One of the “jewels” of the car collection at the Owls Head Transportation Museum is a 1913 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost formerly owned by Alice Longfellow, daughter of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Francis Elizabeth (Appleton) Longfellow. And now a family that traces its lineage to the poet’s has made a major cash donation to the museum.
The estate of Thomas Appleton Plaisted, a long-time museum volunteer, has presented the museum with a check for $125,000 to use in the museum’s programming and education outreach efforts. The check was presented to museum executive director Russ Rocknak by Dawn Swinton, niece of the late Tom Appleton.
“The Plaisted family’s connection to the museum is profound,” the museum said in its news release. “As descendants of the Longfellow family, the Plaisteds are connected to one of the jewels of the museum’s ground vehicle collection.”
The Longfellow Rolls was donated to the museum in 1989 by Alan Bermis, who used it in the 1930s to haul weather-observation equipment up Mt. Washington.
The car was severely damaged in a 1938 hurricane. Bemis did a restoration before presenting the car to the museum and last year the car was completely serviced by Steve Littin in Chadron, Ohio, and since then has been driven frequently at museum events.
Alice Longfellow, or “grave Alice” in his father’s The Children’s Hour poem, was a well-known philanthropist and preservationist. Her mother was the daughter of Nathan Appleton, a Maine congressman and industrialist. Two members of the Plaisted family served Maine as its governor.