I recently revisited with the Heritage Museum Committee and most of the appointed volunteer members I met five seasons ago were again present - a tribute to the dedication of this 10-member town committee. Over those years the amount of visitors and programs they and their "Friends" have developed has grown, as has the cultural trappings they have collected, preserved and protected for posterity.

The museum has also grown its season. For the first time it will be open through September and October, hoping that the local community will consider a visit during the slower-paced October week days.

At the meeting, some challenges to the museum were highlighted by member Peter Woodbury: “If we invite many more people we’ll have to have a little bit bigger parking lot (there are only a few spaces now) or a better system with the (Obeds) parking lot instead of $20. You can’t park a bus (for visitors to the museum). If they want to go to the park they can’t park in the museum lot and it costs a lot of money to park in the Obeds lot.”

Another issue that greatly inhibits their success is the fact the museum has a very small window from a secondary road and has been only allowed signage that is simply inadequate for its purpose.

But all the discussions regarding improvements doesn’t apply to October nor does it answer the main question: What makes the Heritage Museum a place that someone should take the time to visit?

I found my answer when I took a tour of the museum with long term committee members Carole Lee Carroll, Eva Nudelman and the newly hired staff member, Charlotte Tragard.

Carole Lee began the tour with an exhibit depicting a Cove fisherman’s shack as it was years ago. “These wonderful fishermen have been bringing in artifacts; hand-made anchors they used to make, fish scales, buoys, branding irons for the lobster buoys. It’s all very old. Every now and then somebody from the Cove comes in with a whole new set of strange things.” She points to displayed photos. “These were the characters in the Cove…there were quite a few of them. They’re legendary, all older gentleman from another era. They were all very well known.”

On display are Cove photos dating back to 1909 showing Hamilton Easter Field’s expansion of the Adams’ House and renaming it the Island House. That photo is accompanied by a view of the causeway he had built to connect Adams Island to the mainland.

Carole Lee told stories that were priceless - one about a shack rented by the well known artist Bernard Karfiol, who wrote of a beam in the shack that was autographed by Presidential candidate Stephen A. Douglas in 1860 from the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Yep it’s there, I saw it! Who knew?

Documents and agreements regarding the taking of the Main Beach by eminent domain and the leaving of some property in private ownership are on hand; wonderful photos taken by Florence Hill Whittier between 1887-1889 are striking; the history of the Cove, the dredges, the bridges built, the buildings and the filling of marsh areas to create parking lots are all exhibited both in photos and in videos.

Then there’s the native inhabitants exhibit. Included are artifacts from the French and Indian War, magnificently woven sweetgrass baskets, handmade beaded ceremonial cuffs and more stories.

Many of Ogunquit’s historic restaurants and hotels are recognized and more engaging stories and photos of what once was in the spaces of what now is. Then there’s the arts.

I found this enriching experience deepened my appreciation for this wonderful place we call Ogunquit. Even if our local history is housed in a place out of sight and perhaps out of mind - a hidden jewel - it is easily uncovered by anyone who cares to embrace it.