Though he figures prominently in Bowdoin culture—from the way he greets visitors from his post on Maine Street to the places on campus that bear his name—Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain remains a surprisingly unknown figure.

A graduate and president of the College, as well as a Civil War hero and governor of Maine, Chamberlain was "a hero in his day," said Arthur Banner, a volunteer guide at the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum.

The museum, housed just across the street from the statue, is a veritable trove of information concerning the somewhat mysterious Chamberlain, who, after his death, according to Banner, "disappeared... as if he never existed."

The house in which the museum is located has an equally interesting history. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once rented rooms inside. As legend has it, Longfellow cried with joy when he returned to the house 50 years after his graduation to find that Chamberlain had maintained its décor.

Chamberlain did, however, make some radical changes to the place. Determined to have the house face Maine Street, Chamberlain moved the structure down a plot and rotated it from its original position on Potter Street. He later added a bottom story to enlarge the house for entertaining guests.

In addition to the interesting architecture and history, the Chamberlain museum boasts a wide collection of Chamberlain memorabilia—from the Minie ball that traveled through his hip at the Battle of Petersburg to an odd photo of his son, Harold, wearing a dress. The house was sold in 1939 and its contents were auctioned off, but many items have been given back to the museum over the years.

So why visit the museum? According to Banner, "the house gives you a connection with the real Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain." Though nearly forgotten after death, Chamberlain's legacy was revived by the publication of Michael Shaara's "The Killer Angels." This history glorifies Chamberlain and focuses on his military might, but in the eyes of Banner, there is far more to the man.

Tours at the museum are free with the price of admission ($5 for adults, $2.50 for guests aged six to 16, and free for those under five) and last about 45 minutes, during which guests can view almost all of the rooms in the house.

Patrons wishing to know more about Chamberlain may also want to visit the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, where his Medal of Honor is kept, or the Pine Grove cemetery, where he is buried. Though Chamberlain is remembered as a hero, a visit to the Joshua L. Chamberlain museum on Maine Street paints a fuller picture of the man—one that is all the more captivating.

The Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum is located at 226 Maine Street. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m Tuesday to Saturday, and the museum will close on October 9 for the season. However, it will reopen for the Saturday of Parents Weekend with tours on the half hour.