Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Goodwill-Hinckley – Part 2

Moody Chapel

by Mary Grow

Averill school, Prescott admin, Kent woodworking, Carnegie library

The Goodwill-Hinckley campus has more buildings of historic interest than there was space to describe in the May 20 The Town Line article, including a third school included in the boundaries of the National Register area.

The Averill School, later Averill High School and now Averill/Alfond School, dates from 1930. Originally a two-story Georgian Revival brick building, with chimneys on either end, it acquired two wings and more chimneys on its new ends.

After listening to school founder George W. Hinckley’s requests for a new school nearer the center of campus, Keyes Fibre executive Dr. George C. Averill (1869-1954) and his second wife, Frances Mosher Averill (1873-1962), provided money for the school, and remained important supporters of Goodwill-Hinckley for years. (Averill also bought, in 1944, the Great Pond property for the Boy Scouts to build Camp Bomazeen, in Belgrade.)

Later, Maine philanthropists Harold and Bibby Alfond supported redoing the Averill School interior and adding a middle school; the building was rededicated in September 2000. The school’s online information says it is coed, serving students in grades six through 12, with a 4:1 student:teacher ratio.

The Averill family also provided Averill Cottage. An on-line photo caption relates its story: on Jan. 2, 1927, during a service in Moody Chapel, Hinckley announced a gift of $20,000 to build another girls’ home and name it in honor of Leah S. Averill, George Averill’s mother. The donor was identified as Averill’s second wife, Frances B. Mosher, of Bangor. Maintenance Superintendent James Tuttle built the two-and-a-half-story wooden Colonial Revival residence with its spacious porch; it was dedicated Sept. 18, 1927.

Frances Moody, of Bath, mentioned in the May 20 article as the funder of the Moody School building, made the donation that led to construction of Moody Memorial Chapel. The stone chapel was built in 1897 and expanded in 1927, after the congregation outgrew the original space.

The architect was Wilfred Mansur (1855-1921), described as the most prominent architect in Bangor in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Most of his work was done in Bangor, including the Penobscot County courthouse, the Mount Hope Chapel and Office in Mount Hope Cemetery and several buildings in Bangor’s historic district.

Moody Chapel is in Romanesque style, which Mansur used on other buildings as well. It features arched windows and a square bell tower. Two stained-glass windows honoring Frances and Mary Moody face east and west, one showing flowers and the other fruit.

The windows were created by Cyrus Hamlin Farley (1839-1934), of Portland. A web page from Church on the Cape UMC, a Cape Porpoise church with six Farley windows, says Farley began a career making nautical instruments; switched to eyeglasses; and then switched again to windows, ornamental and ordinary.

Goodwill School closed in 1909 after the Maine attorney general found its effort to become a college preparatory school violated its charter and state funds were withdrawn. Leaders reorganized and raised money and the school reopened.

After the reorganization, a 2011 Harold Alfond Foundation gift made it possible for Kennebec Valley Community College to acquire part of the Goodwill-Hinckley campus, including Moody Chapel. The college, the foundation and “a team of preservation professionals” went to work to restore the building.

As with the Moody School, extensive reconstruction was needed, including “reattachment of veneer stones to the wall core,” rebuilding “the two buttresses at the front of the building,” and restoring the bell tower from lobby to roof.

Carnegie Library

Goodwill-Hinckley’s Carnegie Library was designed by Albert Randolph Ross (1868-1948), built in 1906 and 1907 and dedicated May 29, 1907, according to Wikipedia’s list of Ross’s works. The Carnegie Corporation of New York donated $15,000 in 1905 for the building.

The brick and granite building is in Classical style. Photos on line show tall pillars flanking a central entrance, with a large dome over the center section and a chimney at the end of each wing. There are basement windows below tall main-floor windows.

An on-line site explains that Hinckley always realized that his school needed a library. As soon as he started it in 1889 he began soliciting books, and within a few years had 150.

