The Berlin & Coos County Historical Society is an extraordinary organization charged with educating a broad and diverse public about Coos County’s rich history, culture and ethnic roots with an eye to showing their significance to our lives today. In support of this mission, the society collects, preserves and displays materials pertaining to Coos County in general and Berlin in particular and they tackle the stewardship of their own 1890 museum headquarters and enormous barns associated with the Brown Company, a prominent pulp and paper-making company also known for many innovations and patents.
The Society was founded in 1990 and has been headquartered in the Moffett House Museum and Genealogy Center since 1996. The cellar contains the restored office and treatment center of Dr. Irving Moffett who was an Osteopath beginning in 1932 and practiced in this location from 1949 until his death in 1993. This building is the repository for about 2500 historical objects, 1612 photographs, and 3004 binders of ephemera. It also contains the largest library of genealogical material north of Manchester. They have also digitized and indexed every Brown Company Bulletin—newsletters that chronicle the lives of mill workers between 1919 and 1960.
The Historical Society also owns and is completing the rehabilitation of two Brown Company Barns north of downtown. These barns are the last of what remains of Brown Company Logging, and one has connections to a Brown family member’s efforts to introduce Arabian horses as a superior breed for the Calvary. Donations from people near and far, 2 LCHIP grants and thousands of hours of labor have been donated to the rehabilitation and stewardship project to date.
The building was jacked up and the rotten wooden supports replaced. Cables on the inside had to be adjusted to make the building square and level. A screen was placed around the bottom of the building to provide ventilation and to keep out animals. The building was given three coats of paint by D&M Painting of Gorham.
For five weeks during the hot summer months of July and August 2010, Maurice Lavertue and Don LeClerc continued the work of restoring the Brown Company Barns on East Side River Road. The sills on the southern-most barn were rotting, causing the exterior walls to sag as much as 8 inches on the north side. As a result, the interior support structure was pushing up into the roof. Don and Maurice jacked up the north side of the 160 year old barn and removed the rotted sill. They poured four new concrete piers, put in a new sill and lowered the wall back onto the new piers.
Thanks to this active and ambitious historical society, Berlin’s history - both architectural and ephemeral - will remain for future generations.