Maine Government News
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry: Benedict Arnold Headquarters to Hold Open House, Sept. 22-23
September 21, 2012
Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
AUGUSTA, Maine – Built in 1765, the Maj. Reuben Colburn House in Pittston is one of Maine’s lesser-known state historic sites managed by the Division of Parks and Public Lands, under the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.
Yet its historic significance as the headquarters for Benedict Arnold’s ill-fated march to Quebec City during the American Revolution surely makes it one of the most important colonial sites in Maine, and possibly the U.S.
This weekend, Sept. 22-23, visitors to the picturesque Kennebec River homestead will have the opportunity to experience colonial life in Maine during an open house scheduled on the 237th anniversary of Col. Benedict Arnold’s arrival at the small farm. Numerous artifacts from Arnold’s trek through the wilds of Maine and the time period – including a 1770s bateau and a 1790s Penobscot birch bark canoe -- will be on display. Revolutionary War re-enactors also will be camped at the site and cooking in the homestead’s original hearth and beehive oven.
As a special feature of the event, American Revolution historian Arthur Lefkowitz of New Jersey, author of four books, including “Benedict Arnold’s Army” and “In the Company of Heroes,” will hold a lecture and book signing.
The details of the open house are:
- Maj. Reuben Colburn House State Historic Site Open House, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 22-23, Route 27, Pittston, 8 miles south of Augusta; lecture and book signing by author Arthur Lefkowitz, 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 23. Free admission.
“Visitors to the open house will be able to take in all the special features of this unique Maine homestead, now 245 years old,” said Tom Desjardin, Parks and Public Lands historian. “The homestead played an important part in the American Revolution and was visited by such notables as Benedict Arnold, Aaron Burr and the Kennebec Valley midwife, Martha Ballard.
“We’ve been able to restore and preserve much of what makes this place unique, including the keeping room in the Federal-style house, and the barn, which was built in the 1840s,” Desjardin said.
The house contains five fireplaces, including the original working beehive oven in the keeping room. The hearth tiles, fireplaces, and much of the woodwork in the house is original to its construction in 1765.
The homestead was owned by the Colburn family until 1941. In the 1840s, Reuben Colburn’s grandson remodeled the home and added an ell, carriage house, and a new barn. The State of Maine acquired the property in 1973.
In 1775, Reuben Colburn was given a down payment by Gen. George Washington of the Continental Army to build 200 bateaux for Arnold’s expedition to Quebec. He had all the boats ready when Arnold arrived at the Colburn House on September 21, 1775.
Colburn’s brother, Oliver, led a group of 42 men who accompanied the expedition through the Maine forest in order to continually repair the bateaux. Arnold’s expedition failed disastrously, and despite repeated efforts, Colburn was never fully paid for his work in building the bateaux. Later, Colburn also was in the lumber business with American patriot and merchant, John Hancock.
For more information about the Maj. Reuben Colburn House, go to: http://www.maine.gov/colburnhouse
For more information about Arnold’s march to Quebec, go to: http://www.arnoldsmarch.com
(photos courtesy of Division of Parks and Public Lands) A docent dressed in colonial period garb poses in front of the Maj. Reuben Colburn House in Pittston. The restored state historic site, once the headquarters for Benedict Arnold’s ill-fated march to Quebec and managed by the Division of Parks and Public Lands, will be open this weekend for an open house.