St. Michael students lend helping hand during “Day of Caring”

Contributed photo

Contributed photo

Students at St. Michael School, in Augusta, put down their books and iPads on October 1 and picked up rakes, rags, and gloves to help make their community a better place.

Pre-kindergartners through eighth graders participated in the “Day of Caring,” an annual event organized by the United Way to celebrate the spirit of service and engage thousands of people across the country in community service projects. During the day, St. Michael students cleaned the yard at the Howell House, a senior residence in Augusta; picked up litter and raked on the Kennebec River Rail Trail; and spread bark mulch on the school playground.

In addition to the “Day of Caring” projects, students also launched a drive to collect mittens, hats, pillows, towels, and socks for Bread of Life, in Augusta, an organization that operates a soup kitchen, a family shelter, a shelter for veterans, and apartment units, and offers case management services to those in need.

“Students take pride in giving their time and donations to important projects to help improve our communities,” said Kevin Cullen, principal of St. Michael. “We are proud of our students and the community spirit they demonstrate not just during special events, but each day.”

Contributed photo

Pack #603 holds Webelo Resident Camp

Augusta Pack #603 Webelo Tristan Morton, right, explains what he learned at Webelo Resident Camp this summer to BSA Scout Jacob Blais, center, and Bear Cub Scout Lizzy Blais, left, as they construct an emergency shelter during Pack #603 Family Camping at Camp Nutter, in Acton. Collaboration, cooperation, and skill sharing are key elements of scouting. (contributed photo)

Parent Becky Blais photos progress as Troop #603, from left to right, BSA Scout Jacob Blais, and Bear Cub Scout Lizzy Blais, and Pack #603 Webelo Tristan Morton, gather leaves and other site debris to provide an insulated cover to their emergency shelter framework at Camp Nutter during Family Camping September 11-12. Scouts build friendships while adding skills as they work as a team. (contributed photo)

Raingutter Regatta

Troop #603 Scouts Gibs Schefter and Jacob Blais are shown coordinating the races. Parents interested in Scouting should check out the Pine Tree Council website. (contributed photo)

The American Legion Post #205 hosted a Raingutter Regatta for Pack #603 as they opened their doors for a new school year. Over 30 families participated, and the kids built, raced, and took home their boats.

Local scouting leaders receive prestigious district awards

Luanne Chesley, Advancement and Recognition chairman, left, presented the District Award of Merit to Russell Cahn. (contributed photo)

by Chuck Mahaleris

Russell Cahn, of Augusta, received the highest award a local Scouting District can bestow upon a volunteer on Saturday, September 25, when he was presented the District Award of Merit during the annual District Scouters’ Recognition Dinner held at Camp Bomazeen.

Cahn currently serves as Scoutmaster of Troop #631 at St. Augustine church but his Scouting career began when he joined Cub Scouts as a leader in New York Pack #349 where he served as Den Leader for Tigers, Wolf, Bear and Webelos dens. He was also Little League Coach from 2009-2014, in Forest Hills, New York. When the family moved to Maine, he and his family quickly got involved in Augusta’s Cub Scout Pack serving as Assistant Cubmaster and Den Leader.

When his son Tyler was old enough to cross over, Russel joined Troop #631, in Augusta, as an Assistant Scoutmaster and became Scoutmaster in 2020. Russell also served as the Cub Scout Rangemaster for Kennebec Valley District and served as Rangemaster for Pine Tree Council since 2017. Cahn teaches several merit badges and was a member of various Merit Badge Colleges. He also was a member of the 2017 National Jamboree Staff and the 2019 World Jamboree contingent.

Julie McKenney, Cub Day Camp Director at Camp Bomazeen and Kennebec Valley District Activities chairman, praised Cahn. “Russell’s knowledge from his previous unit in New York helped shift the way the Kennebec Valley District holds their Pine Wood Derbies. His guidance has molded the derbies into a far more enjoyable format for our Scouting families.” Cahn’s wife Tracy is a member and the chairman of the Troop Committee and their son Tyler is working on his Eagle Scout project. Both were present when the award was presented to him by District Advancement & Recognition Chairman Luanne Chesley, of Vassalboro. Cahn said, “Scouting allows me to share knowledge about the outdoors and the values of Scouting that they otherwise would not receive. Scouting gives them outstanding experiences that will help them develop into leaders.”

Heidi O’Donnell

Also receiving the District Award of Merit was Heidi O’Donnell, who volunteers in Scouting with Camden Troop #200. She has been involved with both Girl Scouts and Scouting since her son Matthew was a Tiger Cub Scout in 2011 and her daughter Taylor first joined Girl Scouts. Both joined her at Camp Bomazeen to receive the award.

Matthew is currently working towards his Eagle Scout rank and Taylor has submitted her Gold Project award. Heidi has been involved at various levels of both programs and has also served on Camp Bomazeen staff and worked at several Merit Badge colleges. Like Cahn, she was a member of the 2017 National Jamboree staff and also attended the 2019 World Jamboree.

O’Donnell was co-trek leader for Philmont in 2019. Outside of Scouting, Heidi has been involved with the YMCA and was awarded its Volunteer of the Year in 2016. Heidi said, “I love being part of the scouting program – both Scouts BSA and Girl Scouts. It is my hope that my involvement in scouting has made a positive impact on many. I know it has had a significant effect on myself and my two children and I am grateful that they were both there to celebrate with me. I look forward to many more years in scouting and encourage others to consider helping to make scouting strong in their communities as it is fulfilling work on so many levels.”

