The Union Historical Society will begin its 2010 series of programs Wednesday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. Harry Rich of Harpswell will show a short film on the life of Rear Adm. Robert E. Peary, 1856-1920, and his relationship with Eagle Island. The meeting will be held at the Thompson Community Center at the corner of Common Road and South Union Road (Route 131) in Union. The program will follow a short business meeting conducted by society President Dave Shaub.

The film, which was produced by the Friends of Peary’s Eagle Island, is a biographical sketch about Peary’s life and his quest for the geographical North Pole. A highly intelligent and able but flawed individual, Peary claimed to have been the first person to reach the North Pole on April 6, 1909, a claim that has been the subject of controversy ever since. After graduating from Bowdoin in 1877, Peary purchased Eagle Island for $500 in 1881. The 17-acre Casco Bay island became his retirement home, and his family summered there for 60 years until the property was donated to the state of Maine in 1955. It is now a state historic park open to the public by tour boat.

Rich described Peary as a romantic engineer who planned and designed his island estate himself, while employing local workers for his construction projects. A native of Union, Rich became involved with the Friends of Peary’s Eagle Island when he moved to Harpswell.

Hostesses Sherry Cobb and Linda McAllister will serve refreshments after the meeting. All meetings of the Union Historical Society are free and open to the public. The Union Historical Society owns and maintains the Robbins House on Union Common, the Old Town House on Town House Road, and the Cobb’s Ledge historic site, also located on Town House Road. Membership is $5 per year. For more information call 785-5444 and leave a message or visit midcoast.com/comespring.