Prior to 1899, the Ladies Sewing Circle of Waterford carried on a lending library at the Ambrose Knight store, run by Sarah and Carrie Knight. Interest in the library grew and more room was needed for books. The Knight sisters began construction of a stone building, but both died only a few weeks apart in August 1911 during its construction. The building was completed in 1912. On Oct. 1, 1937 a fire destroyed parts of the library and other nearby buildings. In early 1938, the library’s second floor was reconstructed in the new Dutch Colonial style, giving the library a very different look.
This large wooden building in Waterford, Maine, looks much like a church, because it was built as one in 1844! The building was constructed as a Universalist Church just over a decade after a local Universalist Society was formed in the area in 1830. In the subsequent decades of the church’s founding, dwindling membership by the time of the Civil War required the group to sell the building to local businessmen. The town rented a space in the building which used a floor as a school, after an additional floor was added to the base, giving the building the vertical appearance it has today. in 1896, the Bear Mountain Grange purchased the building as a meeting hall, allowing the school to operate in the building (an arrangement that lasted until 1949)! The building has seen better days, but besides the chipping paint and some wood-rot, it retains the original windows and has been relatively un-altered!
Eli Longley (1762-1839) came to Waterford, Maine by way of Bolton, Mass., in 1789 and erected a log cabin in town. As the first settler to build in this part of town, he owned a substantial piece of property, which was frequently travelled through as the area was being developed. Seeing a need for lodging, he built a one-story tavern in the location of this building, which was added onto and modified as demand and the area’s population grew. Longley would also subdivide some of his land for house lots along the new town common, selling to new settlers as they arrived. Longley sold the tavern in 1817, which was acquired later in 1847 by Dr. Calvin Farrar. Taking advantage of a nearby mineral spring, Dr. Farrar opened a successful hydropathic spa, which used natural waters to cure patients of their ailments. The spa was taken over by Dr. William P. Shattuck, who expanded the site as the “Maine Hygienic Institute”, a hospital exclusively for lady patients employing eclectic treatment. This business and the tourism it generated helped shift the town from a sleepy village to a tourist destination by the late 19th century, where city-dwellers would flock to view the natural scenery and breathe in the clean air. In the 1860s-70s, Shattuck “modernized” the Lake House Hotel with the two-story Victorian-era porch and sawn decorative trim.
The most architecturally significant example of the Federal style in Waterford, Maine, is this c.1810 home built for Ambrose Knight, who operated a store in town. The high-style Federal home features a well-proportioned fanlight over the entrance with a Palladian window above, all with geometric moulding. The home was likely built by a housewright who employed designs from Asher Benjamin’s pattern books for builders, as the high-style features and Palladian windows are uncommon in this part of Maine.
Dr. Leander Gage (1791-1842) came to Waterford from Bethel, Maine in 1817. He erected and lived in this Federal style house which overlooks much of the South Waterford village. Gage was a prominent medical practitioner in town and involved in local politics as a moderator at town meetings and as a school committee member until his death. The home has a Federal style stable and 1840s barn attached and had remained in the Gage family until at least the 1980s.
Built soon after a massive fire destroyed much of North Waterford Village in Maine, the Iocal order of Odd Fellows decided to rebuild, constructing this building for their members. Though active for several decades after the building was reopened, an aging and dwindling membership forced this chapter to merge with the Odd Fellows of nearby Norway, Maine. After, this building was occupied by the Daughters of Rebekah, an auxiliary group of the IOOF for women until 1973 when it was donated to the recently formed Waterford Historical Society. The society has since moved, and listed the building for sale in 2020 for just $10,000!!
The Town of Waterford, Maine was created as the result of a 1774 grant made by the General Court of Massachusetts to the descendants of a company of Massachusetts soldiers involved in a 1690 expedition against the French in Canada, leading to the Battle of Quebec. The land was surveyed in 1774; in spring of 1775, David McWain of Bolton, Massachusetts arrived with his dog at a lot he bought for $40. He cleared land and built a log cabin, returning to Bolton for two winters until he settled permanently at Waterford in spring of 1777. The town grew around agriculture and industry with sawmills built at streams to manufacture the region’s abundant timber into lumber. The town later became more of a resort area in the early 20th century, with urban-dwellers flocking to the area to take in the fresh air and natural scenery.
This church in North Waterford is located in a more rural part of the town, and was constructed in 1860 by a group of local residents from designs by Maine architect Thomas Holt. The Italianate influence is evident from the round-arched windows set in a recessed arch and a bracketed cornice. The steeple looks to be more contemporary and slightly turns, giving it a really interesting presence.
One thing about Victorian-era houses that I love so much is the fact that it’s so rare to find two houses that are the same! The uniqueness and detail is just amazing and stalking these homes never gets old! This 1886 beauty was built as a double-house for Stephen Cummings of Norway, Maine. Cummings was a member of the family which built many of the grand homes in town as they ran a woodworking and carpentry company. Architect John B. Hazen designed the Stick style home with a octagonal bay at the facade, capped by a tower, giving the home a sort of pagoda effect.
The most iconic house in Norway, Maine has to be the Evans-Cummings House (also known locally as the Gingerbread House) on Main Street. The ornate Victorian era home was originally built in 1855 for Richard Evans, who was born in Portland in 1805 and after training as a carpenter, moved to Norway in 1833 for work. He and his wife, Mary Warren Hill, had eight children and they resided in the home until their death. In 1890, Charles B. Cummings bought the house in 1890 and hired local architect John B. Hazen to remodel the house. Hazen added the gingerbread adornments for which the house is now known colloquially. The home attracted a lot of attention in the region, and the later heirs continued that whimsical appeal. When the home was willed to Fred and Cora Cummings, they were said to have kept a stuffed peacock at the top of the stairs, which delighted children when they toured the home. The house eventually became used as storage by the owners of the local Advertiser Democrat newspaper, and its future was threatened. Since 2012, a local group, Friends of the Gingerbread House, have poured tens of thousands of dollars and an equal amount of time restoring the iconic home to her former glory! Preservation is important!
The most substantial building on Norway’s Main Street is this hefty brick commercial block with its prominent corner clock tower. The structure was designed by Maine architect Edwin E. Lewis and built in 1894 as the Opera House with stores along the ground floor. The building was constructed immediately after a large fire destroyed much of the downtown village area of Norway, and was built in such a way to show the strength and resolve of the town, leading the way for a larger re-building effort by the local business community. The Romanesque Revival building features lovely arched windows and brick detailing. The building has seen better days, but a local group has been working tirelessly to restore this beauty to her former glory! The group is presently soliciting donations to restore the roof and rear wall, to keep the building standing for future generations.