Tory Hill Church was built in 1822 and marks its bicentennial this year. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Tory Hill Meetinghouse celebrates 200th

The 200-year-old Tory Hill Meetinghouse is part of the town’s 250th birthday observance Saturday, Aug. 6.

Tory Hill Meetinghouse will play a role Aug. 6 during the celebration to mark the 250th year since the town of Buxton was incorporated. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The church is hosting a lawn sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in conjunction with the town’s sestercentennial celebration and the annual Dorcas Fest, sponsored by the Dorcas Society of Hollis and Buxton, a women’s charitable organization.

The historic church, officially named the First Congregational Church of Buxton, was erected in 1822.

Original plans for the first meetinghouse in town were made in 1739, but the place of worship was not finished until between October 1742 and April 1743 at Pleasant Point along the Saco River, according to toryhillchurch.org.

In 1766, a new building was raised on the present site of the church – a two-story building, unfinished inside – to meet the needs of a growing community. 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,” according to local history.

Advertisement

The current meetinghouse was built in 1822, 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,” and at the time, it was customary to provide at least a barrel of rum for those raising a meetinghouse.

“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,” according to local lore.

Tory Hill Meetinghouse was the only church in town for four decades and the center of many 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.

Tory Hill Meetinghouse is also the setting for “The Old Peabody Pew,” a two-act play written in 1916 by famed children’s author Kate Douglas Wiggin, who founded the Dorcas Society in 1897. The play is performed at the Meetinghouse in December each year.

‘Quilt Show … and more’

Bar Mills Community Church will host a “Quilt Show … and more” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 23, at 13 Hermit Thrush Drive. Quilts made by local quilters along with hooked, braided and penny rugs will be on display. Enjoy the beautiful craftmanship, pick up supplies from vendors and then treat yourself to lunch at the café under the big tent beginning at 11:30 a.m. Entry is by donation, suggested at $5, with a donation of $10 requested for the BMCC Café.

Volunteer drivers needed

The organization Aging in Buxton is in dire need of volunteers who can provide rides for seniors and pick up prescriptions, among other errands.

“There is a great need for this service in our community …, ” according to the town website.

Contact Ellen or Terri at [email protected] to help.

Comments are not available on this story.