essay contest

Massabesic Student Wins Shaker Museum Essay Contest

Sarah Bouley (center), shown with her family at the contest awards ceremony at the museum last year.

An eighth-grade student at Massabesic Middle School has won the student essay contest sponsored annually by the Friends of Alfred Shaker Museum (FASM). It is her second consecutive win in the contest.

The winner is Sarah Bouley of East Waterboro with her essay titled, “How the Shakers Earned a Living in Alfred”. She will receive a $100 prize and a collectible from FASM. Her essay will become part of the museum’s archive.

Sarah will read her essay in an award ceremony at the museum on its opening day of the new summer season — Saturday, May 13, at 2 p.m. The museum will open to the public at 1 p.m. that day at no charge.

A memorial tribute to the late Shaker Sister Frances Carr of the Sabbathday Lake Shaker community, who died in January, will follow the award ceremony, and then treats will be served.

The judges for the essay contest were Elizabeth DeWolfe, Harland Eastman, and Al Carlson.

The museum will introduce the new season’s exhibit — titled Donations a Museum Make — that same day. New donations to the Shaker Museum, which recently established a dedicated fund for acquisitions, given the high prices commanded by Shaker items on antiquity markets, will be displayed.

The museum also is undertaking an exterior paint job this season which is funded by a grant from the Davis Family Foundation. The work will begin as weather permits and will be performed by Greg Knight of Alfred.

Announcing the 2017 Student Essay Contest

The Alfred Shaker Museum Student Essay Contest is now open for entries! See the contest flyer for the rules.

To submit your essay, visit the Student Essay Contest page.

Deadline for submitting your essay is March 1, 2017 at 5:00 PM. Winners will be announced in early April, and awards will be presented soon thereafter.

FMI or to make arrangements to use the Museum library for research, call Mary Lee Dunn Maguire at 324-7088.

2016 Speakers’ Series Announced

Shaker Museum, Sanford-Springvale Historical Society to Offer New Speakers’ Series

ALFRED – Alfred Shaker Museum and the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society will offer a second year of the Sid Emery Memorial Forum this coming season. It will again be a four-event program that focuses on both Maine history and culture.

The series will begin on May 22. Each event will be held at 1:30 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon at Alfred Shaker Museum and is free to the public though donations will be gratefully accepted. The speakers and their dates are as follows:

May 22: Noble High School student Noah Binette will describe his research on the tragic story of the evictions of 40 legal residents of Malaga Island, off the Maine coast, in 1912. The victims were a poor ethnic community who had little ability to fight for themselves. Some were sent to mental institutions and even the island cemetery was removed. Binette, who will be a high school senior in the fall, has won state and national awards for his account of their story.

Aug. 21: Filmmaker Tonya Shevenell takes up migration issues in The Home Road, her film of her father’s trek for nearly 200 miles from Canada to Biddeford where his father became the first French Canadian immigrant to settle permanently in that Maine community. At age 19, Israel Shevenell made the trip in 1845. The film captures the grit, commitment and persistence of emigrants and immigrants as they made their bid for a better life. It is a timely subject, given the migration struggles that beset the world today.

Oct. 16: Speaker Ron Romano is fascinated by cemeteries and by the life of Bartlett Adams, one of the earliest stonecutters in Portland whose work graces cemeteries all over southern Maine. Romano is a board member of Spirits Alive, the Friends of Portland’s Historic Eastern Cemetery. He guides the interested through summer cemetery tours and his work shows Adams’ products in 133 southern Maine burial grounds. Romano has lectured around the country on this history and his book, Early Gravestones in Southern Maine: The Genius of Bartlett Adams, is to be published in summer 2016.

Oct. 23: Adam Nudd-Homeyer will discuss his craftsmanship, which marries history, woodworking, and metal work. A 7th-generation craftsman at Tappan Chairs in Sandwich, N.H., and an experienced educator, he works with both early historical tools and techniques and modern methods and materials as needed. Under a pact with Maine’s Shakers and Chilton furniture company, his prototype of a Shaker chair originally produced in Alfred’s Shaker village has been selected for reproduction and will be sold to the public by Chilton.

The Speakers’ Series, introduced last year, is named for Sid Emery, a longtime member of both sponsoring organizations who lived in Springvale, had strong ties to Alfred, and died in 2015 at the age of 101.

