Farnsworth Homestead, Rockland

The Farnsworth Homestead was built in 1850 for Rockland businessman William Alden Farnsworth and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The elegant two-story, twelve-room Greek Revival structure was home to his wife and six children including Lucy Copeland Farnsworth, whose bequest upon her death in 1935 at the age of 97 founded the Farnsworth Art Museum.  

The house was virtually unchanged from the time of William’s death in 1876, and many of its original furnishings – wallpapers, carpets, curtains, and other items for everyday use remain, including gas lighting fixtures, a state-of-the-art coal-fired hot water heater, and plumbing fixtures.  Lucy Farnsworth stipulated in her will that her home be open to the public, and required that it should remain as it was when occupied by her family.  Exhibiting great foresight, she believed that preservation of the homestead, which was already historic during her lifetime, would be of educational value to the public.

In 2011, the museum began the first phase of a multi-year restoration and interpretation project at the Homestead.

A comprehensive mold remediation treatment was carried out in the basement by Air Quality Management Services, Inc. of Gray, Maine.  McElreavy Roofing of Warren, Maine replaced the asphalt roof with Class B fire retardant treated red cedar shingles, replicating the materials and dimensions of the original roof.

In spring and summer 2013, North American Painting Company repainted the exterior. All previous paint layers were removed, and Aaron Sturgis of Preservation Timber Framing [a member of the board of Maine Preservation], removed and replaced damaged siding.

Preservation architects Jill and Robert Burley of The Burley Partnership examined the interior finishes and coverings, along with textile conservator, Camille Breeze.  Their work was funded in part by a grant from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  

Chief Curator Michael Komanecky and Assistant Curator Jane Bianco led a thorough inventory of the house’s contents.

David Barquist, Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, was hired to help develop a more historically accurate furnishing plan.  

Historic carpet specialist John R. Burrows of Rockland, Massachusetts was hired to advise on Homestead carpets and painting conservator Nina Roth-Wells of Georgetown, Maine exposed and cleaned an original c. 1850 oilcloth discovered beneath 1870s carpeting in the entry hall.

The Homestead is back open to the public. The exterior closely replicates the home the Farnsworths moved into in 1850, while the interior reveals a more historically accurate furnishing plan, with only objects associated with the family on view.  In addition, the Carriage House has been included in public tours for the first time and tour guides have expanded their interpretation based on a revamped, extensive training program.

For their outstanding and careful work and commitment to restoring the Farnsworth Homestead, Maine Preservation is pleased to present the Farnsworth Art Museum and the Homestead project team with a 2014 Honor Award for Restoration.