Pepperell Residents Honored by Maine Preservation

Jean and Reed Holmes, of Peace Valley Farm, Pepperell, were honored on May 5 at Hallowell, Maine, for their preservation of the historic Wentworth House in the Jaffa American Colony of Tel Aviv, Israel. The presenter of the award for Maine Preservation, Trustee Hannah Ostrye, said, "This award is entirely unique and a first for our organization. It reaches across decades, cultures and oceans. In fact, it is our first International Honor Award."

She went on to say, "The story starts down east in Jonesport in 1866, when the 3-masted Nellie Chapin set sail with 35 Christian families consisting of 157 people, and 22 sets of pre-fabricated Maine-made house parts. They were heading east across the Atlantic to build the first neighborhood outside the walled city of Jaffa. They led in developing the land with modern agricultural implements and were responsible for establishing modern group tourism in the Middle East.

"Thanks to the advocacy work of Jean Holmes, a preservationist and construction supervisor, the municipality of Tel Aviv designated the area for preservation. Today, only four and a half of those original pre-fab homes remain in the Jaffa American Colony, and one has received the Preservation Award of the State of Israel." Jean had a hand in that, too, by making arrangements for Mark Haines, of Ashby, to be in charge of rehabilitating the Captain Ackley Norton house which soon became a famous restaurant, the Keren.

Now, this "old house" from Maine has come back to life and Ms. Ostrye continued, "In a miraculous twist, Reed Holmes discovered through the restoration process that this was, in fact, the colonial home of his relatives, the Wentworths. It has been rehabilitated to create an American Heritage Center, known as the Maine Friendship House, which houses a display, research center, and apartment for staff. We are honored to present Dr. Reed and Jean Holmes with a preservation award for their incredible efforts to preserve the Maine Friendship House in Jaffa."

The Holmes couple express their appreciation for the volunteer help of another skilled local resident, Robert Martin of Townsend. Twice he has gone to Jaffa to help in labor and supervision of construction.

For more information, you may contact Jean and Reed at [email protected]

Please send email to [email protected].