John Wood, a long-time Scouting volunteer from Hope said, “Scouting has been this young lady’s life. She is well deserving of this award.”

District Chairman Joe Shelton, of China, said, “We are very blessed to have so many outstanding volunteer Scouting leaders in Kennebec Valley. They make this program happy and it is only fitting that we take the opportunity to recognize those who have given so much.”

EVENT: Recover Out Loud in Maine’s Capital September 30

Join the Maine Recovery Advocacy Project as we Recover Out Loud in Maine’s Capital! and celebrate International Recovery Day and National Recovery Month on September 30th, 2021 from 5 to 10 pm in Mill Park!

The night will start out with live performances by North Wood Outlaws, The Young Swagg, and TreeLock. Followed by a live-streamed concert, featuring Macklemore, as part of a nationwide recovery initiative—supported by iHeart Media and Variety—and produced by Mobilize Recovery.

Guest speakers will include Mayor Dave Rollins, Carolyn Delany (founder of Journey Magazine), Representative Charlotte Warren, Councilor Courtney Allen, and many of Maine’s recovery community leaders.

Food will be on-site to purchase from the popular Two Maine Guys food truck.

Organizers will be accepting donations to support the launch of the Augusta Recovery Reentry Center (ARRC), an initiative of the Maine Recovery Advocacy Project, Maine Prisoner Reentry Network, Young People in Recovery – Augusta, and Fresh Out Sober Living. Donate today! (Please dedicate all donations to the “Maine Fund”!)

This Event is Supported By:
(Host Committees In Formation)

Recovery Champions
Journey Magazine, Honorable Sara Gideon, Bernstein Shur

Recovery Allies
R.A.M Window Cleaning and Property Maintenance LLC, Dr. Winifred Tate, AngleZ Behavioral Health Services, Crisis & Counseling Centers,

Friends of Recovery
Honorable Eddie Dugay, Sari Greene, Betsy Sweet, Representative Charlotte Warren

Partners Tabling at the Event

Savida Health, Maine Prisoner Reentry Network, Fresh Out Sober Living, Young People in Recovery – Augusta, Maine Women’s Lobby, Recover2gether, MHHS Club at the University of Maine at Augusta, PRCC “Maine’s Recovery Hub”, The Augusta Teen Center, Dignity, Church of Safe Injection, Groups Recover Together, LINC, Crisis & Counseling (OPTIONS, Parents Case Management, SUD Services, and 5K Race)

Learn more about levels of sponsorship here. Please reach out to if you would like to sponsor or table at the event.

A special thank you to The City Of Augusta for helping to make this event possible with the support of the stage and venue, and for their commitment to the recovery community in Augusta.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Central Maine high schools

Old Cony High School – Flat Iron building.

by Mary Grow

According to Millard Howard’s history of Palermo, an 1817 Massachusetts law that apparently carried over into Maine in 1820 required each town with 50 families to provide a primary school and each town with 200 families to have a grammar school whose teacher was able to teach Latin and Greek.

Alice Hammond’s history of Sidney has a slightly different version, perhaps referring to a different law: she wrote that when the population reached 100 families, “the authorities should set up a grammar school to instruct youth for the university.”

Over the years, central Kennebec Valley towns have complied with the law by supporting a local public high school, contracting to send students to a larger town’s public high school or contracting with a private high school.

This essay and its successor will not attempt to follow all the convolutions in every town and city, nor will they extend much later than 1900. The twentieth century saw a continuation of all three methods, with state law establishing various consolidated programs (Maine School Administrative Districts, Regional School Unions, Alternative Organizational Structures) and with the foundation of new private schools, secular and religious.

This series has already partly discussed the public high schools in the cities of Augusta and Waterville, in connection with their former homes in historic buildings that are now Cony Flatiron Residence and Gilman Place (see the issues of The Town Line for Sept. 2 and Aug. 26, respectively). This week’s article will summarize some earlier high-school buildings in the two cities, as described in local histories.

Public high schools in Augusta

According to Kingsbury, Augusta’s first high school opened in 1803. It seems to have been a private corporation – he wrote that “a group of citizens” put up a brick grammar school building where Bridge Street then ended at State Street (Bridge Street has since then continued west another six-plus blocks). Shareholders could send one student for each share owned.

School started in the spring of 1804, with “a Mr. Cheney” teaching courses that included the “dead languages.” (Wikipedia says there are at least 673 dead languages, defined as those “that no longer have a native speaking community.” Kingsbury probably meant Ancient Greek and Latin.)

The building burned in 1807, Kingsbury said. Until 1835, Augusta students wanting more than a primary education could attend Hallowell Academy.

On Feb. 19, 1835, Kingsbury wrote, the Maine legislature approved incorporation of the Augusta Classical School Association. This group, headed by seven directors, raised money by selling shares.

The Association bought the lot where the earlier school building stood and built an east-facing, two-story, 65-by-50-foot brick building “with pediment front, supported by four Doric columns of wood.” The first classes started April 18, 1836.

William H. Allen was the preceptor, assisted by his sister, identified as “Miss Allen,” Joseph Baker and Hannah Lambard, whose brother Thomas was one of the directors. Allen was succeeded by two “English ladies” named Taylor, presumably sisters, and then by “Mr. Woodbury.”