By 1904 the library had grown to 5,000 volumes. The on-line site says on New Year’s Eve 1904 the original Moody School (built in 1895; see the May 20 issue of The Town Line, which did not include this recently-discovered information) burned down and the books were lost.

When Hinckley started rebuilding in the summer of 1905, he sought funding from Andrew Carnegie, leading to the grant that allowed construction of the Carnegie Library.

Architect Ross was born in Connecticut, son of architect John Wesley Ross (1830-1914), he practiced in Buffalo and New York City before moving in 1901 to what Wikipedia calls Negro Island off Boothbay Harbor. Some of his many other works include the Pittsfield Public Library (on the National Register of Historic Places) and the Old Town Public Library, both dated 1904.

(A July 27, 2020, letter to the editor of the Boothbay Register, signed by six couples who made up the Negro Island Property Owners Association, announced the island’s name had been changed, by unanimous vote, to Oak Island. The original name dated to the mid-1700s, the letter said, and had been making the island’s residents “increasingly uncomfortable.” The new name was chosen because of numerous oak trees and as a symbol of “strength, endurance and serenity.”)

The first Goodwill-Hinckley librarian was Hinckley’s sister, Jane E. Hinckley. (She was also the first Matron, the first office employee, and the organizer and first director of the boys’ choir, among other roles.) The on-line site mentioned above as a source of the library’s history says the library’s collection had expanded to 12,000 volumes by the time she died in February 1914.

The Goodwill-Hinckley Library closed in 2008. Recently, it has reopened with grants and donations paying for renovations and updates. Like other contemporary libraries, Goodwill-Hinckley’s now offers high-speed internet service, a 3D printer and other contemporary technological features.

The Prescott Memorial Administration Building was designed by New York architect Edgar A. Josselyn and built in 1916. The application to add the campus to the National Register of Historic Places gives the additional dates 1921 and 1922, and one on-line source says the original building burned.

The two-story brick building is in Georgian Renaissance style. On-line photos dated 1916 and 1926 each show a square three-story central tower with an arched window above the entrance and above that level an impressive wooden cupola. The square bottom of the cupola has four clock faces; above them, two receding round towers with windows are topped by a small golden dome and a weathervane.

An on-line slideshow says Portland-based landscape architect Carl Rust Parker (1882-1966) laid out Prescott Drive, a main road through the campus, and sited the Prescott building. He explained to Hinckley that the building should be “in a commanding position, and be easily accessible from the railroad, highway and the rest of the campus.”

Building and (presumably) roadway were named in honor of Amos L. Prescott (1853-1926). Born in South Berwick and later moving to Passaic, New Jersey, Prescott was a successful manufacturer of stove polish. He served on the board of Good Will Homes and donated money for the building.

The single-story brick Kent Woodworking Shop named in the 1986 application for Historic Register listing is another of Josselyn’s Georgian Renaissance buildings, built in 1919. On-line information is lacking.

The woodworking shop might have been successor to the 1903 Quincy Manual Training Building, where students from Goodwill and from outside, mostly boys, learned “carpentry, drafting, printing, and metal work.” The building now houses the L. C. Bates Museum (see the May 20 issue of The Town Line).

George Walter Hinckley

George Walter Hinckley

George Walter Hinckley (1853-1950), a Connecticut native trained as a minister and a teacher, wanted to help underprivileged and troubled youngsters. An on-line history describes his seeing another child arrested for trying to steal from a lunch pail because he was starving. As a teen-ager, Hinckley persuaded his parents to take in an orphan boy.

By 1889 Hinckley was in Maine, “doing fieldwork for the American Sunday School Union of Philadelphia.” He bought the 125-acre Isaac Chase farm, in Fairfield, owned by former Senator Margaret Chase Smith’s grandparents. The farm became the basis of Goodwill-Hinckley, and Hinckley devoted most of the rest of his life to raising money to support and expand it.

