This program’s focus was to advance medicine and medical training in Maine. 

1936, Edmund Muskie had just graduated from Bates College. He had  accepted a scholarship offer from Cornell Law School but at the end of the first year of classes imperiled by financial crisis. Muskie learned of William Bingham II, a wealthy man who supported Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine and assisted students who needed financial help to continue school.  Muskie wrote to Bingham, and within a few days had an interview with Dr. Farnsworth, Bingham’s agent.  Muskie  left the meeting with $900 and a promise of $900 more the next year, both interest-free loans.

August 1937, Time Magazine printed a news article titled “For Country Doctors”.   The article noted that after Dr. Gehring’s death in 1932, Mr.  Bingham  who had given $200,000 for the John G Gehring Floor at the Neurological Institute in Manhattan’s Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Centre, bought his good friend’s inn.

The article goes on to describe how Mr.  Bingham had then given $400,000 to found for Professor Joseph Hersey Pratt of Boston’s Tufts Medical  School , a diagnostic hospital named for Pratt.  And since then had increased his contribution to this facility with another $300,000. 

The program Bingham funded for the Pratt Diagnostic Center would allow “country doctors” from all over New England to send 10% of their toughest cases to Pratt for study and diagnosis.  The Bingham would also pay for doctors to study at Pratt and pay for  exchange doctors to cover their home town practice.


Early 1940’s Princeton University.  Bingham gave a special collection of Chinese paintings to the university. The Dr. Frederick Peterson Collection was catalogued in 1930 by the well-known sinologist Berthold Laufer, and given by William Bingham II to Princeton in the early 1940s.


June 2006, the Nature Conservancy announced a $2.5 million grant for its four state Connecticut River program.

The grant was provided by the Bingham Trust, a small, private trust founded in 1935.

“This grant from the Bingham Trust will allow us to gain a better understanding of the river and its tributaries,” said Kim Lutz, director of the Conservancy’s Connecticut River Program. 


In November 2007,  members of the Bingham Program met at the Bethel Inn to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the program’s founding.   The meeting’s website noted that - it was formed in 1932 to advance medicine and medical training in Maine. The charitable endowment was initially established by William Bingham II to encourage New England Medical Center (NEMC) physicians in Boston to bring modern medical knowledge and techniques to physicians practicing in rural, western Maine.

The program’s website notes also that Mr. Bingham had helped a number of prominent Mainers to further their schooling and included: • Senator Edmund Muskie; Dr. Victor McKusick (Johns Hopkins); Honorable Vincent McKusick (Chief Justice); Dr. Harold Rheinlander (NEMC); Dr. Daniel Hanley (Maine).































Bethel, Maine


The Age of Philanthropy

William Bingham II—Benefactor

Compiled as a chapter of

The Bethel Journals by

Donald G. Bennett

December 2008

1  |   2   |   3

Dr. John G. Gehring, Mr. Bingham’s personal physician, apparently was attending Bingham in Bethel in 1931 while the latter was convalescing  from an illness .  Gehring referred Bingham to Dr. Joseph Pratt.  Pratt saw Bingham for six weeks and during that time Bingham discussed with Pratt the idea of a program to help rural Maine doctors get  access to diagnostic support from the Pratt Diagnostic Hospital. 

Dr. George B. and Ruth Farnsworth and Ruth Dudley.  George Farnsworth was Marian Gehring’s son and Dr. Gehring’s step-son.  Farnsworth’s medical practice was in Cleveland.