Classical School tuition was $6 per term and, Kingsbury wrote, was supposed to support the school. It did for only a few years before the “worthy promoters suffered its doors to be finally closed.”

Meanwhile, an 1833 state law allowed Augusta school districts to combine, and early in 1842 two of them did, forming the Village School District. The new district had 974 students, and the directors decided they needed six primary schools, two grammar schools and one high school.

This district included the site of the earlier high schools, and the Village School District first rented and in 1848 bought, for $3,000, the Classical School building. It was succeeded in 1869 by a building that, Kirk Mohney found in his 1988 research for the National Register of Historic Places listing for the Cony Flatiron, was designed by Francis Fassett (1823-1908). Readers have met Fassett before as the architect of many buildings throughout Maine, including in downtown Augusta (see The Town Line, Feb. 4).

In 1881, Kingsbury wrote, the Village District high school was superseded by Cony Free High School.

Public high schools in Waterville

Waterville High School from 1912 – 1963.

According to Elwood T. Wyman’s chapter in the Rev. Edwin Carey Whittemore’s 1902 bicentennial history of Waterville, primary schools opened before 1802, when Waterville separated from Winslow, and continued afterwards, with the usual fluidity of school district boundaries. Originally designated by names – Ticonic, Ten-lot, Almond Soule’s, Asa Soule’s, for example – the districts were quickly numbered for official reports.

Beginning in 1846, Carey wrote, “more advanced pupils” attended Waterville Academy (later Coburn Classical Institute), founded in 1823. It is puzzling that a page later he wrote of Latin and French being “authorized” as high-school courses in 1855; and of teachers “of high and grammar grades” being asked in 1859 to report weekly to parents on their children’s “conduct and scholarship,” as though Waterville officials were in charge.

In and after 1864, Carey continued, “pupils of high school rank” were sent to Waterville Academy, and Waterville paid the Academy $4.50 a term for tuition. The agreement continued until Waterville Free High School opened in 1876.

Carey listed nine “masters” (principals) of Waterville Free High School, all Colby graduates. The ninth had just resigned, and in 1902 was to be succeeded by Richard W. Sprague, Colby 1901, Carey wrote.

(Graduating from Colby and immediately becoming Waterville High principal was a recurring pattern, according to Arthur Roberts’ paragraphs on teachers in Whittemore’s history. Lincoln Owen, Colby 1889, was, on Carey’s list, the school’s fourth head, from 1889 to 1893. Next came Dennis Bowman, of Sidney, Colby 1893, who served until 1898. The principal who was departing in 1902, John Edward Nelson, of China, Colby 1898, took over in September 1898, according to Roberts. Carey, who included no dates, listed three other men between Bowman and Nelson.)

So where was Waterville Free High School between 1876 and its move to Gilman Street in 1912?

In 1853, after long debate, Waterville school officials had two brick primary schools constructed. The one on the 1902 site of North Grammar School (dedicated Feb. 28, 1888) was moved to a College Avenue location and in 1902 was a tenement.

The other 1853 school, presumably the south one, was in 1902 “the main part of the present high school building.”

This 1853 building that was by 1902 incorporated into the high school appears to have been close to the site of the 1920 Albert S. Hall School. The Hall School, at 27 Pleasant Street, housed students in kindergarten through grade six in 1970, according to someone who taught there; it now serves students in fourth and fifth grades, according to its website.

An on-line chronology says in 1922 (10 years after the high school moved to Gilman Street, two years after the Hall School was finished), “Old High School on Pleasant Street was demolished to make room for the new Junior High school construction.”

A brief on-line history of the Hall School says it “has served as Waterville High School” and Waterville Junior High School before becoming an elementary school. But sources cited in the earlier story about Gilman Street School say the high school was there from 1912 until 1963.

(The original Pleasant Street School was renamed in honor of Albert Sedgley Hall, who started his 35-year career in education in Waterville as a sixth-grade teacher and ended it after 11 years as the city’s Superintendent of Schools.)

Backing up to 1902, Carey further noted that in the last 15 years of the 18th century, Waterville officials had overseen construction of four new (primary) schools and remodeling of two older ones; and there was a need for another new primary school “and for a new high school building.”

The new high school was probably the Gilman Street School; readers will remember that construction began in 1912. An on-line chronology adds that in 1914, the “New Senior High School” was damaged by fire.

William H. Allen
and two of his fellow teachers

William Henry Allen (March 27, 1808 – Aug. 29, 1882) had a varied career in education and educational administration.

He was born in Readfield, son of Jonathan and Thankful (Longley) Allen. He went from Kents Hill Seminary to Bowdoin, graduating in 1833, and, the Prabook on-line site says, “received a degree of Doctor of Laws from Union College as well as from Emory and Henry College.”

(Union College, founded in 1795, is a private liberal arts college in Schenectady, New York. Emory and Henry College is in Emory, Virginia; campus construction began in 1836, and the first students were admitted in 1838. It was founded by the Holston Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church and is now affiliated with the United Methodist Church.)

From 1833 to 1836 Allen was a Latin and Greek teacher at Oneida Methodist Conference Seminary, Cazenovia, New York. In 1836 he came to Augusta to head the Classical School; he left after six months for Dickinson College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. There he taught chemistry and natural history for 10 years, then philosophy and English literature, and at some point spent most of a year as acting president.

