ADDRESS: Located near the intersection of routes 112 and 202 in Buxton


HISTORY: The original plans for this first meetinghouse in Buxton were made in 1739, but this place of worship was not completed until somewhere between October 1742 and April 1743 at Pleasant Point along the Saco River.

As the community grew, a larger building was needed. In 1766, a new building was raised on the present site of the church — a two-story building, unfinished inside. There were galleries on three sides, and the pastor preached from a raised pulpit with a sounding board overhead. It is said that the seats were hinged and that there was a sound like a clap of thunder whenever the whole congregation sat down.

The current meetinghouse was built in 1822, the day set for the raising of the timbers a gala event. But a crisis ensued — or, as one historian reported, “consternation seized the hearts of the people.” There was no rum to “stimulate and encourage the workers.” It was the custom of the time that those raising a meetinghouse would be provided with at least a barrel of rum.

Suddenly a great shout arose from the people, for coming around the corner with a 10-quart pail of rum was Pastor Levi Loring. He was the man of the hour, endearing himself to his people by “caring for their thirst as well as their souls.”

For 40 years, the Tory Hill Meetinghouse was the only church in town and the center of many town activities, including town meetings and graduations. At times, the First Congregational Church of Buxton has been yoked with the North Congregational Church of Buxton in Groveville, and with the Bar Mills Baptist Church. The congregation has been independent since 1995.

The Tory Hill Meetinghouse is the setting for a Kate Douglas Wiggin play called “The Old Peabody Pew,” which is performed on the first Sunday in December each year, beginning at 5 p.m. with a tree-lighting and carols. This year’s Old Peabody Pew will be the 146th performance of this play, which was written in 1916.

WORSHIP SERVICES: 10:30 a.m. Sunday from September through May; the hour of the summer service is under discussion. Sunday school is incorporated in the morning worship, with the children sitting with their parents at the start and close of worship, and gathering at the back of the sanctuary after the Children’s Time for guided activities related to the Scripture of the day.

OUTREACH: Through Church World Service, the church helps people in crisis all over the world. Each year, it donates funds for blankets and helps create health kits, school kits, baby layettes and hygiene kits.

For several years, the church has had an ongoing relationship with Preble Street Resource Center in Portland, donating gently used clothing and other needed items, providing and enjoying a picnic supper once a year at Logan Place.

Through the Women’s Fellowship, newly named the Mission Fellowship, and through the Tory Hill Christmas Eve offerings, it contributes to many helping organizations in the Buxton area and York County.

Through the York Association of the United Church of Christ, members also take part in the AMIGOS program, providing food buckets to schoolchildren in Honduras.

FUTURE: Concrete ideas that are in consideration and/or planning stages include a children’s choir and a free lunch program for community children in the summer, possibly in cooperation with other Buxton area churches.

CONTACT: Phone 929-4252; e-mail [email protected]; website