Although authentic records are not easily come by, it seems to be the consensus of early
writers of Pittsfield history that two outstanding personalities arrived in town at about the
As we have mentioned earlier, Ann Gould at the age of 13 came to Pittsfield from
Norridgewock in 1832 to teach school at the home of her uncle, Moses Martin. Going Hathorn, a
young business man of 26, arrived during the same year. Ann Gould taught for thirty
consecutive terms in this area and contributed much to the cultural life of the town. As Mrs.
William K. Lancey, she lived a long and useful life during some of the most exciting and
stimulating periods of our history. She was a gracious and beloved figure throughout those
years. Going Hathorn, an aggressive and farsighted individual, launched his business career
almost immediately after his arrival by purchasing from Jesse Connor his interest in the mill
property on the site of what is now the Edwards plant. The coincidence of their arrival in
Pittsfield is interesting principally because both in their own way contributed so much to the
cultural and industrial growth of the town during a vital period of its history.
PENOBSCOT AND KENNEBEC RAILROAD COMPANY
A most important milestone in the history of Pittsfield was the coming of the Railroad in
1854. Mr. Joseph H. Cobb, Director of Public Relations for the Maine Central Railroad, has
kindly furnished me with considerable detail concerning the many problems met and solved
before the actual construction of the road could begin. Although it would be interesting to
include all of this material, space does not permit it and I shall mention only some of the
The Penobscot and Kennebec Railroad Company was incorporated on April 7, 1845 and
authorized to construct from some point between the south line of Gardiner and the north line
of Waterville, and from that point in the general direction of Bangor. All lands were to be
purchased and taxed in the same
manner and rate to be as that of other real estate of the same
quality. The Corporation was to be organized and its location filed on or before December 31,
1850. If the road was not constructed before December 31, 1860, its charter would be voided.
The company was finally organized on November 27, 1850 with a total of 4066 shares of stock
subscribed. The Legislature extended the time of filing locations to June 3, 1853.
A great deal of discussion arose as to the gauge to be used. The Androscoggin and Kennebec
was opened on a broad gauge (5' 6") while the Somerset and Kennebec was on a narrow gauge
of 4' 8½. The argument continued for several years and was known as the War of the
On December 29, 1852 a provisional contract for construction was made with W. B. S. Moor
and Col. James Dunning of Bangor. After considerable haggling over the cost per mile, at first
for $25,000 a mile, then later for $20,000, the committee on construction finally submitted a
contract to Moor and Dunning for the construction of the whole road from Waterville to Bangor
for one million dollars plus the excess of the cost of iron over $50 per ton.
By late November 1854, the road had been completed from Waterville to Pittsfield except for
the bridge over the Kennebec.
On Monday, July 2, 1855, the line was operated between Waterville and Pittsfield on a
regular schedule, as this first notice indicated: Leaving Pittsfield at 5:15 and 10:20 A.M.
for Waterville to connect with trains for Portland and Boston.
Returning, leave Waterville on arrival of each train from Portland.
Stages run daily between Bangor and Pittsfield.
At the time this timetable was issued, all of the rails were laid except for about 2 miles
in Newport. The last iron left Bangor on July 23 and in the afternoon of July 26 a special
train with about 70 guests made the first trip between Waterville and Bangor in two cars.
This must have been the trip I have heard my grandmother tell about. She lived in the
southeast section of Palmyra and on the day the first train went through, everyone in the area
came down to Detroit to see the great sight. The yard was filled with
carriages and many of
the ladies were standing on the bank of the tracks shading themselves with their parasols. As
the puffing engine ground to a halt, horses began to get uneasy in spite of the calming talk
of the men. The climax came when the engine blew off steam. Complete chaos resulted. Horses
took off in all directions with drivers straining at the reins, and women in their long
dresses, ponderous hats, and dainty parasols followed up the dusty road. As the ladies got a
safe distance away, they stopped, stuffed their fingers in their ears and waited for the whole
thing to blow up.
This could have been the good old proved locomotive, the George W. Pickering, which later
on July 30, 1855 made the first scheduled run over the 55-mile road from Bangor to
On August 7th of that year, the following timetable was issued:
Leave Bangor 8:30 AM
Newport 10:08 AM
Arrive Waterville 11:30 AM
Leave Waterville 5:00 PM
Newport 6:22 PM
Arrive Bangor 8:00 PM
Fare: Bangor to Portland $3.25
Bangor to Boston $5.00
It was not until October 28, 1862, that the Androscoggin and Kennebec and the Penobscot and
Kennebec, meeting in Waterville, combined their facilities, capital and managerial staffs and
organized under the name of the Maine Central Railroad.
Like a huge artery pulsating with life and strength, the Penobscot and Kennebec brought new
vigor and spirit into the civic life of Pittsfield. What had been a rather sleepy and listless
community turned into a bustling village. The building of the railroad itself brought new life
and hope. With the coming of scores of laborers, the construction of the temporary spur tracks
to the rich gravel beds, and the laying of the iron rails, there was
an immediate boom in
local economy. Boarding houses were filled, rents became scarce, work horses and heavy
equipment were in urgent demand. It wasnt long before the slurring references to Pittsfield as
slab city were dropped and almost envious eyes were turned its way.
