Become a Member because…

Very few people belong to an organization because they get “tangible benefits.” They decide to support a worthy cause because they know the need exists. With the Union Meeting House it is a love of community and a respect for those who, in earlier times, created a unique historic entity.

Think of Readfield without the Union Meeting House which sets Readfield apart from all the surrounding towns and gives it a panache that is unmistakable. It is historic, artistic, cultural, and also serves as a community gathering place.

November 2010 ~ News & Update

Last month the UMH page in the Messenger talked about the work that started on the five most endangered windows. Thanks to a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which the Meeting House had to match, the five window casings were scraped, primed and painted for the first time in over a century. The second stage now involves the cutting of large Lexan panels to cover the casings. The Lexan (a brand-name specialty plastic sheeting) has just arrived and shaping and installation of the Lexan will be undertaken by the contractor, Joseph Caputo of East Pittson. This is not an easy job since the Lecan will have to be carefully cut at the top to match the rounded window casing and weep holes and spacers installed so that condensation will not
accumulate on the wooden casing and rot the wood. Once the Lexan in installed it will protect the newly painted casings from the weather and allow the later removal of the window sashes for extensive restoration.

The UMH Board was pleased in October to host members of the Meggison family from out-of-state. The two brothers and one sister are all direct descendents of the Nickerson family (after which Nickerson Hill Road is named). After a tour of the Meeting House they kindly offered to pay for the needed restoration of the Nickerson family window at the Meeting House. The $1,000 cost will be donated over a period of three years. We thank the Meggisons for this most generous gesture and we also thank our Advisory Board member, Evelyn A. Potter, for the genealogical research that allowed us to be in touch with the current members of this historic, old Readfield family. In all, the Brick Church has seventeen windows so persons interested in adopting a window, and memorializing their family with a plaque, are encouraged to get it touch with the Board.

Mrs. Rochelle Bohm of Bangor, a staff member of Maine Preservation, the statewide citizens group working so hard to develop an awareness of historic buildings, came to Readfield in October to meet with the Board and to give it the benefit of her experience. All the Board members felt it was a profitable meeting and will be working to implement some of Mrs. Bohm’s suggestions. Both Maine Preservation and the Maine
Historic Preservation Commission have strongly urged the Union Meeting House to apply for a Historic Preservation Community Block Grant that could be used to assist in the restoration of the building. The Board has been in touch with Town Manager, Code Enforcement Officer, and Mrs. Gail Chase of the Kennebec Valley Council of Governments on this matter. The next steps are to schedule a public hearing in Readfield to allow for community input which, hopefully, will lead to Town approval at an upcoming Selectmen’s meeting. The Town, which willl administer the grant, (if received), must send in its Letter of Intent in early December. The Public Hearting date will be announced in local newspapers and at the Town Office Bulletin Board. The UMH encourages all residents to attend and support the restoration of this local landmark building.
The cost of the renovation of the Brick Church and its continued maintenance is so large that private funds alone will not meet the expense. Grant funds will have to pay an important role in raising the necessary funds to do all the work that has been deferred for 25 years.

At its last meeting the Board nominated and elected Mrs. Barbara Boenke of Readfield to the Board. Barbara has been serving since early this year on the Advisory Board and it is a pleasure to welcome her as a full voting member of the Board. A former school teacher in Chicago and for the Department of Defense in Germany, she has also been a school librarian and a museum curatorial assistant. She and her husband, Warren,
moved to Readfield in 2004. They built a home at Camp Menatoma where they reside year-round.

So that everyone can know who is involved in the UMH, we list below the members of the Board and Advisory Board. Board: President Marius B. Peladeau, Secretary/Treasurer Donn Harriman, Barbara Boenke, Florence Drake, Joan Wiebe and Milton Wright. Advisory Board: Buzz Butler, Brianne McNally, Rev. Karen Munson
and Jack Smart.

September 2010 ~ News & Updates

Our membership has been busy throughout this summer planning and holding fundraising events – proceeds will assist us towards making much needed repairs and inititating our restoration projects. 