In addition to his sister, Jane Hinckley, filling many roles, Hinckley’s older son, Walter Palmer (1885-1963) succeeded his father as manager in 1919; and his younger daughter, Faith Jayne (1891- 1987) worked at the school.

Walter’s daughter Harriet married Donald Price, whose parents had been school employees, and the younger couple also worked there.

The present campus offers a variety of walking trails, a bird sanctuary, an arboretum, an artificial pond, a picnic area and gardening and farming spaces, including greenhouses. Located on the campus are:

  • The Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, Maine’s first charter high school, emphasizing agriculture, forestry and environmental science, some of whose students live in on-campus housing;
  • The Glenn Stratton Learning Center, a day school for students in kindergarten through 12th grade whose “significant social, emotional and behavioral problems” make public school difficult for them;
  • The Roundel Residential Center, providing “safe and supportive housing with specialized support services” for people in need aged from 12 to 21; and
  • The College Step-Up Program, providing housing and support for high-school graduates or GED (General Education Diploma) holders as they work toward a community college degree or certification.

The Goodwill-Hinckley website, provides a telephone number – 207-238-4000 – and an email address –info@gwh.org. It shows a map of trails and monuments on campus and invites people to schedule a visit. The name Goodwill-Hinckley refers to an organization as well as the physical property; donations are welcome.

Carnegie Libraries

Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was born in Scotland, emigrated to the United States when he was 12, invested wisely and became for a time the richest man in America, even richer than John D. Rockefeller. He was noted for giving away almost all of his fortune through foundations and organizations that supported the arts, science, education, world peace and other causes.

A “Carnegie library” is a library built with financial assistance from a Carnegie fund. Wikipedia says between 1883 and 1929 Carnegie money helped build 2,509 libraries world-wide, including 1,689 in the United States. Others were in places as distant as South Africa, New Zealand, Mauritius and Fiji.

Maine’s 20 Carnegie libraries were funded between 1901 and 1912, with the exception of $2,500 awarded in 1897 to finish the Gardiner Library. The most common grant in Maine was $10,000; the most generous was Lewiston’s $60,000 in 1901. The state’s total came to $311,450.

Of the 20 libraries, 18 were or are public; Goodwill-Hinckley’s and the University of Maine at Orono’s are categorized as academic. Eighteen of the 20 are still libraries, including Goodwill-Hinckley, Waterville, Oakland and Pittsfield.

Freeport’s Main Street library was replaced in 1997 and is now home to a private business. UMO’s Carnegie Hall houses the Virtual Environment and Multimodal Interaction (VEMI) Laboratory.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Granges – Part 7

Charles Moody School.

by Mary Grow

Hinckley Grange

Last week’s article was on the two Fairfield Grange organizations, still-active Victor Grange, in Fairfield Center, and no-longer-active Hinckley Grange, with its Hall across the Kennebec River from Fairfield, in Clinton. There is one more connection between the Grange and the town of Fairfield, a connection that brings us back to the National Register of Historic Places.

Maine State Grange voted at its 22nd meeting, held in Bangor in 1895, to raise money to build and equip a “cottage” for the new “Girls’ Farm” at what was then Good Will Homes, in Hinckley, one of Fairfield’s original seven villages.

Good Will Homes, for a while Goodwill Home-School-Farm and now Goodwill-Hinckley, is a charitable organization dedicated to helping orphaned and at-risk children and young adults. Its multi-building campus stretches along about two miles of Route 201 between Nye’s Corner to the south and Pishon’s or Pishons Ferry to the north.

Connecticut native George Walter Hinckley (1853-1950) founded the institution in 1889 as a home for boys, with the girls’ division added not long afterward. By the time Hinckley died, Wikipedia says, the school owned 3,000 acres, had 45 buildings and was serving thousands of young people.

Grange Cottage, 1911.

