The North Haven Historical Society has been offered a Challenge Grant by The National Endowment for the Humanities to help in funding a new Archives Building. This very prestigious award is a 3:1 matching gift opportunity, one of only two challenge grants awarded in the state of Maine and only several dozen across the nation.

The NEH grant is for $60,000 and the Society must raise, from non-federal donors, three times that amount, or $180,000. Donors have already contributed a significant amount to the building project and many of those contributions will count toward the match. The donations must be in support of the NEH grant and explicitly for the new building. It is hoped that this new offering from NEH will be an incentive for increased contributions.

The Davis Family Foundation recently announced a grant of $15,000, which was greeted with enthusiasm and gratitude. It will greatly help the Society obtain its $180,000 match and move toward its overall goal of $350,000 to construct the building.

A vote of the Town Meeting 25 years ago gave the Society permission to refurbish and occupy a room in the Town Office Building. Selectmen have continued to honor that vote and materials have been cared for in that room and a reference library established. Because of increasing responsibilities that have been imposed on all communities, expanding staff, the need for a meeting room, and a storage problem, the Board of Selectmen felt the Town could no longer continue this arrangement and the Society has been asked to vacate the room. The Selectmen’s request greatly accelerated the Society’s plans, and a capital campaign was initiated last year.

The Archives Building will be constructed according to standards for archival safe buildings and therefore, although more expensive, will serve to record and preserve the island’s history for generations to come. It will house historical photographs of the island and the surrounding area, census data, art, maps, documents relating to island people, their trades and transportation, and other records given to the Society. It will have a library/meeting room where an impressive collection of books pertinent to island history, professional periodicals, local publications, genealogical reference books, and town reports will all be made more accessible.

As of this date, the real challenge for the Society is to obtain another $100,000, which will not only complete the match for the NEH grant but will also reach the Society’s capital campaign goal of $350,000 for the construction of the building.

Contributions are most welcome and should be sent to Doreen Cabot, Treasurer; North Haven Historical Society; P.O. Box 322; North Haven, ME 04853. Because of this NEH grant, any gift, large or small, will increase in value by one-third. Gifts from individuals, businesses, and foundations are eligible for the match. Information for contributions of securities is also available.

Helen Popp is president of the North Haven Historical Society.