CHATHAM — Despite the summer's events and programs being on hold, as they are for many organizations in New Hampshire, the Chatham Historical Society is still busy and thinking of new ways to accomplish its mission: to collect, preserve and research any and all history related to the town of Chatham, and to share this information in an interesting and educational manner.
The former Chatham Center Schoolhouse, which the CHS bought from the town in 2018, has received several improvements in these two short years, including a solid support for the floor, upgraded electrical wiring and a new water line to the old dug well on the Parsonage Lot.
The building has also been added to the New Hampshire Registry of Historic Buildings.
Currently, several volunteers are working from home transcribing historic diaries of past residents of Chatham, scanning the collection of over 2,700 photographs and entering data using the PastPerfect software, and organizing the physical photos in a file system.
Volunteers are checking the several local cemeteries to update the society's records, with the hopes of getting this information onto the CHS website: chathamhistoricalnh.org.
Plans are also underway for “physically distanced” volunteers to paint the schoolhouse.
President Jeanne Eastman says: “While our building is closed, we are still able and happy to help with any research needs people have. We can be contacted through our website, or by phone at (603) 307-0783."
At a recent board meeting, several fun and creative ways were discussed to continue to share Chatham's history with the public.
According to Eastman: “A little research needs to be done as to how a drive-in program would work, but we have some very capable members we can count on to assist us. We will announce our plans as soon as they have been finalized.”
The board was thrilled with the success of the CHS events and fundraisers this past year. Emily Fernald, fundraising chair, admits that “this year will be more challenging, with the restrictions on groups gathering. But I think we can do it. We have an appreciative and generous community.”
Donations to cover regular operating costs can be mailed to the Chatham Historical Society, 1061 Main Road, Chatham, NH 03813.
Board Secretary Ann Fargo hinted at one event that is about to be unveiled.
“Local artists have planned to donate a selected work which we will auction off on Facebook, so that we can continue with our fundraising efforts in a safe way during the pandemic," she said. "Stay tuned while we work on this project.”
In addition, Judy Bailey, chair of the Scholarship Committee, reports: “This May, the society made monetary awards to two Chatham seniors at Fryeburg Academy, Caden Daigle and Matthew Gunther. The students' applications for the award included short essays about their experience growing up in Chatham.”
Treasurer Bev Aiman adds, "We are hoping to add to our scholarship fund so that we can continue to give awards to our Chatham seniors as they graduate.”
According to Eastman, “The Chatham Historical Society remains active!”