The original Grange Cottage was dedicated on Dec. 20, 1897, according to an on-line source. The building burned in 1912 and was promptly replaced. On-line photos on the mainememory site, from the L. C. Bates Museum collection, include a 1908 photo of the first cottage and a 1912 photo of the second cottage.

Both buildings were two full stories high with third-floor windows in front and side gables. Each had an open front porch and appeared to have a basement, though in the 1912 photo the foundation is hidden by the snow around the building.

The 1912 building was designed by Augusta architect, Charles Fletcher. It was larger than the first one, and the larger third-floor windows imply more usable space in the gables. The front porch wrapped around part of one side.

(Charles Fletcher also designed the 1890 Doughty Block, at 265 Water Street, in Augusta. See the Feb. 10 issue of The Town Line.)

The second Grange Cottage burned in 1987 and was replaced by a third building.

According to the 2009 Journal of Proceedings of the One Hundred Thirty Sixth Annual Convention of the Maine State Grange, Goodwill-Hinckley had just discontinued its residential program and the use of Grange Cottage. The state Grange’s Committee on Women’s Activities was holding money intended for the building, which Goodwill-Hinckley owned; the meeting report says the money would be “redirected if the program does not start up again.”

Good Will Cottage, 1940.

Grange Cottage is in the section of the Goodwill-Hinckley campus described in the application for National Register listing (completed in November 1986; the property was added Jan. 9, 1987). The area designated as historic includes 33 buildings (two are complexes of buildings), “the original historic core” of the Hinckley Home-School-Farm, on about 525 acres.

Martin Stream, a major tributary that drains northern Fairfield into the Kennebec, divides the historically significant area. The application says the main campus, including the first cottages for boys, is south of the stream; the area where the first girls’ cottages were built is north of it.

Historian Frank Beard, writing the application for the Maine Historic Preservation Commis­sion, explained the significance of Goodwill-Hinckley in two ways. Socially, he wrote, it was “an early home,” perhaps the first in the United States, for “indigent and homeless children.” Arch­i­tecturally, its buildings, constructed between 1889 and 1930, “represent an important concentration of period buildings.”

The description of Grange Cottage in the application is of the 1913 building, the one that burned soon after the campus was added to the National Register.

Another among the 33 buildings is on the National Register of Historic Places separately, the L. C. Bates Museum, listed Oct. 4, 1978 (see below).

Carnegie Library.

The other buildings include three schools, (Charles E.) Moody (built in 1905-1906), Edwin Gould (built in 1926-27) and (George C.) Averill (built in 1930); Moody Memorial Chapel (built in 1897 and enlarged in 1927); Carnegie Library (built in 1906-1907); Prescott Memorial Administration Building (built in 1916 and substantially remodeled in 1921-22); Kent Woodworking Shop (built in 1919); and residential buildings.

The earliest residential building is Golden Rule Cottage, designed by architect Henry Dexter, of Dexter, and built in 1891. Beard described it as a two-and-a-half-story Queen Anne style wood-frame building with a “veranda” and a “rear porch with fan-shaped brackets.”

The newest residence on the list, Pike Cottage, dates from 1935 (and is the only building in the historic area constructed after 1930). Colonial Revival style, wooden, two and a half stories, it has a gable roof and an east-side veranda.

Beard called three cottages, Gifford House, Hinckley House and Price House, part of “teachers’ row.” They were all built in 1904, presumably as faculty housing.

Also in the historic area are Easler Cottage and a cluster of buildings identified as Easler Farm. The late-19th-century Easler Farm includes two wooden barns, a metal-sided animal barn and a garage.

Beard described Easler Cottage, built in 1900, as Queen Anne style, two-and-a-half stories, with a “pedimented veranda supported on turned posts with corner brackets and spindle work.” He listed with the cottage a story-and-a-half barn with a gable roof and a cupola.

Raising the bell to the tower of Prescott Building in 1915.

