Sweden Free Meetinghouse // 1826

Just a short flight (erh I mean drive) from Denmark, you’ll find Sweden… Maine. Sweden is one of three towns of Oxford County Maine, named after Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway & Sweden). Sweden was once territory of the Abenaki tribe who fled to Canada during the Dummer’s War. Present-day Sweden was first colonized in 1794 by Colonel Samuel Nevers from Burlington, Mass. After the Revolutionary War, where he served, Samuel was given a large tract of land in Maine. The town separated from Lovell and became known as Sweden, likely due the . THe started to clear his lumber on his land, and he returned several times a year to his home in Burlington, Mass. for supplies. In 1796, his friend Benjamin Webber joined him and Samuel gave his friend some land for his assistance. Upon his last visit back to Burlington in 1796, he took his bride Esther Trull by horseback, making the 180-mile journey within 24 hours, a record time for this era. The Nevers cleared out land, laid out roads, and built the earliest civic buildings in the fledgling town, including the town’s Free Meetinghouse seen here in 1826. This building has served as a townhouse, community church, schoolhouse, and grange hall. The building was largely rebuilt in the 1860s, giving it the vernacular Greek Revival appearance we see today.

Denmark Odd Fellows Hall – Denmark Arts Center // 1884

This two-and-a-half-story building sits on Main Street in the small town of Denmark, Maine, and has contributed to the town’s cultural life since it was built in 1884. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) is a non-political and non-sectarian international fraternal group that promotes the ethic of reciprocity and charity. It was founded in 1819 by Thomas Wildey in Baltimore, Maryland, evolving from the Order of Odd Fellows founded in England during the 1700s. New buildings sprouted up all over the United States in the 19th century, in cities as large as New York City and towns as small as Denmark. This IOOF Hall is Italianate in style, with brackets at the cornice and hoods and round arched windows in the gable end; it also shows some Greek Revival details with corner pilasters and the pediment. When Raymond Hale, the last member of the IOOF Lodge passed away, the town purchased the old Odd Fellows Hall. The city could not maintain the property and had no good use for it. Residents in town voted in 1991 to sell the building rather than demolish it. Local residents bid on and won the building with the aim to convert it to a local arts center. In August 1994 the owners signed over the deed of the Odd Fellows Hall to the Denmark Arts Center, a non profit organization. From that time until present, the old building, now the Denmark Arts Center, has again served as a community focal point, providing cultural activities for the people of Denmark and surrounding towns.

Ingalls Homestead // c.1794

Cyrus Ingalls (1768-1832) moved to the wilderness of Maine from his relative comfort in Andover, MA at the end of the 18th century. When he arrived to Maine (which was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until 1820), he built a grist mill on Moose Brook in what is now known as Denmark, Maine. Not far away, he built his homestead, a modest 1 1/2-story cape house on the newly laid Main Street where he raised his family. In the home, Cyrus had at least two sons, Cyrus Jr., who would inherit the homestead, and Rufus, who later served as Quartermaster General of the Union Army during the Civil War. After Cyrus’ death in 1832, the property was completely overhauled by Cyrus, Jr., who built a massive Greek Revival mansion likely in the 1840s or 50s, incorporating the former homestead as an ell (seen on the right in the image). The homestead remains an extremely significant architectural and historical landmark in this part of Maine, and is located across from the town’s Civil War Monument, possibly bankrolled by the Ingalls Family.

Denmark Old Schoolhouse // c.1850

Welcome to Scandinavia of Maine, Oxford County! The rural county is home to towns named Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, but no Finland sadly! The land that is now known as Denmark, Maine, was once part of Pequawket, a village of the Sokokis Abenaki tribe. In 1725 during Dummer’s War, the village was attacked and the tribe abandoned the area fleeing to Canada. Settlers established a township with many settlers coming from Andover, Mass. The town was incorporated as Denmark in 1807, and named in a show of solidarity with the country of Denmark, after England attacked Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen that year. The town was mostly agricultural, with some industry along the ponds and the Saco River. The town saw a boost in popularity in the early 20th century as a location for summer camps, including Camp Wyonegonic, founded 1902, which is the oldest girls’ camp in the country.

This building in Denmark Village appears to have been constructed in the mid-19th century as the village school. The vernacular Greek Revival building has very tall, multi-paned windows, Greek Revival trim, and modest proportions which really are pleasing to look at. It shows up on an 1880 map as “Old School House”, and appears to be a private home today. Stay tuned for more on the Scandinavian towns of Maine!

