Dr. Moses Mason Library Replica

The Museums of the Bethel Historical Society have received the gift of a 16-by-20 foot timber frame to replicate the circa 1837 private library erected by Dr. Moses Mason (1789-1866) upon his return to Bethel from two terms as a U.S. Congressman. A public “raising” of this traditional wood-frame structure, generously donated in honor of past-president Trijntje “Tineke” Zwolsman Ouwinga by J. Scott Campbell of Maine Mountain Post & Beam in Fryeburg, took place on July 7, 2018, during the Bethel Art Fair.

Siting of the replica library building, which incorporates framing methods typical of the first half of the 19th century and earlier, is based on an 1858 village map, a rare 1874 stereoview photo, and evidence gathered during a May 2013 archaeological study by Gould Academy students under the supervision of MBHS member Norm Buttrick. Historical records and photographs suggest that the original library existed at least until the winter of 1896-1897. Left unfinished on the interior so that the timber frame can be examined and enjoyed, the replica will provide space for a variety of children’s activities, lectures, exhibits, and craft demonstrations.

To add to the significance of this project, the family of the late Roxanne Twitchell Sly, a life member of MBHS and descendant of some of Bethel’s earliest settlers, have provided funding to complete the exterior of the building in the manner of the original. In exchange for their support, the replica library will be known as the “Twitchell Education Center”—honoring the memory of their mother and recognizing the important role played by the Twitchell family of Sherborn, Massachusetts, and Dublin, New Hampshire, in the founding and early settlement of Bethel. To J. Scott Campbell of Maine Mountain Post & Beam, and to the family of Roxanne Twitchell Sly, we extend our heartfelt thanks for their generosity in returning an important structure to Bethel’s National Register Historic District.