The sole nameless building listed in the application is a story-and-a-half mid-19th-century wood frame “house.”

The L. C. Bates Museum is in the 1903 Quincey Building, designed by Lewiston architect William Robinson Miller (1866-1929). The brick building is an example of the elaborate Romanesque architecture in which he specialized.

The application for National Register listing mentions the building’s “hipped roof, dormers, recessed round-arched entry, [and] symmetrical round stairwell towers on principal (east) elevation.” A Wikipedia article adds its “distinctive terracotta egg and dart ornamentation, and arched windows.

Inside, the museum has 32 Maine dioramas painted by American Impressionist Charles Daniel Hubbard (1876-1951); impressive natural history collections, from mammals to minerals; and Native American baskets, archaeological artifacts and other Maine historical items.

The Moody School, architect Miller’s earlier building on the campus, honors Charles Eckley Moody, of Bath. A Goodwill-Hinckley web page says Hinckley visited Moody’s two sisters, Mary and Frances, in 1894, a year after Moody died. The visit reminded them that their late brother had favored Hinckley’s project, so they donated $25,000 to build the school. Dedicated Jan. 1, 1896, it was the first brick building on campus.

(The Rev. Albert Teele Dunn, D. D., is quoted as calling the dedication “one of the proudest, happiest days” in Hinckley’s life. Dunn later was honored in Portland by naming Dunn Memorial Church after him, because he organized its congregation shortly before he died in 1904. The church later became Central Square Baptist Church and is now Deering Center Community Church.)

Beard described the two-story Moody School building as Renaissance style, “with hipped roof,…central pavilion with arcaded recessed entry, square-headed and round-arched windows.”

The Edwin Gould School was added in 1926-1927 with funds donated by railroad and Wall Street tycoon Edwin Gould (1866-1933), after he read of the need for a girls’ school on the Goodwill campus. According to on-line sources, the name honors his son, Edwin Gould, Jr., who died in 1917 in a hunting accident.

The building was designed by the Portland architectural firm of Miller, Mayo & Beal, whose members were William Miller, doing his third Goodwill-Hinckley project; Miller’s former head draftsman, Raymond J. Mayo; and Miller and Mayo’s former head draftsman, Lester I. Beal. The firm specialized in school buildings.

An on-line photo from the L. C. Bates Museum’s collection and historian Beard’s description of the Gould School depict a two-story brick Georgian Revival building with chimneys on each end. The building had two entries, one near each end, “sheltered by Doric porticos,” and a wooden cupola atop the middle.

On-line information about the Gould School says it closed in 2009 and stood vacant or was used for storage for four decades. In 2012, officials decided to reopen the building.

By then, there were holes in the roof “leading to severe water damage and rot.” The need for taller rooms on the ground floor required excavation and control of water under the building. Original masonry and interior and exterior trim were restored.

(Gould Academy, in Bethel, originally organized by local citizens as Bethel Academy, was renamed after Rev. Daniel Gould willed it $842 in 1843. Gould Academy’s website says annual tuition is currently $38,650 for commuting students and $62,700 for boarders. This information has nothing to do with Goodwill-Hinckley.)

Colonial Theater update

The restored decorative element, now completed, on top of the Augusta Colonial Theater. Caught at a moment by Dave Dostie – 2021. May.

In the May 14 Central Maine newspapers, the Kennebec Journal and The Morning Sentinel, reporter Keith Edwards continued his description of the reconstruction of the Colonial Theater in Augusta, specifically the elaborate decorations on the front (see The Town Line, Feb. 4).

The Water Street theater has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1914. Edwards wrote that the façade work is part of a restoration project started “several years ago,” after the building had been vacant since 1969. Organizers turned to Maine artisans who had the skills to replicate work originally done in the 1920s.

Total cost of the restoration is estimated at up to $8.5 million. Donations are welcome; they may be made via the website, augustacolonial.org, or by mail to Augusta Colonial Theater Offices, 70 State Street, Augusta, Maine 04330.