Chosen as president of Girard College, identified on line as a 12-grade college preparatory school in Philadelphia, in 1849, he took over in 1850. He resigned in 1862, but after three years “lecturing and writing” and two years as president of Pennsylvania Agricultural College, now part of Penn State University, in University Park, he returned to Girard for 15 more years described as “most gratifying to him and most valuable to those for whom he labored.”

The Prabook article says nothing about Allen’s sister or other siblings, but it lists his four wives: Martha Ann Richardson (d. 1839); Ellen Honora Curtin (sister of Pennsylvania Governor Andrew G. Curtin); Mary Frances Quincy (daughter of Samuel Quincy, of Boston); and Anna (Dunton) Gamwill (married Allen in 1858 and survived him).

Joseph Baker was born June 23, 1812, in Bloomfield (now Skowhegan). His father, Amos, was a Revolutionary War veteran who farmed in the summer and taught in the winter.

Joseph attended China Academy and graduated from Bowdoin College in 1836. Like his father, he taught in the winter. The on-line Biographical Encyclopedia of Maine of the Nineteenth Century, says when he boarded in rural school districts, he would breakfast at 3 or 4 a.m. with the farm family and spend the hours until school began “reading nearly the whole of the British Poets.”

After graduation, Baker studied under local lawyers during two years as assistant teacher at the Augusta high school. Admitted to the bar in 1839, he promptly set up a practice in Augusta that continued, with partners, all his life. His later career included terms as Augusta City Solicitor and Kennebec County Attorney and service in the Maine House and Senate. He died Nov. 29, Thanksgiving Day, 1883.

Sarah and Hannah [Lambard] Walcott were daughters of Dolly Lambard, who acquired Martha Ballard’s diary after the now-famous Hallowell midwife died in May 1812. After Dolly Lambard died in 1861, her daughters kept the diary until 1884, when they gave it to Ballard’s great-great-granddaughter, Mary Hobart, a doctor.

Main sources

Hammond, Alice, History of Sidney Maine 1792-1992 (1992).
Howard, Millard, An Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine (second edition, December 2015).
Kingsbury, Henry D., ed. Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Local residents named to Simmons University dean’s list

The following local residents were named to the 2021 spring semester dean’s list at Simmons University, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Allyson Cunningham, of Augusta, Kaili Shorey, of Vassalboro, Abigail Bloom, of Waterville, and Maddie Beckwith, of Winslow.

To qualify for dean’s list status, undergraduate students must obtain a grade point average of 3.5 or higher, based on 12 or more credit hours of work in classes using the letter grade system.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Cony Flat Iron Building

Old Cony High School – Flat Iron Building

by Mary Grow

One more former school in the central Kennebec Valley is on the National Register of Historic Places: the original Cony High School, in Augusta, often referred to as Old Cony High School, to avoid confusion with present-day Cony High School, or as Cony Flatiron, for its unusual shape.

Kirk Mohney of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission prepared the National Register application for the building in July1988. The listing is dated Sept. 29, 1988.

The Cony Flatiron is on a 1.5-acre lot, Mohney wrote, on the southeast side of Cony Circle, the traffic circle at the east end of Memorial Bridge across the Kennebec River.

The name comes from the building’s unusual wedge, or flatiron, shape. The slightly curved end with the entrance faces northwest onto the rotary; the sides flare out, so that the building is wider at the back.

High school education has been available in Augusta since 1816. Augusta’s on-line Museum in the Streets says in 1815, Daniel Cony put up a building on his land at the intersection of Bangor and Cony streets, on the northeast side of the present traffic circle. “At first a mystery, it was soon announced to be an academy for girls”; it opened as Cony Female Academy the next year.

The Museum in the Streets says in 1844 the Academy, needing more space, relocated across Cony Street into the former Bethlehem (Unitarian) Church building. The new site was the Flatiron Building lot.

Cony Female Academy closed in 1857. Henry Kingsbury, in his Kennebec County history, and Mohney summarized information on other post-primary Augusta schools between the 1830s and the 1880s, apparently located on the west side of the Kennebec.

By 1880 the newest of these schools was overcrowded. Kingsbury wrote that Cony’s grandson, ex-Governor Joseph Williams, proposed that the still-existing Academy Board of Trustees give the school’s trust fund, which by then had grown to almost $20,000, to the city for a new high school.

Augusta officials accepted and built “the present [in 1892] stately edifice” as Cony Free High School on the Flatiron site. The building pictured in Kingsbury’s history resembles a church, with peaked roofs, an arched entrance and a tall, decorated central tower.

Museum in the Streets says the city “controlled the property” by 1908. In 1909 the Cony Free High School building acquired “substantial wings” (Mohney’s words), but by the 1920s it, too, had become too small, and officials replaced it with the Flatiron Building and renamed it Cony High School.

Mohney’s description of the Flatiron said the Colonial Revival style brick building was designed by Bunker and Savage, of Augusta, and constructed between 1926 and 1932 (Museum in the Streets gives the dates as 1929-1930, suggesting most of the work was done then).

The building is three stories tall on a granite foundation, with “rusticated brickwork” on the first level. (Wikipedia explains “rusticated” brick, masonry or stonework as having a rough outward surface that gives a textured appearance.)

