Philanthropist Charles Butt pledges $150k to the MDI Historical Society

MOUNT DESERT – Long-time summer resident and philanthropist Charles Butt has pledged $150,000 over a three-year period to fund major renovations and improvements to the Mount Desert Island Historical Society’s Somesville campus.

The campus includes the 1780 selectmen’s building, Thaddeus Shepley Somes Memorial Bridge, Somesville Museum, Louisa Vaughan Conrad Garden and the Heirloom Garden.

The campus, with its famous footbridge over Somes Brook, is one of the most photographed locations in Maine and occupies a central place in the historic village of Somesville. The funds will be used to install new roofs on the selectman’s building and the Somesville Museum building, renovate the Heirloom Garden and provide new landscaping to improve the safety and beauty of the site. The gift also will help in creating new 2015 exhibits for the selectman’s building as well as exhibits for the Somesville Museum during Acadia National Park’s centennial year in 2016.  A repaved parking area and new signage will improve safety and accessibility for visitors.

In providing the gift, Butt challenged the historical society to extend its efforts in historic preservation throughout Mount Desert Island.  In response, the Society has appointed architects Gerry Vasisko and Roc Caivano to lead a historical preservation working group. Comprised of people from throughout the region, the group will work to increase public awareness of the structures and places that have aesthetic, architectural, historic and cultural significance on the island.

Historical Society Board President Bill Horner said, “Charles Butt’s forward-looking generosity has benefitted several island and area institutions.  We are thrilled to be included in that number.”

The Society keeps, discovers and celebrates the history of Mount Desert Island. For more information, call Tim Garrity at 276-9323, email [email protected] or visit the society’s website at

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