People wanting to read Edwards’ article in the Central Maine newspapers should look for the headline “Augusta’s Colonial Theater topped by work of artisans.”

Main sources

Websites, miscellaneous.

Next week: more Goodwill-Hinckley buildings.

Up and down the Kennebec Valley: Granges – Part 6

Victor Grange,

by Mary Grow

Victor and Hinckley

The members of the next Grange to be discussed should be proud to belong to one of the earliest Grange organizations in the central Kennebec Valley area, and one that is still active in its 147th year.

Victor Grange #49 was organized on October 29, 1874, when, the Fairfield bicentennial history says, “a group of men and women met at the home of Mr. James Porter at the top of what is known as ‘Fuller Hill’ in Fairfield Center.” The Grange was incorporated in 1888.

The new Grange started with 29 charter members, 11 of them women. As with the Albion Grange profiled in the April 8 issue of “The Town Line”, at first only farmers could join. By the 1988 publication of the Fairfield history, membership was open to “those interested in farming and in the welfare of others.”

Barbara Bailey, of Larone (northernmost of Fairfield’s seven villages), is Victor Grange’s lecturer. (Maine State Grange Communications Director Walter Boomsma says the title “lecturer” now means program director.) Bailey has been reading Victor Grange’s records (as of early May, she reported she was up to 1914).

The bicentennial history identifies the first Victor Grange Master as Olando A. Bowman. Bailey said his name was Orlando Bowman, with the last name sometimes spelled Bowerman, and the following dates are written under his picture in the Hall: “1874- 75-76-77-78 1881.”

Inside dining hall of Victor Grange.

In their first three meetings, Bailey wrote, Victor Grange members agreed to repair the Town Hall, which they had rented for five years as their meeting house. The 200 feet of spruce joists they ordered were presumably for that project.

They further voted to buy Grange regalia for 30 Brothers and 20 Sisters, one dozen fifth-edition Grange manuals and 100 letterheads. They ordered a cord of wood, and voted to pay M. D. Emery 25 cents a night “to build fires, fill oil lamps and trim wicks.”

Another early vote, Bailey wrote, was “to change the design of the seal to a Lady holding the Sickle,” instead of a man. Other early Grange seals featured a sickle; most contemporary ones show a sheaf of wheat. In 1967, the U. S. Postal Service issued a five-cent stamp showing a straw-hatted farmer holding his scythe, to honor the 100th anniversary of the National Grange.

(Sickles and scythes are both harvesting tools, hence Grange symbols. A sickle, also called a reaping hook or bagging hook, has a C-shaped blade about a foot long and a handle about six inches long; one harvesting with a sickle bends down, gathers an armful of grass or grain and cuts it a few inches above the ground. A scythe blade is only slightly curved, often over six feet long, attached to a six-foot handle with two handholds; one harvesting with a scythe stands erect and sweeps the blade along the ground, laying the grass or crop in rows. George Stubbs’ painting Reapers shows two men with sickles; Jean-Francois Millais’ painting The Reaper shows a man with a scythe.)

In January 1875, Victor Grange members started buying in bulk to sell to members cheaply: half a carload of flour; a “hogshead barreller of Puerto Rican Molasses and ½ chest of Japanese tea” (Bailey says a “hogshead barrel” was 33-1/3 gallons); and that month and in March spices, including cream of tartar. They appointed Watson Jones their agent to “sell wool for the farmers” and report at the next meeting.

They were also furnishing the Hall, buying four stands and two lamps in January and 25 chairs and a second-hand cookstove in March. In March, too, members voted to “Frame the Grange Charter in a suitable manner” and rent a “suitable instrument” (first an organ, later a piano, Bailey said).

By the first anniversary meeting, Bailey wrote, Victor Grange had 94 members. They voted to pay E. C. Jones 50 cents for stabling their horses during the anniversary celebration; and they voted to buy more regalia, three wall lamps, a hand lamp, window-curtains and “bleached cloth for tablecloths.”

