Fall Newsletter 2019

Hello from the Thomas Ruggles House on a nice day in September (now suddenly it’s October).  Maine is at its best now, as the leaves display their vibrant colors of autumn. We held our our fall Society meeting last Saturday and our next event will be our annual Tea.  The Christmas Tea will be Sunday, Dec. 8th, 1 to 3 and will be an open house with our special teas served and mulled cider, also. We offer our guests some special goodies to compliment our tea.  Come and hear live seasonal music.  The House is decorated as it might have been in the 1800’s with live evergreens and appropriate bows and a tree.  You will enjoy our holiday spirit. We love entertaining our guests in this gorgeous house. There will be a $5.00 admission fee for this event.

We treasure our older members for their knowledge and past participation.  Richard Grant is the oldest serving member of our Board. What a joy he has been and his contribution to Ruggles House would fill one page of this newsletter.  We have one Board Member who is a direct descendant of Thomas and Ruth Ruggles, Robert Brown. The Ruggles’ youngest surviving daughter, Lucy Ruggles Brown, was a several times great-grandmother of Bob.

The following segment was included in last fall’s newsletter and is still in force.

 “We’ve mentioned in the last several newsletters that we were hopeful of having an outbuilding, of some early design, on the property. We need to have more space for all the reasons mentioned before. We are still in the planning stage, with some fund-raising done, to have a barn/carriage house building to improve our museum. It’s our “good news” that we have another idea for getting that outbuilding.  We are exploring acquiring an early post and beam barn frame. Throughout the northeastern part of the U.S., these old barns are being dismantled and sold to be reused in a new location.  The larger ones are usually used for new housing, but the smaller ones can be reused as barns.  These are harder to sell as the need for barns is not as great. It’s perfect for us because we do not want a large barn. Our property will not accommodate a larger building. We have some good prospects and hope this venture comes to fruition. We’ll keep the news coming in our newsletters.”

We are in the process of costing out a barn.  Wish us luck!!

Would you like to help us solve a mystery?  These old houses often have more unanswered questions than answered ones.  With research we are sometimes able to get an answer.  Are these two portraits the same lady? Here’s the story so far.

One afternoon several years ago, while serving as a docent at the House, I welcomed a gentleman and his adult son.  He came in and told me this story.  He had an article that his family had owned for 40 years and thought it was time to return it to the Ruggles House.  It had belonged to his late wife and she had been given it as a gift from a neighbor in the town of Dennysville, where they still owned the old family home. The neighbor had said that she found it in an antique shop in Machias and was told that it was one of the Ruggles girls. Did I want to see it?

Anything belonging to the Ruggles family is a special find.  “Yes” indeed!!!!

He fetched from his car a very ornate framed large portrait of a young girl, obviously a charcoal drawing on paper.  He pointed out that it had E. Ruggles printed in the lace on one sleeve of her dress.  A Lizzie Ruggles original, there was no doubt of its authenticity.  He wanted nothing for it and was glad to give it back to us.  I thanked him as sincerely as I could. The father and son left.  It is not unusual for us to find Ruggles items that had left the family for many reasons.  We are very fortunate to get any of them back.

The “upper” picture. A great find just on its own.

On examining the frame I discovered that the drawing was held in the frame with an artist canvas.  Strange! – Because the Ruggles girls, both artists, never used artist canvas.  They used paper because canvas was beyond their means.  Two rusty nails loosely held the canvas in place. I easily pulled them out.  To my surprise, another portrait, which appeared to be charcoal, was drawn on the canvas. Lizzie’s portrait was on top of this one. Who was this young woman?  Had Lizzie put her portrait on top of this one?  Was this family?  I knew we had three daguerreotypes (photos) of family in the drawer of the small desk upstairs.  These had always been Ruggles items.  One was a photo of Emily and Lizzie Ruggles as children. Another was said to be the girls’ mother, Caroline Bucknam Ruggles.  The other of a young teenage girl will be our next mystery because it was not identified. 

Photos have been made of the two images of the woman, one young and one older.

Our question is, “Are these images of the same woman?” The photo on the right is the daguerreotype of the older woman, Caroline Ruggles.  The photo on the left is the drawing found under the framed drawing of Lizzie. We’d like your opinion. Call us, visit our Facebook page, or email us at etenan@ruggleshouse,org.