Orrin Holt House // c.1840

Located on Tolland Turnpike in Willington, east of the Town Common, this temple-front Greek Revival home stands in an excellent state of preservation. The home was built for General Orrin Hatch (1792-1855) in about 1840 after his work as a member of the Connecticut State House of Representatives 1830–1832, and in the Connecticut Senate in 1835 and 1836. He was re-elected as a Democrat to the Twenty-fifth Congress, serving until 1839. After leaving Congress, he served as Inspector General of the Connecticut State Militia, until his death in 1855. He likely built this home after leaving Congress in 1839, in his hometown. There is something about a temple-front home like this, they are so stately!

Old Baptist Meetinghouse, Willington // 1829

The Baptist Meetinghouse in Willington was built in 1829 by a local carpenter Albert Sharp, in a transitional Federal/Greek Revival style, common for the period. Its clapboarded facade has a projecting pavilion with two entrances flanking a two-story round-arched window. Four pilasters are surmounted by a wide entablature and the flushboarded pediment of the pavilion. Round-arched windows are repeated on the side elevations and the belfry, which is topped by an octagonal drum and a small dome. The Willington Baptist Church was organized in 1828, started by Rev. Hubbell Loomis, the fourth pastor of the Congregational Church across the common. Rev. Loomis was prominent both as a minister and an educator, and founder of Shurtleff College of Illinois. During his pastorate at the Willington Congregational Church, Mr. Loomis had strong tendencies toward Baptist sentiments. From this, membership of the congregational church split, some leaving for a new Baptist belief and others remained at the congregational church. The two congregations were split until 1911, when they again worshiped under the same roof, as the Federated Church of Willington, meeting in this building.

Deacon Turner House // 1849

The Deacon Turner House, built in 1849, is an impressive Greek Revival house located at the Town Common in Willington, Connecticut. The Greek Revival portion was constructed onto an earlier house or store that was built 50 years prior. The one-story structure was likely moved and incorporated into the current house as a rear ell. The present house was designed by architect Augustus Treusdel of Coventry and built for Deacon John Turner by Emery Williams a well known local builder. John Turner was Deacon of the Willington Congregational Church, nearby.

William Shaffer House // c.1835

This Greek Revival cottage appears to have been built in the 1830s or 40s based on the style, and early maps list the owner as W. Shaffer. It appears that William Shaffer (1799-1892) was hired by the West Willington Glass Works, which ran a factory across the street, and he either built this home or modernized an earlier home to give it the current configuration. The West Willington Glassworks was in operation 1817-1872 and made everything from inkwells to flasks to pickle jars. The house exhibits bold pilasters at the corners and at the entry with entablatures above them. Oh and that red is just beautiful!

Elijah Waters House // 1845

Elijah Waters (1773-1846), a hardscrabble farmer in West Millbury inherited his father’s large farm and resided there for over thirty years before wanting something more his style. Unmarried and without children, Elijah (who was 72 at the time), had this impressive Greek Revival farmhouse constructed near his old family homestead. He was possibly looking to spend money saved up and without a wife or heirs to will it to. The massive temple-front Greek Revival mansion has a stunning doorway and six columns supporting a projecting pediment. Within a year after the home was built, Elijah died. The home was willed to his nephew, Jonathan Waters. The house is for sale for $384,000 which is a STEAL!

Bramanville Congregational Church // 1804

Not just your typical white New England church here… this one was moved! This church was built in 1804 in the north parish of Sutton (present day Millbury, Massachusetts). In the 1700s, the members of the northern part of Sutton petitioned to have a parish church of their own, rather than trekking across the large town to gather for town meetings and religious purposes. They were permitted to erect a parish church inn 1743, and built a church. The building was replaced in 1804, thanks to the wealth and new members of town moving there for manufacturing. Years later, the parish petitioned the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to have the North Parish of Sutton become the town of Millbury, due to the difference in needs being a mill town compared to Sutton’s more pastoral living, and they were designated as a town in 1813. The first town meeting of Millbury was held at First Congregational Church of Millbury that year on the town common. As industry along the Blackstone River picked up, so came waves of workers, many of whom were recent immigrants to New England. It was soon decided that the town church should relocate to provide a new center for town. In 1835, this church was moved about a mile away and erected high on a hill, in Bramanville village, a bustling industrial village. The church has remained in its location in Bramanville, even after the town center again moved, this time eastward to its present location. The Greek Revival style church elegantly reflects the significance of ecclesiastical buildings in early New England towns.