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George W. Hinckley and Needy Boys and Girls

George Walter Hinckley with boy
George Walter Hinckley with boy

Item Contributed by
L.C. Bates Museum / Good Will-Hinckley Homes

Text by Candace Kanes

Images from Maine Historical Society and L.C. Bates Museum/Good Will-Hinckley Homes

George W. Hinckley wanted to help needy boys.

His vision of that help took a specific form: the fresh, cool air of Maine, outdoor activity, productive labor, education, religious principles and, especially, a home-like environment.

Institutions proliferated in the late nineteenth century -- facilities to serve orphans, criminals, and persons with mental or physical disorders. Many began with the noblest of motives to serve those who needed assistance. Some, like Hinckley's Good Will Farm, wanted small living units and personalized care.

But small living units are expensive to operate and many institutions abandoned the idea.

Hinckley did not. Good Will continued during Hinckley's lifetime to house boys -- and girls -- in cottages. Hinckley got to know the youths personally. Good Will Farm, from its inception in 1889 until Hinckley's death in 1950, was a reflection of one man's vision and values.

While Hinckley's lifelong devotion was to helping needy children, he also had other interests, especially as a naturalist and collector. His natural history collections, along with fine and applied arts soon filled a museum on the Good Will campus. It became part of the experience of Good Will Farm.