Sharing of old photos on social media helping to spark memories, talk of Houlton

HOULTON, Maine — For Janet Vaughn of Houlton, growing up in the community was “lots of fun.”

She fondly recalls the bustling town of her youth, in which the population of Houlton and Aroostook County was “much larger” and Market Square was the thriving heart of the community.

“That place was always packed when I was younger,” she said. “That is where everyone pretty much went to shop and visit and to see movies, especially on the weekends. Even if you didn’t have any money to do anything, you could always go there and spend time with friends. It was wonderful.”

She acknowledged, however, that she can’t remember everything about the Houlton of the past, which is why she is thankful she can access popular social media pages that frequently display historic photographs.

For more than a year, the Facebook page of The Aroostook Historical and Art Museum has shared photographs depicting the history of not only Houlton, but southern Aroostook County as a whole. The images have included such scenes as the interior of stores that dotted the town in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, the 1914 Houlton Fair and The Great Fire of 1902.

Jason Howe, a board member of the Aroostook Historical and Art Museum, teamed with Henry Gartley, another board member, to post a large variety of photographs.

Howe said on the museum has gotten a great response from the community whenever new photos are posted, including countless comments on any memories attached to them. He said that some photographs seem to be more popular than others.

“I think the more current photos from the latter half of the 20th century tend to get the most comments,” he said. “Photos of things like Ricker College and the ice sculptures, the old grandstand in Community Park, the Northland Hotel, and the old neighborhood schools seem to spur many people’s personal memories from growing up in Houlton. It’s a great group to share those memories in.”

At the same time, many community members have been posting pictures and memories on the “You know you grew up in Houlton, Maine if….,” Facebook page, one of several such sites set up to document life in various towns and cities across the state and other parts of the nation.

Jessica Hayes of Houlton said she has enjoyed seeing both sites, and often posts pictures or comments on the photographs she sees.

“You really can learn a lot through both pages,” she said. “I am a big history buff, but I don’t know a lot about local history. It has been eye opening to see how much busier Market Square looked to be in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and to see all of the different stores that once existed in the area. I love to see pictures of the people and the clothing they wore. Everyone dressed so much nicer back then. Everything seemed to be more formal.”

Clyde McCarthy, who now lives in Portland, also enjoys both pages. He said he lived in Houlton for 50 years and recalls hanging out at Woolworth’s in Market Square, buying his wife gifts at Kendall’s Jewelry store and getting groceries with his family at Sampson’s, which was located on the property now occupied by the Houlton Higher Education Center.

“I really appreciate the people who take the time to post the old pictures,” he said. “There are lots of good memories there.”

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