STOCKHOLM, Maine — It’s not every day that visitors to a town’s history museum can step back in time and leave with a nice haircut.
But that’s exactly the tradition that Stockholm Historical Society has rebirthed.
In the barn of Stockholm’s two-story, 6,500-square-foot museum sits a replica of Dick’s Barbershop, which operated in the town throughout the 1960s and 1970s before owner Dick Levesque moved south to Caribou.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, longtime barber Deb Paradis stayed busy giving boys and men haircuts in the same chair that Levesque’s family donated to the town in 1997. As she chatted with customers, Paradis stood surrounded by the brushes, hair gel and other supplies that Levesque used in his shop.
A wooden sign labeling Dick’s Barbershop hung just above the mirror, making Paradis feel connected to the community she now calls home.
“The community has been very supportive [of the barbershop],” Paradis said, while trimming the hair of nearby New Sweden resident Rocky Robinson.
“But that’s just how people in Stockholm are: friendly and supportive of each other,” she said.
Paradis and her husband, Jim, moved to Stockholm several years ago after living in South Carolina for more than 30 years. But the Van Buren natives only recently visited the Stockholm Historical Museum for the first time.
When Paradis saw the Dick’s Barbershop display, a light bulb came on in her head. She would offer haircuts on select Saturdays during the summer while her husband sold popcorn made with his father’s replica old-fashioned popcorn machine.
Although Paradis offered the haircuts for free, she encouraged people to give at least a $10 donation to the Stockholm Historical Society, which is an all-volunteer group.
Stockholm Historical Museum at 280 Main St. showcases hundreds of small and large exhibits containing more than 6,000 artifacts donated since 1974. The typical tour takes visitors from the barn’s antique agricultural equipment through exhibits that include replica children’s bedrooms, a veteran’s tribute and biographical portraits of well-known Stockholm residents.
The building that houses most of the museum started as the town’s first general store in 1902 before becoming a hardware store and then a grocery store in later decades. Stockholm Historical Society acquired the building in 1974 in an effort to preserve the town’s tri-cultural Swedish, French and English heritage.
Though hundreds of people from various places visit the museum every year, Paradis’ barbershop has become more about bringing the community together and celebrating their shared history.
“It’s not so much about bringing more visitors [to the museum] as it is about the community,” said Lois Wardwell Knight, an archivist for the historical society. “There has been no real place since COVID hit for people to just gather and talk.”
Last Saturday was the fourth time that Paradis reopened Dick’s Barbershop. The event has become so popular — with dozens of people showing up for haircuts each time — that the Stockholm Historical Society plans to invite Paradis back next spring.
The Stockholm Historical Museum is typically open from 1 to 4 p.m. every Saturday from April through October, but also opens for special events and group visits.
For Paradis, offering people the old-fashioned barbershop experience is the least she can do for a town that has welcomed her and Jim with open arms.
“This has been a great way to meet people in town,” Paradis said. “People are the reason I do this job. If I was just standing here cutting hair, I wouldn’t do it.”