SOLON & BEYOND: South Solon meeting house

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

Since I don’t have any recent news, again this week, I am going to put in a short history about the beautiful old church in South Solon, called the South Solon Meeting House.

The South Solon Meeting House was designed in 1841. A small group of men was responsible for the persevering and the financial assistance necessary for the business of building. A South Solon Meeting House Corporation was formed in 1841. The members of the corporation was formed in 1841. The members of the congregation agreed that a bond for the building be put up through the purchase of shares in the corporation. One church pew was to be considered a share. There were 44 pews and when the total number fell short of subscription, the unsold pews had to be purchased by a few of the already existing shareholders. The final price to build was $475. The building was completed before Christmas, and on January 4, 1843, the congregation assembled to dedicate the new house at the crossroads .

Underneath the new Meeting House Gallery, a stove warmed the winter air. Three ministers of different denominations took part in the service.

During the 1920s new highways began to appear throughout Maine, but South Solon did not lie on any direct or traveled route. It no longer had a post office; there was no “corner store.” After the schoolhouse was closed, the area was made part of the Solon School District, and the children taken to the village by bus. The Meeting House center of the life of a small rural congregation, stood inanimate.

The reopening of the South Solon Meeting House after 35 years of being abandoned is a story which begins during the 1930s, when a Maine Woolen Manufacturer named Willard H. Cummings and his wife, Helen Warren Cummings, purchased the fields which adjoined the meeting House land. Mrs. Cummings led a cooperative effort for the repair of the building. Because of the efforts and community interest, repairs commenced during the summer of 1939 with paint, shingles and other supplies donated, and labor willingly volunteered.

During the summer of 1940, services were held regularly every other Sunday afternoon. In keeping with the original proposition that the building be interdenominational, ministers of various sects were invited.

A bold turn in the history of the South Solon Meeting House evolved during the 1950s in a project of five years duration, the interior walls were decorated with fresco paintings by artists from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

(Information was taken from the book, The Story of A Meeting House, by Mildred H. Cummings, published by The South Solon Historical Society, 1959 )

Have told you that I am going through old papers in an effort to straight them out, I came across the following letter in 2012. I’m not going to put the name of the person who sent it, but it is one of the ones that keep me writing! It starts with these words… “I was especially impressed with Marilyn Roger’s column. The story started out tame enough with the news about the super map brought to the Solon Elementary School. The real treat came when Marilyn went on to describe journalism.”Always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice and corruption …These days so many news personalities (I am reluctant to call them journalists), fail to remember the original purpose of the press. The quote from Edward R. Murrow certainly reminded me of one of my journalistic heroes.

It was refreshing to hear so many words of truth from someone writing for a local “free” weekly paper. Someone once said, “The best things in life are free. (This news was in the free The Town Line paper!)”

The person who sent the above letter to me goes on; “I hope that people will always be able to enjoy the results of your effort to publish the truth, both small and large. I do wish you well and hope local folks continue to support your endeavors. My many, many thanks for those kind words that do keep me writing!”

And now for Percy’s memoir: May you have the grace to ask God: To give you judgment to see the right courage to choose the right, and willingness to follow the right; To build on faith rather than on doubts; To move forward in the hope of what can be accomplished and not be held back by what cannot be done; The possibilities in the new and not be paralyzed by the difficulties to be overcome; To discover a sense of mission that life may be important and purposeful for you rather than dull and purposeless; To measure values in terms of service to others rather than benefit to self—Ask always, Is there a better way?


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