We’ll leave you with an old Maine saying.  “Mull it over and decide.”


We’d love to see you at the Tea or next summer for a visit.  

Ellen Tenan, Historian


Photo credits: Emily Tenan Lilienthal

Visitors from Far and Wide

We are three weeks into the season and attendance has been up over last year! We are thrilled to meet people from all over the country (and the world). I thought it would be fun to see where the folks who have signed the guest book are from and who has traveled the farthest.

Week 1: We had visitors from Carson City, NV. that’s 3202 miles by car.

Week 2: Our guests from Fredericksburg Texas traveled 2325 miles for the visit

Week 3: This was our international week. Visitors from Montreal Canada (a mere 354 miles by car) and the long distance winners this week from London UK traveled 3046 miles (by plane we must suppose).

Lets see where the other guest hailed from:

There are still plenty of states to go, so come visit the Ruggles House.

And don’t forget The Ice Cream Social is Sunday July 9 from 1-3. The house is open for free tours and there is free ice cream for everyone. Hope to see you there.

Back in the swing of things…

Getting back in the swing of things as the Ruggles House begins its 67th season. Yes! The house first opened its doors to visitors in 1950. And, we are rapidly approaching the 200th anniversary of the house being built. Over the years there have been some big projects undertaken by the Ruggles House Society. The largest had to be the reconstruction of the ell at the back of the house.

We are beginning another big project; the re-creation of a carriage house that once stood on the property. Archeologists found a stone foundation and we plan to erect a simple post-and-beam building on that site. The carriage house will allow us to expand our display space as well as hold events, meetings, do demonstrations.

It is moving past the “wishful thinking” stage and into the serious planning and fundraising stages. Stay tuned and keep your eyes right here to track our progress to the goal.

And of course, if you want to help raise the line on that thermometer, we would be grateful for your support. Just click on the PayPal button to donate quickly and securely.

Getting ready for the party!

Friday was a flurry of activity as the local garden club members dressed the house in holiday greenery to get ready for the Christmas Tea on Sunday. Thank you to Worcester Wreath company for their donation of wreaths and other greenery. So much was going on no one had time to get pictures… oops. You will just have to come to see their work in person. Tea will be served from 1-4pm.

Stephen Sanfilippo

And something new this year, music will be provided by Stephen and Susan Sanfilippo. They will be performing traditional Songs of the Sea, and of the Colonial, Revolutionary and Early American periods.

Hope to see lots of friends at the Ruggles House on Sunday.

Welcome to the Holidays


Formal Parlor fireplace
The Ruggles house gets dressed up for the holidays at the annual Christmas Tea

The Ruggles House invites you to the annual Christmas Tea, Sunday, Dec. 8 from 1-4 p.m. . Join us for tea, mulled cider and homemade baked goods along with live music and holiday cheer. The house, including the famous flying staircase, will be decorated in period style for the holidays. Find unique gifts for friends and family, including the “Ruggles House” book in the gift shop. Tea will be served by Teas of Cherryfield and live music will be provided by Cole Creek. Admission is $3.00


Happy Birthday Deliverance

Birthday Cake

Today we celebrate the 278th birthday of Deliverance Barrows Ruggles. Thomas Ruggles’ mother must have been quite a woman. She married Captain Nathaniel Ruggles in 1752 and had eight children, seven who lived to maturity. Her husband died in December 1776, just as the Revolutionary War broke out, leaving her with five sons and two daughters ranging in age from 21 to 4. Thomas was only six years old at the time. Her oldest son Nathaniel Jr. settled in Newport Rhode Island and became a successful merchant. Elisha remained in Rochester, Massachusetts and served in the state legislature.

Deliverance Ruggles

This portrait is believed to be Deliverance. It was the only oil painting in the house when Lizzie died and the manner of dress would be appropriate to the age and time period for Thomas’ mother. When you see the picture in person, you can’t help notice how her eyes follow you all over the room. You have to believe that no one ever gave Grandma Ruggles any guff.

She died in February 1807 at the age of 72.

>A major purchase (Sept 27)

>September 27, 1797… Thomas Ruggles’ first recorded land purchase in Maine.  He purchased 100 acres with a dwelling house, barn and outbuildings for $750.  A year later, September 1798,  Thomas and his brother Benjamin jointly purchased a dwelling house, work house and half a barn for $150. The house may have served as the first home of Thomas Ruggles.