The ground-floor front has three bays on its curve, each with an inset doorway with granite moldings around the doors. Brick plinths between bays support the two-story Tuscan columns above them; each bay has three tall windows on each floor.

The second and third floors are “separated by a wide, ornate stringcourse,” Mohney wrote. The stringcourse, a curved granite band, “is decorated with carved swags and an open book bearing the date 1926.”

Above the third floor another stone band has the words “CONY HIGH SCHOOL” in its three sections. A brick parapet with a clock with Roman numerals topped the front of the building.

Both sides were provided with a generous number of tall windows – fourteen to a side since a 1984 remodeling, Mohney wrote, almost twice as many originally. He described the fourth side of the building (the back) as having “two walls that meet at an obtuse angle” and variety in height and arrangement of doors and windows.

Inside, he wrote, the school was minimally decorated and had the wide staircases with landings that were typical of the period. The third-floor auditorium was the fanciest room, with a stage at one end and a balcony at the other and “Colonial Revival style details with classical moldings and pilasters.”

Wikipedia says the school was dedicated Dec. 12, 1930, although the top floor remained unfinished until 1932.

Again the number of students increased to exceed the capacity of the building, and an addition with more classrooms was built farther up the hill in 1963 or 1965 (sources differ). The addition and the enclosed, elevated walkway connecting it to the Flatiron were demolished, Wikipedia says in 2008.

A Cony graduate said she took most of her classes in the addition, but went to the old building for her typing class; she believes business and perhaps shop courses stayed in the Flatiron. The main difference she remembers is that Old Cony’s classrooms had high ceilings.

The present Cony High School at 60 Pierce Drive, next to the Capital Area Technical Center, opened in the fall of 2006, and Old Cony High School closed that year.

Wikipedia says the city used the Flatiron Building to store city property until 2013, when Housing Initiatives of New England leased it (for 49 years at a cost of $1 per year) and converted it to senior housing. The conversion maintained historic features, including stairs, corridors and most of the auditorium. New windows were designed to look like the old ones.

The Daniel Cony clock was preserved. It says on its face: “Presented by Hon. Daniel Cony. Time Is Fleeting.”

An article by reporter Keith Edwards in the July 19, 2015, Kennebec Journal describes the opening of the 48-apartment Cony Flatiron Senior Residence, with former Cony High School graduates among the first tenants.

Daniel Cony

(Emily Schroeder, the archivist for the Kennebec Historical Society, wrote an article on Daniel Cony for the January-February 2020, issue of the Society’s newsletter, Kennebec Current. She was inspired by paintings of Cony and his wife on the wall of the society’s headquarters building. Much of the information on Daniel Cony is from her piece; other on-line sources and Henry Kingsbury’s Kennebec County history have contributed.)

Daniel Cony

Daniel Cony (Aug. 3, 1752 – Jan. 21, 1842) was a Stoughton, Massachusetts, native who studied medicine in Marlboro, Massachusetts, under a doctor named Samuel Curtis. On Nov. 14, 1776, he married his preceptor’s niece, Susanna Curtis.

In April 1775, when the first battle of the American Revolution was fought, Cony was a doctor in Shutesbury, Massachusetts, about 70 miles west of Lexington and Concord. Soon after his marriage, he joined General Horatio Gates’ army at Saratoga, New York, and was there when British General John Burgoyne surrendered on Oct. 17, 1777.

Meanwhile, in 1777, his parents, Samuel and Rebecca (Guild) Cony, moved to Fort Western on the Kennebec River. Daniel and Susanna joined them in 1778, with their first daughter, Nancy Bass Cony, who died that fall at the age of 13 months. They subsequently had four more daughters, Susan Bowdoin, Sarah Lowell, Paulina Bass, and Abigail Guild Cony.

Daniel Cony was among the founders of the Unitarian church, in Augusta. He served Hallowell as town clerk and later a selectman; became a member of the legislature, first in Massachusetts and, after Maine became a separate state, in Maine; was a member of the state Executive Council, a Kennebec County judge and a delegate to the 1819 Maine constitutional convention.

Schroeder found that in the constitutional convention he argued for renaming Maine “Columbus,” in honor of the explorer. An opponent objected that Columbus never got far enough north to know there was such a place as Maine.

Despite – or perhaps because of – his own lack of formal schooling, Cony strongly supported education, including education for women. His creation of and support for Cony Female Academy are cited to explain why Augusta high schools have been named in his honor.

Additionally, he was representative to the Massachusetts legislature when it chartered Hallowell Academy in 1791 (Augusta was part of Hallowell then) and was on the academy’s first board of trustees. He helped found Bowdoin College in 1794 and, Schroeder wrote, was a Bowdoin “overseer” from 1794 to 1797. In 1820 Bowdoin gave him an honorary degree.

