A braided rug show will help raise money to restore the historic Readfield Union Meeting House, which was built in 1828 and features trompe l’oeil, or “fool-the-eye,” paintings in its sanctuary.

The Readfield Union Meeting House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and is the second-oldest brick church in Maine, said Marius Peladeau, of Readfield, president of the meeting house Board of Directors.

The meeting house was available for any Protestant congregation that wanted to meet there; and they did, including Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists and Unitarians. The oldest brick church is St. Patrick’s in Damariscotta Mills.

The Readfield meeting house also was used for school graduations when there were one-room schoolhouses in the region.

To raise money for preservation efforts, the rug show will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, at the meeting house, which is just off the intersection of routes 17 and 41 on Church Road.

At the end of the show, an 8-by-10 “Hit or Miss” style braided rug that is about 50 years old will be raffled off to raise money for the meeting house.

Raffle tickets are available now from meeting house directors and chances for the big rug will be for sale during the show, at $2 per chance and $5 for a book of three chances.

The prize rug was donated by Holly Hock Dumaine, of Mount Vernon, in memory of her mother, Mary Townsend Hock, and her mother’s sisters, Ruth and Marion Townsend.

Joan Wiebe, of Readfield, who is organizing the rug show, said rugs will be draped over the pews during the show.

“The whole point is to get people who care about the meeting house church to come out and see the show,” she said.

Expert rug braider and teacher Nancy Young, of Winthrop, will be on hand throughout the day and also will give a talk titled “Rug Braiding, Then and Now” at 1 p.m.

From 1866 to 1868, the meeting house was renovated and the trompe l’oeil paintings were done in the sanctuary by painter Charles Schumacher, of Portland. Peladeau said Schumacher did trompe l’oeil paintings in 51 buildings in Maine, but the Readfield Union Meeting House is the only one that survives intact.

The clever paintings are done in such a way as to lead the viewer into a scene with three-dimensional depth even though it is an illusion — the painting actually is done on a flat surface.

“In the state of Maine, you can’t find anything like it,” Peladeau said. “There are a lot of pretty churches, but none with an interior like this.”

The meeting house also has several ornate stained-glass windows that have been restored, and it features pews and decorative woodwork done with black walnut and butternut wood.

Peladeau said the dome on top of the steeple had to be removed because it was leaking, and the bell in the bell tower was removed. Two of three clock faces were removed for repair.

The crawl space below the floor also is being excavated and assessed because it contains damp earth. The area will be opened up to improve air circulation, and Peladeau said directors will have to decide how much of the foundation needs to be repaired or replaced.

Peladeau said the meeting house hasn’t been used as a church since the 1950s, but it continues to be rented for nondenominational purposes such as weddings and funerals.

“The purpose of the board is to save it as a cultural and artistic landmark,” he said. “Someone has said it is truly a site of national importance. In terms of interiors from that period, there probably isn’t anything better. Nothing’s changed since 1868.”

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