The sponsors hope to videotape the speakers’ presentations, as was done last year, to build archives for future programming. Last year, both Saco River TV, a public access station, and the Sanford High School video club videotaped the programs, which are available on Alfred Shaker Museum’s web site at

The Shaker Museum formally opens for the season on Saturday, May 14, unveiling a new exhibit on Shaker inventions and awarding top prize in its student essay contest to East Waterboro student Sarah Bouley. She will read her essay, titled “The Causes of Decline of the Shakers in Alfred,” at the ceremony, which is open to the public. Sarah is a seventh grader at Massabesic Middle School and is the daughter of James and Char Bouley of East Waterboro.

As in past years, the museum will be open to visitors on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons from 1 to 4 pm this summer season, coinciding with hours of the town’s museum in the village center. For more programming information, see the museum’s web site at


Sarah Bouley of East Waterboro Wins Shaker Museum Contest

The Friends of Alfred Shaker Museum are pleased to announce that Sarah Bouley of East Waterboro has won its student essay contest this year and a $100 prize and an art print. Sarah is a seventh grader at Massabesic Middle School and is the daughter of James and Char Bouley.

Her essay is titled “The Causes of the Decline of Shakers in Alfred”, one of a choice of seven topics FASM asked entrants to address in their essays. In her conclusion, Sarah wrote, “By the 1900s, the end of the Shaker way of life became evident. Their rigid rules, a changing economy, new and improved technology, and different religious views had led the way to the end of the Shakers. Today there is only a small group of them left here in Lake Sabbathday, Maine. We can’t deny that the Shakers left an unforgettable mark here in our country though, and hopefully we will continue to remember the lasting memory of them here in Alfred, Maine.” Her essay will be archived at the museum.

FASM thanks Elizabeth DeWolfe, Harland Eastman, and Al Carlson, the contest judges for their service.

Sarah will read her essay and receive her award in a ceremony at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, the opening day of the museum’s new season. Treats will be available for guests after the awards presentation. The museum’s seasonal exhibit will also make its first appearance that afternoon. Museum Curator Linda Aaskov chose to focus on Shaker inventions in this season’s presentation. There is no charge for admission though donations are gratefully accepted.

Visitors to the museum may also ask the day’s docent to play any of several videos in its film archive. Among them are museum productions from last year’s speakers series and its video history about Alfred’s Shakers which was designed for all visitors. The collection also includes a range of commercial films about Shakerism.

Museum supporters have not been inactive in the off-season. They held an open house on Maple Sunday, which attracted a number of visitors in groups, and planned a wool sale for Saturday, April 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for fabric artists, including rug braiders and rug hookers.

2016 FASM Student Essay Contest

The 6th annual FASM Student Essay Contest is underway! Students in Grades 7 & 8 and Grades 9 & 10 may submit essays on certain Shaker history-related topics. Prizes of $100 and $75 will be awarded (at the judges’ discretion) for the best essays in each division. Deadline is March 1, 2016 at 12 midnight. See the Student Essay contest page for the complete rules and to upload essays.


Museum Honors Lyman Student as Contest Winner


Benjamin Levesque, center, and his parents, Dan and Kate Levesque of Lyman, checked out Alfred Shaker Museum’s mural of Alfred Shaker Village before Benjamin read his essay on how the Shakers made a living in Alfred. Benjamin’s essay took the prize in the museum’s student essay contest this year. Benjamin is a 7th grader at Massabesic Middle School. His prize? A check for $100 and a framed print of Springvale artist Robert Arsenault’s picture of the meeting house in the Shaker Village on a winter day. The award ceremony on Saturday, May 16, was part of the museum’s opening for the new season. Refreshments followed the award presentation.

Museum Opening This Saturday and Essay Contest Results

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, contact Mary Lee Dunn Maguire at 207-324-7088 or

Museum Curator Linda Aaskov adjusts a display of Shaker cookbooks.

Tabletop display
Tabletop shows typical Shaker kitchen implements.

Alfred Shaker Museum Opens Saturday, Massabesic Pupil Wins Essay Prize

Alfred Shaker Museum opens for the summer season at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. The day’s events include showing a new exhibit on “The Shaker Kitchen” and holding the awards ceremony for its recent student essay contest.

