Village Voices: Tales of Enterprise and Endurance occupies the historic second-floor hall of the Counting House Museum. The exhibit chronicles 400 years of enterprise in the South Berwick region through the lives of residents who have shaped key trades. The role of ingenuity and adaptation in sustaining work life is a primary focus of the exhibit.
For four centuries, generations of South Berwick residents have sought a connection with the greater world for their livelihood, from shipping lumber to the West Indies in the 1700s to supplying fuel oil from Venezuela today.
Enterprise entails risk--to homeland, habit, property and identity. Those risks have yielded wealth, but also misfortune. Success came through daring, but also endurance.
Stories of six individuals are presented using an array of historic objects, photographs and maps that illustrate South Berwick's economic transformation from 1630 to 2010: sawmilling, agriculture, shipbuilding and maritime trade, shoemaking and leatherworking, textile manufacturing, and small business. The display will be on view permanently.
The ambitious exhibition and related support for the collection were made possible by grants from the Maine Humanities Council, the Davis Family Foundation, the Maine State Museum's New Century Community Program, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, P. Gagnon and Son, South Berwick Strawberry Festival Committee and individual donors.
Drawing on objects owned and used by local residents, curator Nina Maurer developed the Village Voices exhibit, advised by academic historians Emerson Baker, Jeffrey Bolster, and Richard Candee. Local historians Nancy Cook and Bradley Fletcher also contributed as content advisors.
The exhibit is presented in display-storage cases custom made by Salmon Falls Woodworks of South Berwick and designed by Philip H. Kendrick. We are grateful to the Portsmouth Athenaeum, Maine Maritime Museum and Maine Historical Society for collection items they loaned during fall 2010 for temporary display.