And the four Cony daughters:

Susan (Dec. 29, 1781 – May 13, 1851) married Samuel Cony, her first cousin, on Nov. 24, 1803. Their son Samuel (1811-1870) was Governor of Maine from Jan. 6, 1864, to Jan. 2, 1867.
Sarah (July 18, 1784 – Oct. 17, 1867) married Reuel Williams, member of another prominent Augusta family, in 1807. Their oldest child and only son, Joseph Hartwell Williams (1814-1896) was governor of Maine from Feb. 25, 1857 to Jan. 6, 1858, after Hannibal Hamlin resigned to return to the United States Senate.
Paulina (Aug. 23, 1787 – Sept. 11, 1857) married Nathan Weston on June 4, 1809. He was one of the first Maine Supreme Court Justices (1820-1834) and second Chief Justice (1834-1841). Their grandson was United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Weston Fuller (see The Town Line, Dec. 10, 2020).
Abigail (Jan. 17, 1791 – Nov. 29, 1875) married Rev. John Henniker Ingraham, from Portland, on Jan. 28, 1818, and died in Bangor.

Cony Female Academy

In 2002, the University of Maine provided a Women’s History Trail for Augusta that includes a history of Cony Female Academy, now available on line; and Henry Kingsbury summarized the academy’s history in his Kennebec County history.

Daniel Cony established the school to educate “orphans and other girls under the age of 16,” the University of Maine writer said. He speculated that Cony had in mind not only orphans, but also his own daughters, although by then all were adults and three were married.

Kingsbury wrote that Cony gave the 1815 building and its lot to a board of trustees, incorporated Feb. 18, 1818. The legislative act of incorporation referred to “the education of youth, and more especially females.”

Cony also provided Augusta Bank stock “and other gifts.” In 1826, the Maine legislature donated a half-tract of land, which the school sold for $6,000, and a Bostonian donated a $500 lot in Sidney. The school library had more than 1,200 volumes, given by Cony and others, making it one of the best in the area.

In addition to free education for orphans, the school admitted students who could afford to pay tuition, including boys. In 1825, tuition was $20 a year, with the trustees often contributing $10 a year for out-of-town students.

Besides the school building, the academy had a dormitory several blocks away where in the 1820s students boarded for $1.25 a week. Kingsbury wrote it was built in 1826 at the intersection of Willow and Myrtle streets, and was in 1892 Harvey Chisam’s home. The University of Maine writer located the dormitory at the intersection of Willow and Bangor streets, one block farther north.

By 1828, Kingsbury wrote, the academy’s property was valued at $9,795.

Hannah Aldrich, later Mrs. Pitt Dillingham, was the Academy’s first head, and continued her connection with the school into the 1840s. The Kennebec Historical Society has a picture of her when she was 92 years old.

After the school moved to the former Bethlehem Church in 1845, the original building became a house that “survived into the twentieth century” before being replaced by a filling station and later another building.

Kingsbury said the former Bethlehem Church was moved in 1880 to “its present [1892] location on the Fort Western lot at the foot of Cony Street.” The University of Maine writer said it was relocated down Cony Street to “a site near present-day [2002] City Center,” where it burned down in 1902.

Main sources

Kingsbury, Henry D., ed., Illustrated History of Kennebec County Maine 1625-1892 (1892).

Websites, miscellaneous

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Schools – Part 1

Hodgkins School

by Mary Grow

There are four school buildings in the central Kennebec Valley that are on the National Register of Historic Places, two in Augusta and one each in Winslow and Waterville.

Winslow’s Brick Schoolhouse has already been described, in the Jan. 28 issue of The Town Line. The old Cony High School, in Augusta, now the Cony Flatiron Building, will be a future subject.

This piece will describe Augusta’s Ella R. Hodgkins Intermediate School, later called Hodgkins Middle School, and the old Waterville High School, later the Gilman Street School.

The Hodgkins School served students in seventh and eighth grades (one source adds sixth grade) from 1958 to 2009. when the students were moved to a new high school building. The application for National Register status, prepared by Matthew Corbett, of Sutherland Conservation and Consulting, in Augusta, is dated Feb. 26, 2015. The building was added to the register the same year.

The former school, now called Hodgkins School Apartments on the Google map, is at 17 Malta Street, on a 20-acre lot in a residential neighborhood. Malta Street is on the east side of the Kennebec River, northeast of Cony Street and southeast of South Belfast Avenue (Route 105).

Originally designated the East Side Intermediate School, when the building was finished it was dedicated to former Augusta teacher Ella R. Hodgkins. She is listed in the 1917 annual report of the Augusta Board of Education as a Gorham Normal School graduate teaching at the Farrington School.

Corbett described the Hodgkins School as significant both for its architecture and because it was “associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history.”

Architecturally, he described the school as exemplifying the Modern Movement; it illustrated “the most recent trends in design and construction.” In terms of historical significance, Corbett wrote that the school was an element of “community planning and development, specifically the town-wide development of educational facilities.”

Augusta architects Bunker and Savage designed the “sprawling” building, Corbett wrote. It rose a single story above the ground and was almost 440 feet long, shaped like an E without a center bar.

The foundation was concrete blocks. The roof was flat; the windows Corbett called “aluminum ribbon sash and glass block.”

Both wings had full basements, giving them two useable floors, the lower partly below ground level, Corbett wrote. The boiler room and the shop classroom were attached on the northeast.

He described the arrangement of corridors, classrooms, offices, bathrooms and other spaces inside. The school had a combination gymnasium and cafeteria, with a stage, and an adjoining kitchen. The grounds provided space for a basketball court and softball and soccer fields.

In the 1950s, concrete blocks, aluminum and glass block windows were examples of modern materials, Corbett wrote. The Hodgkins School was also modern in its emphasis on “natural light and proper ventilation”; architectural drawings “included detailed ventilation and electrical specifications, large windows and skylights, as well as advanced mechanical systems for heating and cooling.”