They also voted to have an oyster supper and pastry at their next meeting and to buy “a suitable number” of plates, bowls, mugs and spoons.

In 1878, Bailey said, they spent $300 to buy a nearby store, which they used as a members’ co-op and, the Fairfield history says “the Grange home.”

The Hall standing today was planned and built in 1902 and 1903, and the former store was attached. The Fairfield history says Maine State Grange Master Obadiah Gardiner dedicated the new building on Oct. 1, 1903.

Bailey wrote that the fourth Victor Grange Master was Orlando Bowman’s grandson, George Tibbetts. Dates under his picture are 1883-84, 1885-1889, 1901-1902 and 1905, making him the Master under whom the organization was incorporated and construction of the new Hall started.

Another piece of Victor Grange’s history is a wooden chair, with the inscription on the bottom of the seat, “March 28,”87″ [1887] Geo Tibbetts Wedding.”

On Dec. 27, 1979, Ray W. Tobey wrote Grange members a thank-you letter for the Christmas food basket they left at his house. Thinking back over the 77 years to the rainy night when he took his first two degrees as a Grange member, he wrote that “the new hall was in process of construction and the Grange was meeting in the old Town Hall just north of the present building.”

Grange women used to prepare meals for students in the one-room schoolhouse across the street. After the building was no longer used as a school, Grangers bought it and turned it into a stable.

Tobey referred to the stable as the “building in which my father went to school when he was a boy.”

The Grange Hall stands in the south angle of the intersection of Routes 104 and 139 with Route 23, facing west on Route 23 (Oakland Road). The vacant lot just south of the building is being filled for a parking lot.

The large two-story building (plus basement and attic) has one section that is almost square and one – the former store – rectangular, with the main entrance with an open porch where the buildings join. A brick chimney rises from the roof near the junction.

Bailey said the former store houses the entryway, stairs, kitchen and bathrooms. The second floor is the junior room. Junior Grangers are aged from five to 13, she said; from age 14, members are treated as adults entitled to vote in Grange business.

The 1903 Grange Hall, the square section, has the dining room on the ground floor and a meeting room on the second floor, with a stage and a painted stage curtain.

Bailey said the meeting room has a rainbow-shaped tin ceiling that is 15 ½ feet long. Records show the Grange ordered it in 1899 from Pennsylvania, paying $357. It came by boat from Pennsylvania to Boston, by train from Boston to Hoxie Siding, in North Fairfield, and by horse and buggy to Victor Grange Hall.

In the 1990s, Bailey said, the state relocated Route 23 in front of the Grange Hall, moving it so much closer that vibrations from heavy trucks damaged the building. Window panes cracked and even the granite foundation crumbled.

The Fairfield history calls the Grange Hall “the social gathering place for Fairfield Center” for many years. Bailey found records of oyster stew suppers followed by a play presented in the second-floor room; admission was 25 cents, and up to 200 people would attend.

The Grange used to meet twice a month. Programs included assigned readings, which Bailey interpreted as reading local news reports for the benefit of farmers whose spare time and reading skills were limited.

Debates were another feature. Two three-person teams would present opposite sides of an issue, without a decision whether either side won. Bailey sees this activity as educational and a chance for members to hone public speaking skills.

When a Grange member died, the Charter was draped in black for 30 days and a small group, usually three other members, prepared a Resolution of Respect. The resolutions mourned the lost members, often mentioning a specific contribution that would be missed – the delicious biscuits, the work caring for the Hall, the floral arrangements.

Bailey said Victor Grange almost collapsed in the 1990s, as interest waned nationwide and local leaders aged and fell ill. She credits former Waterville dentist Steve Kierstead (Jan. 5, 1921 – Feb. 4, 2006), whose grandfather had been an early Master, with sparking a renewal of interest.

