I really appreciate that we have done so much in Maine to protect and preserve our historic buildings. For example, the beautiful lighthouse in Lubec still stands, thanks to a friends group, and they turned the house into a museum.

My great grandfather was the lighthouse keeper for 30 years in the early 1900s, and there’s a photo of my great grandparents in the museum. There’s also a photo of my mom when she was a kid, growing up just down the road, and a memorial to my cousin David, who worked at the lighthouse until his death at the age of 48.

My sister Edie delivered David’s eulogy at his funeral in the historic Lubec church where my parents were married. A lot of historic churches are still being used in Maine. My wife Linda and I belong to the Methodist church in Kents Hill, and that church is responsible for the Jesse Lee church in Readfield, Maine’s oldest Methodist church. A few years ago, we raised a lot of money to restore that church, and it is really beautiful now. Linda and I were married there.

It’s surprising how history can impact your life. Our house was built in 1796, and I love living in a house that old. It was the third house built in Mount Vernon. For years, an older fellow who was born in our house visited us, and shared lots of stories about our house, which I wrote down. He said he was born in the borning room at the end of our living room.

There’s a lady who grew up in our house who is moving back to the area and wanted to buy our house. Of course, we wouldn’t sell it, so she measured all the rooms and she’s building a replica house nearby. She still says, despite the fact her beautiful house is new, that our house is the best.

A couple weeks ago, I wrote a column about the amazing history of Hopkins Stream, which flows by our house. I loved paddling down the stream and thinking about its history. The Hopkins family lived in our house for many years, and just down the road is the Hopkins cemetery. I must thank Bob Grenier for all his work to restore and maintain our cemeteries.

One church in Mount Vernon is now our community building and another church is now our fire department. Yes, it is OK to change the use of some of our historic buildings. The original section of Mount Vernon’s library was the house and medical office of Dr. Shaw, which he left to the town in the 1930s. Amazingly, that generous gift was not accepted by the town until the 1980s. And our old post office building is now our wonderful café.

A major restoration of the historic Readfield Union Meeting House (originally a church) has been underway for years. They hope to finish in time for the building’s 200th anniversary in 2028. The last project is restoration of the steeple, which will take several years and cost $722,000. I have been inside this building and it is stunningly beautiful. It is one of the earliest brick churches in Maine.

The original steeple was blown off in a winter storm in 1916 and they never had the money to restore it. I love their slogan: “Together let’s PUSH to the TOP… Your pledge is vital!” They’re hoping people will pledge funding help over three years. And the great news is that they have already raised $585,000.

If you would like to help with this important project, you can mail a check to: P.O. Box 451, Readfield, ME 04355, or make a credit card payment at their website, unionmeetinghouse.org.

You might also ask for a copy of the wonderful booklet about the history of this building and their steeple project. I especially enjoyed the photos of this beautiful building.

Maine’s historic buildings are special and important, and I thank everyone who has stepped up to protect and restore them.

George Smith can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected]. Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.


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