NATIONAL REGISTER BUILDINGS IN EDGECOMB
Excerpts from the National Register Inventory Nomination Form
THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
The Congregational Church of Edgecomb is the most architecturally significant church building in this small rural community. Construction of the church began in 1877 and, following a four year hiatus, it was completed in the winter of 1881. The composition of its round arched door and window openings and heavily molded surrounds lend it a distinctive Italianate style character. It was built by local carpenter/builder William Henry Decker, about whom little is known.1 Edgecomb's Congregational Church is thought to have been 'in existence as early as 1783, although no extant Church records from the period have as yet been uncovered.2 The organization of the Church was confirmed by an ecclesiastical council on March 4, 1801, during the installation of the Rev. Benjamin Chapman. Reorganization took place on September 30, 1807, when the society was incorporated under the name of the First Congregational Society in Edgecomb. Services were held in the town hall until 1860 when the congregation relocated to the former Eddy School. Construction of the present church building commenced in October of 1877. Following completion of the frame and exterior, further work was delayed until November of 1881. A local newspaper's account of the February 15, 1882, dedicatory service explained that "the people will take great pleasure in their new house of worship for the completion of which they have been laboring the past few years."3 The congregation continues to utilize and carefully maintain the building. Like many rural late nineteenth century church buildings in Maine, the Congregational Church of Edgecomb employs a traditional combination of a tall square tower joined to one end of a rectangular nave. However, it is distinguished from many of its contemporaries by the composition of its round arched windows, especially the trio located on the front elevation, and the vertical thrust of its bell tower. These features, combined with the distinctive original chandeliers in the nave, clearly demonstrate the building's architectural significance.
center window is flanked by two shorter narrow
1. Decker's name appears in Church records as the builder of their edifice. Family traditions holds that he was the son of William C. Decker whose name appears in the 1857 edition of the Maine Register as a carpenter in Edgecomb. Neither his career nor his son's have been investigated
2. References to the Church's eighteenth century origin appear in the Journal of Moses, Esquire. This information wae initially assembled in 1870 by Rufus Sewall, the church clerk. Katherine Chase Owen, Early Edgecomb, Maine (Edgecomb, privately printed,1986, p.25)
3: Church records contain a copy of the article appeared in the as yet unidentified local newspaper. The same article the total cost of the building at $3,455.64.
The Congregational Church of Edgecomb is a wooden frame building composed of a rectangular gable roofed nave with a centrally placed two-stage tower attached to the front elevation. It is sheathed in clapboards and rests on a tall brick basement.
Facing east, the church's principal facade is dominated by the tower. The tall first stage features molded corner boards rising to a bracketed cornice. These corner boards frame a two-leaf door that is surmounted by a paneled round arched tympanum. The whole unit is bordered by an Italianate style surround. Immediately above the entrance is a trio of long, narrow round arched windows covered by wooden blinds. The larger er windows. A carved round arched foliate band in the spandrel links these two windows. The molding which frames the composition is similar to that around the door. An open belfry is located at the short second stage of the tower. Trios ofcorner posts are joined by widely spaced slats, and an arch connects each of the four lattice braces. The belfry supports an octagonal spire which is crowned by a weathervane.
On either side of the recessed nave endwall is a single, narrow six-over-four double-hung sash window with a round arched upper sash. Corner boards similar to those employed on the tower rise to a wide cornice. This cornice carries around the building.
Both the north and south side elevations contain three paired round arched windows in the nave and small segmentally arched six-over-six windows in the basement. A door and bracketed overdoor is located on the south side. The rear elevation has an attached chimney flue and a small shed roofed concrete block addition. Original windows punctuate the basement on both sides of this addition.
Inside, the church retains its restrained but nevertheless handsome finish. A two-leaf paneled door separates the tower vestibule from the nave. Its light wood stain is comparable to the finish on the window surrounds, chairrail and the original curved pews. The pulpit is located on a raised platform with an ornate sawn parapet. The most significant interior feature is the pair of chandeliers which are suspended from plaster medallions above the center aisle. These intricately detailed lights, which are apparently an original feature, contain six oil lamps which have since been converted to electrical sockets. The basement level of the church has been substantially remodeled.
THE STEPHEN PARSON HOUSE
Apart from its obvious significance architecturally, with its barrel ceiling, lofty door enframements and interesting stencilling, this house is important as the home of Stephen Parsons, its builder, a model of early 19th century upward mobility and entrepreneurial skill. Parsons (1778-1862) came to Edgecumb in 1801 with his wife, Margaretta Frederick Randall, daughter of Benjamin Randall, founder of the Free Will Baptist denomination. His career from that point was marked by continuous success, for most of the rest of his life.
Beginning as a surveyer, he quickly became a community .leader and at the age of 26 was chosen as a selectman and moderator of the town meeting. He built his beautifully sited house in 1806 and on the nearby creek constructed a tidal grist mill, a shipyard and a brick yard. He also purchased the schooner "Diamond" which proved a very profitable investment. In 1809 he set himself up as an engineer and was for many years actively engaged in bridge repair. He became the first postmaster in 1811 and by that time was also running a general store. In 1815 he completed the first formal general survey of the entire town of Edgecomb greatly to the relief of the community where land squabbles had been all too common.
By this time Parsons had become known statewide and entertained many notables in his handsome home with the help of his beautiful and cultured wife. He was an active worker for Maine statehood and served in 1818 and 1819 as a representative to the General Court of Massachusetts. When statehood was accomplished in 1820 he became the first state senator from his district.
