BELGRADE — The Old Townhouse at Woodside Cemetery could get a facelift, a building lift and a new purpose if the Belgrade Historical Society has its way.

Plans are being formulated to take the 1815 building, add a basement under it, and do a number of other improvements so it can be used as historical society headquarters and for meetings.

Dennis L. Keschl, chairman of the Belgrade Historical Society and a former state legislator, said the intent is not to renovate it to original condition because the members have been unable to determine what it used to look like in its entirety.

However, they plan to highlight certain areas they believe are original to the structure.

The building, which was started in 1815 for $200 and used shortly afterward, was not fully completed until 1834. It served as the annual Town Meeting site until 1873.

“In 1872 a case of small pox appeared in town and the victim, who was an Indian visiting here, was carried to the town house for want of a better place and a man hired to take care of him,” says an excerpt from “The History of Kennebec County.”


According to the book, “He soon recovered and left town but the town authorities did not like the idea of holding public meetings in a small pox hospital so they hired the Masonic Hall. The old town house has been repaired and altered and is now used for a hearse house.”

A detail photo of the 1945 Old Town canoe from the former Belgrade Hotel.

A detail photo of the 1945 Old Town canoe from the former Belgrade Hotel.

The Old Townhouse had been maintained and used until several years ago, and now the historical society has an agreement with the town to use the building.

In fact, proceeds from the second annual Belgrade Historical Society Summer Fair being held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 13 are going to the Old Town Meeting House Restoration Project. The rain date is Aug. 14.

The fair offers a history table, book nook, costume jewelry, lawn, plant and bake sale.

Keschl said the historical society would like to dig a foundation under the building and put in a 900-square-foot basement, which would about double the usable capacity of the building.

“We’d have a place to store stuff in a controlled environment, prepare exhibits and hold meetings,” he said. A more recent addition to the collection is a canoe donated by Robert Acheson which was used at the Belgrade Hotel.


The upstairs would remain looking like an old townhouse.

“We believe the townhouse over in Turner was patterned after ours but made larger,” he said.

The Belgrade Historical Society would continue to use about a 350-square-foot space at the Center for All Seasons as a history room, Keschl said.

Keschl said the society plans to share its proposal with the Board of Selectpersons, including plans for fundraising for the project, and hopes to get a warrant article approved at the annual Town Meeting.

“Then I’m going to go out and raise the money,” he said.

He said the society would not seek public money and already had the promise of some donations.


The Belgrade Historical Society has about 100 memberships, which includes families, and 11 positions on its board. It has a website at and a Facebook page.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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