chowder, baked beans and brown bread, and some that have disappeared (or nearly) like salt fish dinner.
Nov. 20, 2014 - James Sullivan: the Forgotten Founder
James Sullivan7:30 pm (Berwick Academy)

James Sullivan, a son of Old Berwick, was an economic visionary, an early supporter of religious freedom, and by 1807, the first Jeffersonian governor of Massachusetts.  Yet few historians have given him the recognition he deserves.  In this program, Daniel L. Breen will discuss Sullivan's lively and colorful career, and assess his significance in the politics of the early republic.