Spring: Rebirth and Rejuvenation

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The month starts with the letter A, which means that in the northern hemisphere, people are enjoying spring. It’s a new beginning after we’ve been stuck inside for the winter. The air seems fresher and cleaner. Baseball season is underway, the weather is warming, and thanks to the unprecedented vaccine roll-out, things seem to be heading in the right direction.

At Good Will-Hinckley, a typical spring has always included planting flowers and vegetables, sugaring, preparing our trails and cleaning campus after a long, snowy winter. We’re also normally getting ready for a busy summer of activities. But as everyone knows, the last year has been anything but normal.

This spring, our youth and staff from the Maine Academy of Natural Sciences and the Glenn Stratton Learning Center have been cleaning up campus trails, and groups from both have recently finished a successful maple syrup production season. At the L.C. Bates Museum, volunteers and staff have been busy creating and distributing bird kits, insect kits, leaf kits, history kits and more. Teachers and students are excited about the hands-on activities and games—especially not having to use a computer!

While last year was different than any year in GWH’s long history, we have high hopes that this spring, summer and fall seasons will resemble years past. Our fingers are crossed!

maple sugaring maine

Springtime for George Walter

Our founder, George Walter Hinckley, was a big fan of the time between March and May. According to the Chronicles of Good Will Home, he purchased most of the land for our campus during the spring. And many gifts from donors came in spring, including the generous donation by the Moody sisters in Bath in 1894.

A little more on that donation: When he arrived in Bath, George Walter found two women, Mary and Frances, living in Victorian splendor in a large mansion overlooking the Kennebec River. The previous year, the sisters’ brother, Charles Eckley Moody, took ill and died in Detroit on the way home from the Chicago World’s Fair. The sisters were thought to be languishing in their grief and without a purpose in life.

Then, Mary and Frances remembered their brother speaking fondly of George Walter and the Good Will Home. So, they decided to do something at Good Will in memory of him, and in July 1894, ground was broken for the Charles Eckley Moody School—the $25,000 cost for construction was paid for by the Moody Sisters. The school—the first brick building on Good Will Farm—was dedicated on Jan. 1, 1896.

“It was one of the proudest, happiest days in the life of that devoted, fruitful servant of God, the Rev. George W. Hinckley,” said the Rev. A.T. Dunn during the ceremony.

Clubs, Groups and Mud

The first club ever formed at Good Will, the Good Will Mission Club, was started in the spring of 1890—members included Joe and Harry Jordan and Mason Parker, the school’s original three boys.

In 1896, the new Moody Debating Society was formed, and by 1902, there were two Christian Endeavor societies on campus. In April 1903, a Young Men’s Christian Association was formed, followed by a boys’ department. Years later, in 1910, the Good Will Constant Workers group was formed, and in April 1912, the Wireless Society first met to experiment with new radios. About eight years later, the first Hinckley Grange was created, and George Walter was the group’s first chaplain.

Mud season has been around for hundreds of years in Maine, and at Good Will, it wreaked havoc on the trails and the campus grounds, even before automobiles became prevalent. Local businessman and philanthropist Amos Prescott decided that new roads and pathways were needed to lift Good Will out of the mud each spring.

Prescott put $30,000 into the construction of a driveway from the railroad station to the administration building, then along Page Terrace to Guilford Cottage. There was another road from Whitney Cottage to Buckminster, and he also built a five-foot walk from the train station to Carnegie Library with an extension from the Prescott Memorial to the Bates Museum and Moody School. In all, these were the first modern roads at Good Will.

Just like spring was an important time for George Walter and for the Good Will Home, it’s important for our organization, our staff and our children. Each winter, as we’re enjoying the coldness of the snow or the warmth of a fire, we’re also looking forward to spring.

And we’re so glad it’s finally here!