Parts of the Holt Research Forest property were farmed from the late 1600s to the 1940s. Aerial photos from 1940 show a distinct difference in forest stand types along an old east-west property/fence line. Remnants of stone walls, building foundations, and wire fencing are still visible. This former property line divides the area into north and south halves. William (Bill) and Winifred Holt bought the south farm in 1941 and the north farm in 1946 and added several additional parcels. Over the next four decades, land management was minimal. Jeep trails to the Back River and Sewell Pond were maintained. Bill Holt planted some white pines in abandoned agricultural areas and removed some firewood and dead and dying trees. Click here for more about the land use history.
In 1981 the Holt family offered the use of the property to the University of Maine for research, under the auspices of the Holt Woodlands Research Foundation (HWRF). After some exploratory inventories (see 1982 Natural Resource Inventory) , in 1983 the project began in earnest with the pursuit of forest management and research goals.
HWRF constructed a research facility on the site of an abandoned well and cellar hole. A log house was built in 1983 from white pine, spruce, and hemlock harvested from the area just east of the site to become the residence for the on-site scientist/ property manager. A two-story garage was built in 1987 for equipment storage, work area, with the second floor serving initially as housing but now primarily as office space. Currently accommodations for visiting scientists or students are very limited.
In 2014 the Holt Woodlands Research Foundation ceased to exist by merger with the Maine TREE Foundation. The ongoing project continues with their support and guidance.