Hodgkins was the third of three schools built during what Corbett said was “a decade long school building program that updated and consolidated Augusta’s schools to accommodate the post-World War II baby boom.”

He continued, “As the second intermediate school constructed in the city, the Hodgkins School represents the conclusion of the city’s effort to create modern elementary school buildings.”

The first two schools built under the city’s 1953 plan were Lillian Parks Hussey Elementary School (opened in September 1954) and Lou M. Buker Intermediate School (opened in September 1956).

While the Parks and Buker schools have been substantially altered, “The Ella R. Hodgkins Intermediate School retains historic integrity of location, design, setting, material, workmanship, feeling and association,” Corbett wrote.

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Old Waterville High School

Waterville’s Gilman Street School began life as a high school (Waterville’s second, Wikipedia says; the first was built in 1876). It became a junior high, then a technical college and is currently, like the Hodgkins School, an apartment building.

Gilman Street School was added to the National Register in 2010. The application by Amy Cole Ives and Melanie Smith, also of Sutherland Conservation and Consulting, is dated June 11, 2010.

The Maine Memory Network offers an on-line summary of the building’s history. Ives and Smith added details in their application.

The central block at 21 Gilman Street, facing south, was started in 1909 and finished in 1912 as Waterville High School. In 1936, a wing was added on the west side for manual arts classes; and in 1938-1939. a gymnasium and auditorium were added on the east side.

The last senior class graduated in 1963, and the building became Waterville Junior High School.

Meanwhile, Kennebec Valley Vocational Technical Institute (KVVTI), started in the (new) Waterville High School building with 35 students for the 1970-71 school year, rapidly expanded enrollment and course offerings. In 1977, KVVTI rented the Gilman Street building from the City of Waterville; the first courses were taught there in 1978, although some classes stayed at Waterville High School until 1983.

The Memory Network writer said that to save money, vocational students did some of the repairs and renovations the Gilman Street building needed.

KVVTI outgrew its new space, too, and by 1986 had completed the move to its current Fairfield location – a process that took six years, the Memory Network writer said.

The Gilman Street building housed educational offices and served other public and private purposes until Coastal Enterprises Inc. “in conjunction with a developers’ collaborative” turned it into an apartment building named Gilman Place. Its introductory open house was held May 11, 2011, as the first tenants moved in.

Ives and Smith said the original part of the building was designed by Freeman Funk and Wilcox, of Brookline, Massachusetts. The school is one of only a “few known examples of educational architecture” by that group, Wikipedia adds.

Ives and Smith called the school’s architecture “simplified collegiate gothic style.” All three sections are brick with cast stone trim.

The first building, Ives and Smith wrote, is a “symmetrical central three-story five-bay building.” The doors are in the two end bays; the central bays had windows on all three stories.

The doors described in 2010 “had Tudor gothic door surrounds with a four-centered pointed arch, white painted paneled intrados, and flush modern replacement doors with multi-light transoms.” Above each door is an arch over a stone sculpture: on the west, an eagle, wings spread wide, above the City of Waterville seal, and on the east an identical eagle above the Maine State seal.

Centered at the top of the building is a decorative stone rectangle with the words “Waterville High School.”

The 1930s additions were partly financed by the federal Works Progress Administration and were designed by Bunker and Savage of Augusta. Each wing is narrower and lower than the original building, and its front projects out slightly from the main building.

The exterior materials were chosen to match the original building, but Ives and Smith documented stylistic differences.

Of the west wing, they wrote, “Designed with more of the Art Deco influence of the 1920s-30s, the Manual Arts Building was simpler in massing and more streamlined in decoration than the original building.”

The east wing is more elaborate than the west. Ives’ and Smith’s description included a “substantial projecting stylized Tudor gothic tri-partite entrance,” framed by “cast stone quoins,” with its doors “recessed within gothic arched door surrounds” under “three original trios of four-over-six double hung lancet windows.”

They continued, “A cast-stone Tudor arch at the cornice level is elaborated by two round relief sculpture plaques of athletic themes (football and basketball) on either side; the arch fascia is infilled with fancy relief scrolls.”

In this wing, the combination gym and auditorium had an 84-by-68-foor basketball court in the middle; 15 “graduated rows of elevated seating” above the entrance in the south wall; and a 36-by-24-foot stage, with dressing rooms on each side, under a “painted wood Tudor gothic arch” along the north wall. “The aisle-end of each seating row is elaborately carved and painted art deco design,” Ives and Smith wrote.

Showers and locker rooms were in the basement below the stage.

Ives and Smith concluded that the Gilman Street School deserved National Register status for two reasons: its architecture, and its role in illustrating, with its 1930s additions, changes in education, specifically adding courses for non-college-bound students and accommodating increased enrollment.

They concluded, “[T]he property retains integrity of location, design, setting, material, workmanship, feeling and association and has a period of significance from 1909-1940.”

* * * * * *

For readers who wonder when this series will describe the district elementary schools that for years provided all the education many residents got, the answer is, “Not until the next writer takes over.”

The subject is much too complex for yours truly. Many local histories cover it, some writers basing their information on old town reports that contained detailed annual reports on each district.

