The Head Tide Church will celebrate Maine’s 200th birthday a year late due to the pandemic by participating in the Lincoln County Bicentennial Plus One Pilgrimage.

The church will be featured on a tour of historic buildings throughout the area and will be open from 2-4 p.m. Aug. 15-22, as well as Saturdays and Sundays throughout the month. The Head Tide Church Committee welcomes everyone to stop by, and volunteers will be on hand to greet visitors and answer questions.

Known for its simple beauty and pastoral setting atop a hill overlooking the Sheepscot River, the historic Head Tide Church in Alna has been the subject of a number of famous artists, prominent among them Marsden Hartley, Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. The Head Tide Church was dedicated on Nov. 21, 1838, when Head Tide was a bustling village, supported by mills at the dam, agriculture and apple orchards, boat building, fishing and forestry.

As Head Tide grew, village leaders determined to build their own Congregational church so they would not have to travel the 3 miles to the 1789 Meeting House in Alna Center. They funded it by subscribing, or “buying,” family pews. Although the Head Tide Church differs in many respects from the “Old Meeting House,” the trompe l’oeil window behind the pulpit evokes the velvet-curtained window behind the pulpit in the Meeting House on 218.

For a while the church – and the community – flourished. But post Civil War urbanization and industrialization brought changes to all of New England, including Head Tide. Population decreases led to the closing of the church in the 1880s. A group was assembled in the early 20th century to rescue the building from deterioration. In 1914 the cast-iron kerosene lamp chandelier was hung in the center of the unusual barrel-vaulted ceiling, six columns of the original front façade were replaced with simple carved pilasters, and the steeple with its rare Paul Revere bell was strengthened.

While the 1940s saw decline in church use, in 1955 a new group stepped in to address many years of neglect. They secured title and assumed responsibility for upkeep. Then in 1962, lightning struck the steeple and set fire to the front façade and half of the roof. The Paul Revere bell crashed to the ground in pieces. Once again, the community rolled up its sleeves and provided labor and funding to rebuild the church and steeple and to acquire a new bell.

Although the Head Tide Church has not had an active year-round congregation for many years, it still serves mid coast Maine as a unique venue for weddings, memorial services, lectures and musical events. The Friends of the Head Tide Church raise funds and volunteer hundreds of hours to keep this “jewel on the hill” in good condition, and we welcome visitors from across the country and around the globe with pleasure each year. The Head Tide Church is located just off Head Tide Road in Alna. For more information please email [email protected]

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