The Friends of Alfred Shaker Museum (FASM) will present prizewinner Benjamin Levesque of Lyman, a seventh-grade student at Massabesic Middle School, a check for $100 and a framed print of a scene on Shaker Hill by artist Bob Arsenault of Springvale. Benjamin also will read his winning essay, titled “How the Shakers Earned a Living in Alfred,” during the ceremony. The ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. Light refreshments will follow. The public is welcomed to attend.

The contest’s judges were Elizabeth DeWolfe, Harland Eastman, and Al Carlson.

Visitors to the museum also may view the “Simple Gifts” video which FASM premiered last year and which tells the history of Alfred’s Shaker community, the first one in Maine. Shakerism arrived in town in the early 1780s. At one time during the 1800s, there were nearly two dozen Shaker villages in the eastern U.S.; now only one remains and sustains the last three Shakers. It too is located in Maine, at Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester. When Alfred’s Shaker village was closed and sold in 1931, its last Shakers — 21 of them — moved to Sabbathday Lake and revitalized that community.

Patrons also may study the large mural in the Morrison Community Room, which artist Sandra Howe of Cornish painted for FASM in 2011. It depicts Alfred’s Shaker village on a summer day in 1875 and captures many of the details that allowed the community to thrive for so long.

The museum’s new exhibit will display Shaker kitchen items, cookbooks, and photographs, and will describe their food ways. In coordination with the exhibit, Curator Linda Aaskov has planned a Shaker meal for the interested public to take place at the museum on Sunday, June 7. Tickets are $25 a person and seating is limited. Tickets are available at the museum or at DeWolfe and Woods Antiquarian Books on the village green in Alfred. The catered meal will be made from authentic Shaker recipes.

The museum shop will be open on May 16 for all of your gift-giving needs.

From now into November, the museum will open to the public on Saturday and Wednesday afternoons from 1 until 4 p.m. or by appointment. See the museum’s web site at

Win a Cash Prize! 5th Annual Student Essay Contest is Open for Entries

The 5th Annual Alfred Shaker Museum Essay Contest is now open for entries. The two winning student essays will each win a cash prize. All the rules and details are below. To open and save a PDF copy of the rules to your computer, click the image below. Don’t forget to save the PDF file to your computer!

Alfred Shaker Museum Student Essay Contest

To enter an essay, visit the Student Essay Contest page at and use the upload link on the page.

Painted Chair Contest Winner!


Congratulations to Sharon Wood of Smithfield, ME, for her winning entry in the Alfred Shaker Museum’s Painted Chair Contest! Sharon won a prize of $100.00. Her chair will be on display in the Museum until the Museum closes for the season in November.

Come see all of the beautiful contest entries in the Museum next weekend at the Shaker Hill Apple Festival!

Contest judges Lucille Hussey of Alfred, Linda Migneault of Alfred, and Sandy Howe of Cornish

Contest judges Lucille Hussey of Alfred, Linda Migneault of Alfred, and Sandy Howe of Cornish

New Season Starts May 17

The 2014 season will open on May 17 at 1 PM with an exhibit titled “Hands to Work, Hearts to God,” a well-known Shaker expression. Each year, FASM develops a new exhibit with items from its collection and with occasional borrowed Shaker artifacts. Museum Curator Linda Aaskov supervises the displays.

Also premiering on Opening Day 2014 is the historical video Simple Gifts: the Shaker Community of Alfred, Maine. Read more about the video and view the trailer here.

On the opening weekend, FASM will also present the prizes to the winners of our Student Essay Contest, now in its fourth year.

FASM is also holding a Painted Chair Contest for patrons who want to try their hands at the decorative arts. The rules and entry forms are located on the Painted Chair Contest page.

FASM has scheduled its annual dinner meeting for Wednesday, June 11, at the Massabesic Lions Den. The meal will be catered.

FASM extends a welcome to all interested in the museum. The group meets once a month on the second Wednesday, at 7 PM.

Museum Hours:

Museum Hours: 1 PM – 4 PM on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and by appointment.

Closing for the season on November 11.

Admission: Free. Donations are gratefully accepted.

We are dog-friendly. Well-behaved dogs on leash are welcome in our building.

Become a Friend of the Alfred Shaker Museum!

FASM meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 PM at the Alfred Shaker Museum. The public is invited to our meetings (unless announced otherwise).

We welcome new members! To join FASM, see our Become a Friend page.

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