READFIELD – A loud beeping cut through the chatter at the Readfield Historical Society’s annual wine and cheese social.

After the guests fell silent and the beeps stopped, society President Flo Drake stepped forward.

“That is what you will hear if the septic tank ever gets full,” she said. “We thought it was a good way to get everyone’s attention.”

As Drake explained, Friday was a big day for Readfield Historical Society and the 1853 schoolhouse that houses its museum and office. With one flush of a toilet, they joined the 21st century.

The building served as a schoolhouse until the construction of Readfield Elementary School in 1955, but it never had running water. An annex with a privy pit was built in the early 1930s.

But it wasn’t a very nice facility, recalled Evelyn Potter, 80, the society’s historian.

The annex continued to deteriorate until it wound up with mold in the walls and a leaky roof. The historical society’s board talked about taking it down and installing running water as early as the 1990s, Drake said, but nothing was ever done.

Things came to a breaking point a couple of years ago when the privy seat gave way underneath a docent.

Drake sent out a letter last year seeking donations, and members came through in a big way. In a matter of months, they raised about $25,000, treasurer Lee Hepfner said.

The project has cost about $30,000 so far, and the walls still need to be finished, among other work. The first floor of the addition will provide work and office space, in addition to the bathroom, and the windowless second floor will be used for archival storage.

Maranacook Market, next door, is providing the water, since the society could not afford a well.

The toilet had its first flush on Thursday as a test, but it was publicly inaugurated Friday.

Augusta resident Tom Adell, 83, snipped a “ribbon” of toilet paper and colorful streamers stretched across the door, then poured a little sparkling wine into the toilet bowl and flushed.

Adell donated the last bit of money needed to get the bathroom done, Drake said, and asked that it be named the Barbara H. Fogg Necessary Room.

Fogg was Adell’s longtime friend and partner for the last years of her life. She died of cancer in 2008.

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Susan McMillan can be contacted at 621-5645 or at:

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