Wednesday, December 11, 2013
There are places in Biddeford that you'd never have the chance to see. At least not without a breaking and entering charge filed against you.
But Heart of Biddeford's Secret Spaces, Historic Places tour is back for the third year, giving tour goers a peek into some of the city's under-lock-and-key locations. The self-guided tour takes place on Saturday, June 4 from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 and interested folks are encouraged to register in advance at www.heartofbiddeford.org.
But you're a sensible person. You don't want to spend the money without knowing what you're going to get for it. You've got budgets to think about. You've got to weigh your options. So to help you out, here's a sneak peek at the top-secret tour stops:
Under the #10 Mill - a place once flooded by cotton and Vellux blankets - is a hidden lagoon. Redirected water from the Saco River flowed through the underground tunnels beneath the building and the space was kept under tight wraps - mill workers rarely even saw it.
The water stopped flowing decades ago when that newfangled electricity took over, but the huge subterranean room still exists. The space is still and quiet now, aside from the echoing trickle of ground water and, possibly, a pirate skeleton and Chunk from Goonies hiding out in one of the dark tunnels.
In the floors above the now-vacant space once occupied by Reny's (aka, the O.H. Staples building) is a large and dormant theater. The dancing of dust particles seems to be the only theatrics these walls have seen in decades. It's rumored that the space may have been used for boxing matches and also served as a movie theater.
It's a mystery what rituals took place in the Laconia Building when the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) where there. The fraternal organization was dedicated to altruistic and charitable acts. Or, if you have a devious imagination and/or read books by Dan Brown, they may also be the keeper of centuries-old secrets and religious relics.
Alternating and incongruous staircases lead the way up to the the City Hall clock tower where the historic clock is on "sleep status" until funds are raised to repair it. Until then, it's 1 p.m. all the time.
The clock was built in 1895 by Howard Clock in Boston, but was mechanized in the 1980s. The bell stopped ringing a while back but the clock itself went caput just last year. The city is hoping to return it to its original state when they're able to raise the money to do so. There's also some entertaining writing on the walls up there, including: "O.J. Simpson 1982 I didn't do it"
In addition to the tour, attendees can take part in the Taste of the Town event happening simultaneously. Free samples from a dozen or so local eateries will be available to ticket holders. And the Grand Finale livens things up in Mechanic's Park from 4 to 6 p.m., where Capt'n Eli's Soda and music from Ameranouche will keep folks content. Funds raised help support Heart of Biddeford.
Now that's worth $25, wouldn't you say? FMI: Secret Spaces, Historic Places: 1:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday, June 4 | $25 | www.heartofbiddeford.org or 286-8520.Tweet
Shannon Bryan, content producer for MaineToday Media, likes exploring Maine - from mattress races to cardboard boats, she's into the weird stuff.
Karen Beaudoin, online editor for MaineToday Media, likes knowing the important things - like who's just opened their deck for a sunny afternoon beer and what Portland's eclectic set of street performers are up to.