By this time he had achieved position, prosperity and was surrounded by a fine family. Only after the death of his oldest son, lost at sea at the age of 33, and of his wife in 1854 did his good fortune seem to decline. Nevertheless, until his death in 1862, he was cared for by two adoring spinster daughters who caused his stone in the family burial plot to be inscribed with the epitaph: MARK THE PERFECT MAN.
The Parsons House is a 21 story, hipped-roofed, Federal-style building of frame construction. Six windows extend across the facade, and three on the sides. The simple louvred fan over the door was stolen recently, leaving plain semi-circular boarding. Two chimnies rise from the roof and two small dormers extend laterally to either side of the roof-joint. All windows contain 6/6 sash.
The front hall is pervasively stenciled on both stories, the design being vertical strands of ivy, evenly spaced. Doors throughout the house are Christian-cross, and floors are the original pine boards. An uncommon feature is the cove ceiling of the parlor and the tall parlor door-casings which actually reach into the cove. Recessed bookcases to the rear of the parlor have enframements identical to those of the windows.
THE JOHN MOORE HOUSE
One of the earliest houses in the Edgecomb-Wiscasset area, this structure was built by John Moore prior to 1741 on land granted to him in 1736. In addition to its age it is remarkable structurally as a Cape the roof of which was raised up c. 1765 to provide a heightened ceiling for the second floor and small windows on the front for added light. A house with very similar features and structural history is known to exist in Litchfield, Connecticut.
When John Moore sold the house in 1764 to John Grey, the latter, requiring additional space for a large family, literally "raised the roof". Interior evidence indicates that the roof including the plates and end girts was lifted about five feet and new plates and girts installed on top of the posts and studs. Remains of the original end girts are still in evidence but were cut through to make openings for the second story full size windows.
Of peripheral interest is the fact that in the 1880's the house was owned by Captain William Manson Patterson, skipper of the "Jefferson Borden", three masted schooner, at the time of the celebrated mutiny in 1875. On a run from New Orleans to London, the first and second mate, Patterson's brother and cousin respectively, were both murdered by the crew, but the Captain alertly turned the tables on the mutineers and brought the ship in.
Spectacularly sited on the crest of a hill overlooking the tidal estuary of the Sheepscot River, the John Moore House is an important local landmark recalling the period of earliest settlement in the region.
The John Moore House of Edgecomb, Maine, with portions constructed by 1741, is in origin one of the oldest buildings in the mid-coastal region of this state. A house, ell, and barn are represented, all of which are of frame construction with gable roofs and clapboard siding.
The oldest portion of the property is the house. Originally this was of Cape Cod design, but c.1765 the roof was elevated about 5 feet to admit more second-floor space. Thus, the house was originally of 11/2 stories. This might now be described as containing 1 3/4 stories. This alteration is evident in the unique profile and small second-story windows, but above all in obvious cutting and splicing in structural members exposed in the interior. Fenestration is 9/6, except in the facade's second story which contains 6-light casements. The facade faces west and is 5 bays wide with a central entrance (a full cape). Sidelights were added to the simple entrance early in the 19th century. A large central chimney is set just forward of the roof ridge, which services well-preserved heating and cooking fireplaces.
The ell is of 11/2 stories with fenestration as in the house. This was built c. 1850. -
The barn, with its gabled ventilator, predates 1850 as it is recorded that it was moved to its present location (attached to the end of the ell) in that year.
The interior of the house retains in the front parlors much of the simple colonial wainscot and the five original fireplaces are still operative.
History of Fort Edgecomb Memorial
This interesting octagonal wooden blockhouse was built on Davis Island, in the town of Edgecomb, 1808 and '09 to protect the seaport of Wiscasset. In those days, Wiscasset, with one of the deepest harbors in Maine, was one of the busiest shipping centers in New England.
Shipping was vital to the young nation and the reults were disastrous when it was caught between Napoleon's aggression and England's resistance to it. The Federal Government surveyed the coastal defenses of Maine and Fort Edgecomb, where the channel of the Sheepscot River narrows, received major expansion.
Across the river on Jeremy Squam (Westport) Island, in 1812, earthworks were thrown up and called Fort McDonough.
Fort Edgecomb was patterned after old English forts. On August 2, 1808, Secretary of War Henry Dearborn came to Davis Island and gave building directions. General Dearborn, a prominent Revolutionary and War of 1812 soldier, who marched to Quebec with Arnold, was land agent for the Bowdoin family and represented Maine in the Continental Congress.
The blockhouse was constructed with heavy timber. It is 27 feet on the first floor and 30 feet on the second. The first floor is pierced for the use of muskets, and the second has portholes, like the deck of a warship. The blockhouse stands as built except for necessary repairs. The stockade was rebuilt in 1961 and the powder magazine was, as a safety measure, filled with sand.
While there was no military activity here the War of 1812 proved that wooden blockhouses were not adequate for the national defense. The only time the 18 pound guns were fired was on March 4, 1809 for the inauguration of President Madison.
The present appearance of the octagonal block house is little changed.
Rotted timbers have been replaced.
It is now shingled, and has been as long as we can determine, but it is possible they have been added since original construction as we found two musket balls in the timber that did not pass through the covering shingles,
This, however, is not conclusive, as the shingles may have been replaced.
MORE ABOUT THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES
The National Register of Historic Places is the Nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect our historic and archeological resources. Properties listed in the Register include districts, sites, buildings, structures,
and objects that are significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Maine Historic Preservation Commission, a state governmental agency, has been designated as the State Historic Preservation Office, and it oversees the administration of the National Register program in the State of Maine.
All properties listed in the National Register must meet the criteria established by the National Park Service. This criteria is applied national wide, and seeks to ensure that all listed property are both significant, within the areas of architecture, archaeology, engineering, culture or history, and that they retain their historic designs, materials, workmanship and sense of time and place.