Bring all our old items for a professional appraisal at the Union Meeting House in Sunday, September 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A team of experts in different fields of antiques will be on hand to give you an idea of what you have collected or inherited from your family is worth in today’s antique market. For the modest fee of $10 for one item, $18. for two, and $25. for three, anyone can present their antique to the appraisal team. Among those scheduled to attend are Bruce Buxton of Portland, noted Maine auctioneer and appraiser who specializes in art, furniture, decorative arts, textiles and ceramics. Beth Turner of Damariscotta, certified by the Gemologist Institute of America, will handle all jewelry, and Brian Harding of Wells, a book dealer who has broad expertise in the field, will do books and paper items. Marius B. Peladeau of Readfield, a Fellow of The Company of Military Historians, will appraise antique militaria and firearms pre-1873. The appraisers are donating their travel and fees so that all income will go to help in the continued restoration of the Meeting House. It is recommended that persons bring antiques, not collectables and no bottles, coins or stamps. Everything else is fair game so bring something to test the appraisers’ knowledge and be rewarded with an up-to-date valuation of those old items you prize so much. Look to local papers for more details. For information in advance call 685-4537
Dave Mallet Concert a Great Success
The Board of the Meeting House thanks everyone who came to the Dave Mallet concert in August and made it such a success. Mr. Mallet was very appreciative of the enthusiastic crowd and the friendly reception he received. The church looked full and it was a perfect evening. A goodly sum was raised and it has been deposited into the Meeting House’s fund for restoration. Making the night a gala event was the result of a lot of hard work by a dedicated corps of volunteers. Due the greatest appreciation are Board member Flo Drake (the captain of the ship) and her husband, Bill (the first mate). Also helping man the ship were Board members Joan Wiebe, Secretary/Treasurer Donn Harriman and President Marius B. Péladeau. At intermission a table full of sweets and drinks were available for a donation. Assisting in assembling this buffet by obtaining donated items were Advisory Board members Evelyn Potter and Holly Hock Dumaine, as well as The Country Moose. Ann Mitchell, Mildred Péladeau,Mrs. Drake and the Readfield Family Market, all of Readfield, the Old Post Office Café of Mt. Vernon, the Apple Shed Baker of Kents Hill, and Holly Randall of Fayette.

Most important were those who provided funds to help defray Mr. Mallett’s fee so that as much as possible of the tickets receipts would be pure profit. The Meeting Houses wishes to acknowledge especially (in alphabetical order): Savings Bank of Maine in Readfield, Attorney Stephen Hayes of Augusta, Dr. Philip Tedrick of Readfield and the Winthrop Credit Union.

August 2010 ~ News & Updates

This spring an examination of the apse at the rear of the Brick Church revealed that bricks were falling out of the top northwest corner. If this was allowed to continue
the roof would have no support at that point. In addition it was found serious cracks had developed over the two windows and that all the mortar was badly eroded. Bids were solicited and the winning contractor, Jon Jennings of Forgotten Stoneworks in Manchester and Hallowell, was retained to do the work. The Board of Director of the Brick Church is extremely pleased with his professional work, completed a few weeks ago, and now the apse is in good condition. However, this was an emergency, unexpected repair that was not budgeted and forced the Board to dip into its funds at a time when the money was earmarked elsewhere. Help the Union Meeting House restoration. Become a member. Call 686-4537 for more details on how you can assist the church.

July 2010 – News & Updates

This has been a good month for the Union Meeting House. The response to membership solicitation packet which was sent out in mid-May was encouraging results and the money people have sent in is much appreciated. Even if you did not receive a letter but wish to do so please contact us at the address below. If you are interested in volunteering
to do simple, easy things at the Meeting House we’d love to hear from you.

CONGRATULATIONS to Ann Harriman and Joshua Long who were married in a beautiful ceremony at the Meeting House on June 4th. We wish them a long and happy life together.

AND MORE CONGRATULATIONS to our neighbor, St. Andrews Episcopal Mission,which will be celebrating its 50th anniversary very shortly. The UMH Board extends its sincere best wishes on reaching this important milestone.

With the flurry of envelopes coming in with membership donations it was surprising, one day, to get a notice from the Post Office that there was a box waiting for the UMH. In it was a membership check but also, carefully wrapped in tissue, a delicate, tiny teacup with a picture of the Union Meeting House on its side. It was sent by Rev. and Mrs. Peter Bridges. He was, some may remember, the first fulltime pastor when the five Readfield churches were united in 1961. The little cup was made by a transfer process in Germany at the turn of the last century. It has a piece of tape on the bottom stating it was a gift in 1907 “To Laura from Oremell (or Cremell) Hunton. Of course, Hunton is a good Readfield name but who was Oremell and who was Laura? The transfer was obviously taken from a postcard in the UMH collection (gift of Holly Dumaine) that shows the exact same scene, even to the size of the trees on the lawn, which today are monster maples. Of course everyone recognizes that the cup and postcard show the Brick Church’s original spire on top of the steeple. It blew down in December 1916 and the current dome was built to cap the big hole that resulted. The Meeting House thanks Rev. Peter and Mary Ellen Bridges, who now live in Burlington, Vt., for remembering their years in Readfield by this delicate gift.