Kingsbury wrote in his Kennebec County history that what is now Augusta was divided into eight school districts in 1787, 10 years before it separated from Hallowell. Eventually, he found, there were 27 districts.

The China bicentennial history has a map showing locations or presumed locations of schoolhouses in the town’s 22 districts. Sidney started with 10 districts in 1792; lost one to Belgrade in a 1799 boundary change; and by 1848 had 19, Alice Hammond wrote in her history of that town.

Millard Howard found detailed information on Palermo’s 17 districts for his “Introduction to the Early History of Palermo, Maine”. Windsor’s highest number was 15 in 1866-67, according to C. Arlene Barton Gilbert’s chapter on education in Linwood Lowden’s town history.

The authors of the Fairfield bicentennial history didn’t even try to count theirs. Three paragraphs on pre-1966 elementary schools in town included this statement: “There were many divisions of the Town into districts for school management by agents” before state law changed the district system in 1893.

Alma Pierce Robbins summarized the difficulty of describing town primary schools in her Vassalboro history: “In 1839 the School Committee was directed to make a large plan of the twenty-two School Districts. They did, but it was of little value. The next year there were many changes and another school opened.”

Gilman Place

An undated, but recent, online piece by Developers Collaborative begins: “Gilman Place has structurally preserved and bestowed new life into a vacant neighborhood treasure, while repurposing it as affordable workforce housing for area families.”

The article says there are “35 affordable apartments in walking distance from the city’s award winning downtown. Gilman Place is an example of smart growth development simultaneously addressing two concerns many Waterville residents shared: how to preserve and reuse the former Gilman School as well as the need for more quality apartments in Waterville.”

Gilman Place won the 2011 Maine Preservation Honor Award, the piece says. It says state and federal tax credits helped the project, and quotes recently-retired City Manager Mike Roy calling the reuse of the building “one of the best success stories in the city in the last 25 years.”

Correction & Expansion of one of last week’s boxed items

The update on the First Amendment Museum should have said that it was 2015, not 1915, when Eugenie Gannet (Mrs. David Quist) and her sister Terry Gannett Hopkins bought the Gannett family home on State Street, in Augusta, that now houses the museum. The same wrong date was in the account of the Gannett printing and publishing businesses in the Nov. 12, 2020, issue of The Town Line.

The First Amendment Museum website says the Pat and John Gannett Family Foundation bought the building. The foundation is named for Eugenie’s and Terry’s parents, Patricia Randall Gannett and John Howard Gannett.

They met in Florida when he was assigned there as an Army lieutenant during World War II and married July 5, 1943. Patricia Gannett died Feb. 12, 2013, at the age of 91; John Gannett died July 16, 2020, at the age of 100.

[Editor’s Note: The online versions have been corrected.]

Main sources

Corbett, Matthew, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Ella R. Hodgkins Intermediate School, Feb. 26, 2015, supplied by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.
Ives, Amy Cole, and Melanie Smith, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Waterville High School (former), June 11, 2010, supplied by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

Websites, miscellaneous.

Scouting lets you escape the inside

Gabriel Daniel Lawyerson, of Troop #216. (contributed photo)

by Chuck Mahaleris

This Fall, as students go indoors back to school, the local Scouts will be inviting those students to join them as they “Escape the Inside.” The Membership Recruitment theme “Escape the Inside” will be used on promotional material such as fliers, posters, and lawn signs as a way of informing youth and their parents that Scouting plans to deliver fun programs in outdoor settings.

“A boy is not a sitting-down animal,” – Robert Baden-Powell, Founder of Scouting.

“Scouting works best when we bring the Scouts into the outdoors,” said Kennebec Valley District of Scouting Vice Chairman Chuck Mahaleris, of Augusta. “Our Cub Packs, Scout Troops and Venture Crews have been busy all summer long having adventures. Scouts in this area spent their summer camping, hiking, shooting at the archery range, biking, canoeing, kayaking, and challenging themselves.

They didn’t get a lot of time to sit down. They learned about cooking over an open fire and how to save someone’s life in the woods. Some of our Scouts went white water rafting and many spent part of their summer helping their community. In September, our Cub Packs, Scout Troops and Venture Crews will be opening their doors to new members- youth who are tired of sitting around and want to get outside and have fun and do things.”

The three largest parts of Scouting are:

Cub Scouting which is fun for the whole family of boys and girls in grades K-5. It’s fun, hands-on learning and achievement that puts kids in the middle of the action and prepares them for today – and for life.

The next level is Scouts BSA which is for boys and girls ages 11-17 and is the traditional Scouting experience for youth in the fifth grade through high school. Service, community engagement and leadership development become increasingly important parts of the program as youth lead their own activities and work their way toward earning Scouting’s highest rank, Eagle Scout.

Venturing is for teens age 14-20 and perfect for those kids looking for the next mountain to climb.

There will be Scouting sign up opportunities in every town and fliers will be distributed to students where allowed, and here are the contacts for the Scouting program in your area.

The Kennebec Valley District of Scouting, which covers Somerset, Lincoln, Knox, Kennebec and Franklin Counties, will also be adding Sea Scouting and Exploring programs later this year.

“Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting worldwide, said ‘the open air is the real objective of Scouting and the key to its success.’ Our Scouting leaders are eager to get the youth in their programs out into the great outdoors of our state and let the Scouting shine,” Mahaleris said.