A neighborhood canvas led to the monthly senior citizen meals that continue today. At first, short programs focused on useful information about local politics, social services and the like.

One day a member brought in a scrapbook that contained newspaper clippings and other items, to show another member how he had learned her date of birth. His action led other members to do the same, to copy and to exchange clippings and to reminisce – “some of the most fun things we’ve ever done,” Bailey said.

In recent years Victor Grange has hosted annual sessions with Window Dressers, the nonprofit group that helps people build and install energy-efficient window coverings in their houses.

Bailey said the Hall has a new furnace and is handicapped-accessible, including the restrooms and a stairlift to the second floor. She expects more programs for senior citizens, to save them the drive to Waterville’s Muskie Center or other senior centers.

Currently, Victor Grange members are raising funds for insulation and other energy-efficiency improvements for the Grange Hall.

Bailey said Fairfield had another Grange organization, Hinckley Grange. Its Hall in Clinton is still standing on the east side of River Road, a short distance north of Pishon or Pishon’s Ferry, where Route 23 crosses the Kennebec River from Fairfield.

Hinckley Grange Hall is smaller than the other Grange Halls discussed, but is a typical rectangular wooden building, two stories tall with a peaked roof allowing space for one third-floor front window.

This writer has found one on-line reference to Hinckley Grange #539, in the obituary of former member Martha May Stokes (Sept. 17, 1922 – Sept. 23, 2012), who died in Kansas. The obituary says she was a Good Will High School graduate who “worked as a nutritionist for several hospitals.”

The number assigned to this Grange says it was founded in the 20th century, and Bailey reported that the collage of pictures of Hinckley Grange Masters, now part of Victor Grange’s collection of historical materials, begins in 1920 and ends in 1956.

Victor Grange schedule

Victor Grange meetings are held the second Monday of the month, with a 5 p.m. potluck supper followed by the meeting at 6. The next meeting is scheduled for June 14, the final meeting of the year for Dec. 13.

The Senor Circle meets at 11 a.m. the third Friday of the month. The next Senior Circle meeting is on May 21, and the final one for the year will be Dec. 17.

Public suppers are scheduled for 5 p.m. the fourth Saturday of each month through October. The next supper will be May 22, and the final 2021 supper will be Oct. 23.

Three special events are scheduled in the remaining months of 2021.

On Saturday, July 10, and Sunday, July 11, the Grange will host the Fairfield Historical Society’s quilt show. The show runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days; admission is $5. Grange members will provide lunches and snacks.

The Grange’s annual fund-raising tollbooth will be held in July. Readers ungenerous enough to want to know which day to avoid which road will need to consult the web.

The annual Fall Festival is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 13.

The Fairfield Historical Society holds a barn sale from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 15, and Sunday, May 16, at the History House, 42 High Street, Fairfield. Items offered include furniture, glassware, jewelry, antiques, books, collectibles and more.

The Society’s website says that people attending this and other Historical Society events should wear masks and observe social distancing and other relevant Covid requirements.

Main sources

Boomsma, Walter, Exploring Traditions – Celebrating the Grange Way of Life (2018).
Fairfield Historical Society, Fairfield, Maine 1788-1988 (1988).

Websites, miscellaneous.

Personal conversations, Barbara Bailey.

L.C. Bates Museum to develop virtual programs

The museum is housed in the Quincy Building, a 1903 Romanesque Revival brick school building, designed by noted Lewiston architect, William R. Miller[3] (1866–1929). (photo by W.A. Judge – LC Bates Museum via Maine Memory)

The L.C.Bates Museum, in Hinckley, for safety reasons, is closed at this time and working on developing virtual programs and activities, especially ones for youth. The summer art exhibit Maine Waters and other museum information will be online by mid-May. Their newsletter has information about the museum’s new online presence.

For more information and access to the newsletter, contact Debbie Staber at dstaber@gwh.org.