In 1932, a group of Warner citizens decided to
organize a historical society. The following account of the first meeting
appeared in the town newspaper, the Kearsarge Independent, December 16, 1932.
"The Warner Historical Society was organized at a
well attended meeting at Legion Hall Saturday evening (Dec. 9, 1932) and
prospects for the success seemed very bright. About 20 people were present, and
officers submitted by a nominating committee of 5 were chosen as follows: Pres.
– N.A. Whitford; Vice-President – Dr. L.H. Cogswell; Sec/Treas. – Miriam E.
Savory. Nominating Com.: Carrie Sargent – Fred A. Savory & Elsie P. Murphy. Ex.
Com.: Alfred S. Cloues – A.E. Jewell – Leon A. Gage – Ruby B. Jewell & Marion
Whitford. The purpose of the society is to gather and record material – relics
and facts of a historical nature. At the Library Trustee meeting held on Friday
evening, storage space in the Library basement was voted. Mrs. Carrie Sargent
presented the society with old time pictures of interest. Annual dues of 50
cents was decided upon, and all persons in town over 70 years of age, who
desire, may become honorary members without payment of dues."
On September 3, 1935, another account of the
Society’s annual meeting was recorded in the Kearsarge Independent:
"At the annual meeting of the Warner
Historical Society at Simonds Free High School building, the following officers
were elected for the ensuing year: President – Lloyd H. Cogswell;
Vice-President: Mrs. Lora E.B. Courser; Secretary-Treasurer: Miss Miriam E.
Savory; Board of Trustees: Mrs. Marion H. Whitford, Leon A. Gage, Alfred S.
Cloues, John A. Sinclair, Mrs. Ruby B. Jewell, Mrs. Dollie M. Sargent.
Historical Committee: Mrs. Lora E.B. Courser; Mrs. Elizabeth H. Wilkins,
Nehemiah O. Whitford. Membership Committee: Mrs. Donna G. Cartledge, Fred A.
Savory, Mrs. Elsie P. Murphy. Program Committee: Harry L. Smith, Mrs. Florence
E.D. Savory, Mrs. Katherine B. Henley. Property Committee: Mrs. Dollie M.
Sargent, Mrs. Hilma P. Sawyer, [and] Mrs. Alice H. Hardy. Miss Florence O. Bean
gave a very interesting talk of the purpose and work of a historical society and
told some interesting stories of old-time residents. Informal remarks were made
by Mrs. Hilma Sawyer, Leon A. Gage, N.O. Whitford and Mrs. Lora Courser."
If minutes of the meetings were recorded, they
have been lost over the years. Various small reports may have appeared in the
Kearsarge Independent, but only a complete examination of the paper would gather
such information. The Society was discontinued in 1945, but revived in 1967; the
following account of the first meeting was written by Nancy Sibley Wilkins on
July 17, 1968:
"On Tuesday, October 10, 1967, a meeting was
held in the Warner Town Hall for all interested in re-establishing the Warner
Historical Society. As a result, seventy persons who were present signed as
wishing to belong to a Warner Historical Society and later, fifty others who
could not be present, indicated their interest. Walter Miner, acting as
temporary chairman, and a small committee composed of William Cogswell, Paul
Ladd, Charlotte Holden, Mary Martin, Miriam Savory and myself, have written,
after careful study and many revisions, a Constitution and By-laws for the
Warner Historical Society. So, we are sending it, herewith, to all who have
expressed an interest, with the request that you come to an organizational
meeting for the Warner Historical Society at the Warner Town Hall, August 15th,
at 7:30 o’clock in the evening. At this meeting, we will vote on accepting this
proposed Constitution and By-laws, as well as a slate of officers submitted by a
committee composed of Mary F. Martin, Chairman, William Cogswell and Paul Ladd.
Reports of what has already been started by certain individuals will be given,
with the hope that others will have suggestions to work for after we are
Meetings were held at the Lower Warner Meeting
House (from May through September), a mid-Nineteenth Century house of worship
donated to the Historical Society by Nancy Sibley Wilkins in 1969. The
Historical Society’s collections were stored there for more than ten years. In
1978, a very generous Mary Martin left money in her estate to the Society, which
was used for maintenance of the Meeting House and, in 1982, used to purchase the
permanent home on Main Street, a house that was built around 1833. In the early
1980s, the Historical Society barn was transformed into a discount shopping
area, a place where all kinds of donations are made by the people of Warner,
providing the Society with its major source of revenue for operating expenses.
And in 2002, a Book Loft was added to the second floor of the Barn, where
donations of used books, paperbacks, CDs, and records can be purchased at
bargain prices. In 2000, the John P.H. Chandler Family of Warner gifted to the
Society a Federal-style house that is situated across the street from the Main
Building. The Upton/Chandler House (built in 1817) is being rehabilitated and
restored for use as exhibit space of the Society’s collections.
Through years of dedicated service by
community members, the Historical Society has become a strong and thriving
organization, and continues its role as established in 1932 as the guardian of