The Ellsworth Historical Society
The Ellsworth Historical Society evolved from a meeting held in 1978 of interested members of the community to save and protect our history. An item in the Ellsworth American invited those interested in forming a local historical society to meet at the First Congregational Church. The attendees decided to meet again and the first meeting of the Historical Society was held on May 22, 1978.
Since that time the society has been collecting the history and memorabilia of Ellsworth and serving the local community in preserving and sharing our local history through exhibitions and local outreach.
The Society and the Ellsworth Historic Preservation Commission joined forces to preserve the Old County Jail from demolition in 1980 and after working with the County Commissioners office an agreement was made that the building was a fitting place for the society and in 1980 a lease was signed that allowed the society to finally have a home. The first meeting was held in the Old County Jail in June 1981. The building was officially transferred to the society with the signing of the deed in 1998.
Restoration of the interior of the building started at once and with local help from area businesses, groups, and concerned citizen’s work began to restore the interior of the beautiful brick Queen Anne Revival Building that was built in 1886. The building now houses the society’s collection of Ellsworth history, with displays and changing exhibits from the society’s collections. The museum is open on Thursdays and Saturdays in July and August free of charge.
In 2008 the building was named to the National Registry of Historic Places. The announcement was made by Earle Shuttleworth Jr., President of the Maine Historic Commission which submitted the nomination. The front of the building was a former residence for the jail warden and his family, and the back contains 14 small cells on two floors. A dividing wall between the two sections once allowed the warden to monitor inmates through two small wickets that are still in place today.