Church History and Architecture

See below for Architecture, the Parish Hall, and the Community Building.

 

History of Our Church

 med3Coming to church on a fine summer's dayOur historic meetinghouse was built in 1820-1821 by Joshua Lamb, who sold subscriptions for family pews. Some of Lamb's descendants still worship here. The building's history is integrated with that of the town, since for many decades, it functioned as both church and public meeting house. Over the past centuries, the church has been associated with several different faith traditions, and often shared circuit preachers with other churches.

 

Toward the end of the 20th century, the

congregation had dwindled to fewer than twenty dedicated souls, and the church was closed for three months in the winter. The pastor at that time was Tacy French. Tacy invited Susan Stonestreet, then a Bangor Theological Seminary student, to preach occasionally. In 1999, Susan graduated from BTS and was ordained here. The congregation called Susan to be our pastor and to keep the church open all year round. Since then the membership has grown to about 100 people, as well as a large online congregation.  In recent years we have built an additional Parish Hall, and added the 1960s Community Building to our grounds.  The Rev. Dr. Susan Stonestreet retired at the end of June, 2017, after eighteen years.

 

Church Architecture

United Christian Church is considered to be an architectural gem. It is one of only two churches in Maine that feature a raised pulpit in the balcony and front door entrances facing the pews, and one of only two buildings in Lincolnville listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The front entrances meant that latecomers could be observed by all who were already seated, and effectively served as a deterrent to tardiness. The straight wooden pews encourage staying awake. Since 2005, the Church has used the new, ADA-accessible back door to the Parish Hall as an entrance, especially in wintertime; but in warm weather, the old front doors often stand open as well.

 

At some point in its history, the church received a suspended tin ceiling, similar to one at Tranquility Grange (also on the National Register). The original woodwork and boxed pews have been retained much as they were in 1821. The window panes are 12-over-12, except for the 20-over-20 center window over the front door.  A great many of the panes are original, wavy glass.  The original front stone steps - not ADA-accessible - have recently been restored. 

 

 

The Parish Hall

For the first century and beyond, the Church had only an outhouse.  PH in summerThe Parish HallIn later decades, there were no such facilities at all, nor any gathering place other than the large space in the Community Building. In 2003, nonagenarian Margaretta Thurlow (a great-great-great granddaughter of builder Joshua Lamb) declared, "What this church needs is a flush!"  After a series of spirited fund-raisers, the church built an addition, designed by architect John Silverio and following standards to keep the Historic Register status.  The building was constructed by Bald Rock Builders and finished in 2005, when we celebrated with an ice-cream social.  Margaretta finally had her ADA-accessible flush, the Church has a welcoming ADA-accessible entrance; and the meeting room is used by church and community organizations for small gatherings, study sessions, receptions, and meetings.  On Sunday mornings, the room rings to the sound of little voices in Children's Church.

 

 

The Community Building

The Commu10 004 smCommunity Building during our annual Strawberry Festivalnity Building was built by volunteers in 1961 on land donated by the church, as a place for young people in town. It provided the only basketball court in town, and was a good place for dances, scouting troops, and other activities for young and old, including, in some years, Town Meetings.  The church has used it for large gatherings, receptions, and events such as the annual Strawberry Festival. Originally, the building was run by a separate corporation, which was dissolved in 2009 after completion of the new Lincolnville School.  Ownership of the Community Building reverted to the Church, as required in the corporation's charter.

 

After half a century of hard use and minimal maintenance, the old building needed a facelift and TLC.  The first stage of a three-phase plan was to renovate the interior, repair the chimney, lower and insulate the ceiling, and install new windows. These changes, accomplished by Oliver Builders, transformed the interior into a wonderful space for events and art exhibits.  The second stage, now completed, has been to install a kitchen and ADA-compliant restroom on the main floor, creating a meeting space available to the community, and already used by our own Soup Cafe and AA, as well as for dances and celebrations..

 

The third stage will add equipment, staging, and other amenities to make the building a desirable venue for wedding receptions and similar events. Architect John Silverio and builder Andrew Oliver continue to consult with the Community Building Commitee on design and construction.  Come check out the facility as it evolves to fit the growing needs of the community!

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