Preserving the best of the past

Jun 9, 2019

MARION — With a months-long renovation project behind them, the Sippican Historical Society and Marion General Store held a celebration of their efforts to preserve the historic General Store building on June 9.

Renovations on the building started in February, and the business reopened to the public with new roofs, floors, insulation, seating and a handicap access ramp in May.

“This [project] couldn’t have happened without the efforts of the Sippican Historical Society. We wanted to show that it is something that is vital and is active in protecting the best of Marion,” said William Tifft, a member of the committee that organized the June celebration.

Helenka Nolan, Leslie Piper and Robin Shields of the Sippican Historical Society and Whitney Cheney Wynne, daughter of the current store owner Jack Cheney, all served on the committee.

The building started as a church when it was constructed in 1799. Over the years it served as a religious spot, town meeting place and eventually housed a series of businesses, including a hat shop, barber shop and watch repair shop

Though the building’s purpose changed, it has long been part of the center of Marion life. For Tifft, it was important to “celebrate the fact that this has been saved, and not just as a museum, as a real living part of people’s day to day lives.”

When it came to celebrating the General Store, the committee turned to those who had helped to restore it, and to others. The project’s architect, Will Saltonstall, general contractor, Lars Olson and electrician, Mark Farrell, all served as sponsors for the event.

So did many local businesses, including  Sperry Sails, American Research & Management Co., Kool Kone and Burr Brothers Boatyard.

Other community groups, like the Sippican School Band, Marion Art Center, Elizabeth Taber Library and Celebrate Elizabeth Taber Committe also had booths at the celebration, along with food trucks and bouncy house.

The Historical Society also hosted a special exhibit on the Marion General Store and its history, curated by Piper. Tifft said he was very pleased at the number of people that came through the museum, and that volunteers there were almost overwhelmed by great questions and interest

Ultimately, the event was “about preserving the best of the past in a way that makes the present better and will be there for the future,” Tifft said.