June 2010 – News & Updates


Dave Linton of ATL Tree Service in Readfield spent several days at the Union Meeting House trimming trees that were growing too close to the building. His donated services are much appreciated!

By now nearly everyone in Readfield has probably received a letter from the Union Meeting House announcing the commencement of its 2010 membership campaign. Since the mid-1980s practically no maintenance or restoration has taken place and so the building faces a number of serious challenges. If you wish to see it continue into the new century please consider becoming a member. We especially appeal to businesses in town for their assistance. The address to contact us is below. We are pleased at the number of Readfield residents and summer visitors who have responded already.

Those who have driven by the Brick Church have noticed a big change in the trees on the north side. They had grown so large and thick that that blocked sunlight and hindered the wind providing ventilation on that side. As a result moss was growing on the brick, which is not good for it and the dampness was accelerating the rotting of the 182-year-old windows sashes. Thanks to Dave Linton of ATL Tree Service the evergreens were trimmed and a large oak overhanging the roof was cut back. If that branch had broken off in a storm it would have done severe damage. The Board of the Meeting House thanks Mr. Linton for his several days of labor, which he donated at no charge. It is gesture such as this that encourages the Board to push ahead to try and save the building.
We are seeking very careful workmen to restore two of the window casings and sashes in the Church. Since the building is on the National Register of Historic Places only qualified persons should apply.

In April The Board and Advisory Board members did a clean-up of the outside and inside of the Church to prepare it for the upcoming summer season. Flowers were planted and the grounds look much better. There is a wedding scheduled in June and a Quaker Memorial service in July. If you want to book the Meeting House for a wedding, concert or other function let us know well in advance.

The Board also thanks Advisory Board member Joy Bonnefond for bringing some working from Kents Hill School to aid in the clean-up. It also thanks Rev. Karen Munson of Torsey Methodist Church, also on the Advisory Board, and Mrs. Tamara Stockwell, school librarian, for having students help with the membership mailing mentioned above. Their help is appreciated.

The Union Meeting House is seeking a careful, meticulous person to restore two windows at the Church. He/she must be able to replace glass, glaze, scrape,prime and paint both
sashes and casings. Some careful woodworking skills required. May lead to further
window work. Must be insured, give references and show examples of
previous work of this type. Call 685-4537.

May 2010 News & Updates

The Union Meeting House – or as older folks in town will remember it – The Brick Church is moving ahead. At the April Board meeting the new membership brochure was approved and is now off to the printer. When Ernest Bracy oversaw the Meeting House he had a membership program and sent out occasional newsletters. On his death it lapsed but now the Board and Advisory Board have decided to resurrect the membership program since they have received inquiries on how citizens of Readfield and surrounding towns can support the Meeting House which so obviously shows it needs upkeep. We will have more details on the membership drive in our next report in the “Messenger.”

One of the big problems confronting the building is the lot on which it stands. Although at first glance it appears to be elevated on a little knoll, after 183 years water and snow coming off the roof has eroded a ditch at ground level. Thus, the water is not draining away from the building but is seeping back under the foundation and into the crawl space. This keeps everything under the floor very damp and, as a result, the framing timbers that hold up the floor are rotting and the floor and pews are sagging. In addition the way the lot slopes up rather than down in the back of the church causes rain water to flood into the basement.

Mr. Doug Riley, a talented professional civil engineer (at 22 Church Rd.), has most kindly offered his services to fix this problem. He will survey the lot and come up with a new site plan that will completely repitch the grade. Then, he will draw up a set of specifications so that the Meeting House can put out to bid the job of regrading the land. This will also necessitate the removal of a septic field at the front of the church which has too high a mound, and of pumping the septic flow up back into the septic system in back of St. Andrews Mission. Hopefully local contractors will be able to come forward to do the work and help the Meeting House solve this serious problem. There is no use replacing the floor until we solve the dampness problem. It is obvious to all that since the floor holds up the walls, repairing the floor framing members is of the highest priority or else we stand the chance of damaging the beautiful painted murals on the walls.

The entire Board extends its deep appreciation to Mr. Riley for offering to do this work at no cost to the Meeting House. His extreme interest in saving the Meeting House is pleasing to the Board since it indicates that town folk recognize the importance of saving this building for future generations. While the Board is handing out thanks, it wants to mention that Ron Simons, the talented photographer on the Winthrop Road, known to all in town, has taken professional photographs of the Meeting House’s glorious interior. He also donated his services and this is much welcome. Naturally, every penny the Board can save can be applied to the restoration. Mr. Simon’s photographs will be useful as the Board seeks funds to conserve the Brick Church. Having these pictures available to send to a Foundation far out of town shows what the Meeting House looks like much better than mere words. Thanks to Mr. Simons and Mr. Riley.