AMESBURY — The Bartlett Museum’s newest exhibit will be a circa 1820 Sargent & Gunnison chaise carriage when it is unveiled to the public next spring.
The Kentucky-based Carriage Museum of America has a satellite farm in North Yarmouth, Maine, and officials there were looking for a new home for the Amesbury-built, two-wheel carriage.
The Bartlett Museum focuses on the history of Amesbury, Salisbury and Merrimac, dating from prehistoric times to the mid- to late 20th century.
The carriage was built in Merrimac, which was then part of Amesbury, by Sargent & Gunnison about 1820.
“We go back to the time of the Native Americans and we also have yearbooks from the 1960s and ‘70s,” Bartlett Museum board President Jon Camp said. “But we basically concentrate on the history of Amesbury and the surrounding towns.”
Salisbury also used to be part of Amesbury. Parts of Salisbury became Amesbury and then Merrimac split off from Amesbury.
The Bartlett Museum has a collection of five other Amesbury-built carriages and a sleigh in its carriage shed. Officials jumped at the chance to take possession of the Sargent & Gunnison rig.
Camp spent a good portion of his Saturday hauling the 199-year-old carriage to Amesbury with the museum’s treasurer and local historian, Steve Klomps.
“We rented a truck and went up,” Camp said. “I think it went pretty smoothly, all in all, we had a great weather day. The hardest thing was trying to figure out gas because we needed diesel. But we had a lot of fun and we felt it was a great opportunity to bring it down.”
The Sargent & Gunnison carriage was added to the museum’s carriage collection by Saturday evening.
“It was a little bit of a squeeze but we were able to get it into our carriage shed,” Camp said. “It’s only a two-wheel carriage, so it doesn’t take up quite as much space as a four-wheel carriage.”
The museum’s carriage shed has become very popular, according to Camp.
“We really like it because it is a good representation of different kinds of carriages,” he said. “We even have a commercial wagon that used to bring meat products to people. That is very unusual.”
The Bartlett Museum, housed in an 1850s era schoolhouse, is open in the spring and summer. Museum operators expect to have the new chaise ready for display next spring.
“We’re basically a summer operation at this point, but we hope to have the carriage ready when we open on Memorial Day weekend next spring,” Camp said. “Of course, if there is someone who’s really interested in seeing it, they can get in touch with us and make an appointment. We’d be happy to show them around.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.