This temporary touch of prosperity was not lost on local citizens and as we would expect,
imaginative and far seeing businessmen like Going Hathorn and Jesse Connor seized the moment
to expand their properties and look for new sources of wealth. Land prices went up, building
activity increased and retail trade improved overnight. The sound of saw and hammer rang
through the little village. East and West Pittsfield gradually faded out as the population
concentrated more and more around the iron road. The stage coach routes remained for sometime,
but became of less and less consequence.
Within five years following the first regular run of the George W. Pickering and its two to
three coaches, the war of the states began and Maine, like its neighboring states, rushed to
the defense of the Union. Pittsfield contributed its share as the roster shows. For the next
four years, as the trains almost daily stopped at the little depot, the platform was usually
filled with the curious. When the troop trains went through, it was often an emotional scene.
As local recruits boarded, for what historical experiences no one knew, there were kisses and
tears for some, forced gaiety from others. When the high bell topped smokestack of the little
engine belched forth its black smoke and soot and the high iron wheels began to turn, there
was shouting and waving of hands from car windows, answered by good wishes and fluttering of
handkerchiefs from the platform. After the last car had rounded the bend, friends and
neighbors of these young recruits lingered to shed another tear and talk of war. It was an
experience that brought everyone closer together and no doubt helped to weld the citizens into
a community with common bond and purpose.
As Pittsfield began to awaken, to broaden her horizons, visitors from the outside became
more and more frequent. Drummers with their sales kits, men looking for opportunities to
locate new businesses or homes, and a miscellaneous assortment
of travelers daily dropped into
our little town. All brought something to think about news of the war, news from neighboring
towns and the more remote cities; all this was stimulating. The record shows that within
fifteen years following the advent of the railroad, a fitting school destined to become known
throughout New England was founded, churches were built, a modern hotel was constructed, a
race track was established, old industries were expanded and new businesses begun.
Again it was Going Hathorn who made the most of these new opportunities. He was already
established as a successful manufacturer, but with almost uncanny foresight he saw the
possibilities of a woolen mill. He replaced the old wooden dam with one of granite and
constructed a building to house a one set mill. He operated this plant for only two years when
Robert Dobson, a name that will go down in local history as one of the most enterprising of
all men, appeared looking for a site for a woolen mill. Hathorn had what he was looking for
and sold his interest in the mill to Mr. Dobson.
At this point I am going to insert a rather interesting piece of writing by Juniper, an
occasional correspondent for The Advertiser. His articles were usually concerned with
the earlier days around Pittsfield and this one deals in particular with the period between
1867 and 1887 years of remarkable growth. I am, because of its detail, including it almost in
toto. When I first came across it, I found it difficult to follow but later, after studying
the two maps show here the first 1860 and the second 1880 I could locate most of the
seventy-one buildings he mentions as existing in 1867 and the two hundred sixty referred
to in 1887. The 1889 engraving on the inside covers gives a birds eye view of the village
drawn closely to scale and really brings to life the picture Juniper draws of Pittsfield in
THE PITTSFIELD ADVERTISER Number 40
Thursday, December 30, 1886
THEN AND NOW
1867-1887 Pittsfields Twenty
Years of Progress
A Retrospect, A Present View
The Remarkable Growth of Pittsfield in the Last Two Decades, and the Changes in the Village
During that Period.
The old year is on its last legs. 1886 will soon be a thing of the past.
Retrospection is profitable. A study of the past may lead to improvements in the future. In
view of this fact, may it not be well to review the past two decades and ascertain what a
score of years has done for us as a town?
Many of the inhabitants of Pittsfield can readily remember what the village was twenty
years ago, but a far larger portion have no idea of it, and for these I purpose to make some
comparisons between then and now, and the comparisons may not be wholly without interest to
the older portion of our citizens.
At the beginning of the year 1867, the east side of Main Street had but comparatively few
Beginning at the Union church (now rebuilt into the Universalist church) we find I. H.
Lanceys house, which was used as the hotel; the double store known now as the W. K. Lancey
building, after which came a blank space until we reach the old house since rebuilt by I. H.
Lancey and now occupied by Mr. Leighton; after which came the old black-shingled,
one-story house, since rebuilt into the large, two-story house now owned by W. A.
Graves; then the house now occupied by Mrs. Call; next the Nichols buildings, built the year
before on the spot where Geo. Kimball now resides, which were burned within a year or two;
then Wm. Atkinsons house and J. C. Connors farm house finished the line. This last has been
replaced by Capt. Sawyer by a fine two-story residence, which he now occupies. These were
all the buildings from the grist mill south on the east side of Main Street, and these eight
buildings most of them poor have been replaced by twenty-four of the finest buildings in
Since then the old church, which closely resemble the schoolhouse on the British side, has
been rebuilt at a cost of about six thousand dollars; the old Lancey Hotel has been very much
improved; the W. K. Lancey buildings nearly doubled in capacity; a row of new stores and
dwellings along this space, and the large hotel of I. H. Lancey built near the railroad at the
about fifteen thousand dollars. The beautiful modern cottage of William Dobson has
been built, and nearly the whole space on that side of the street filled in with fine
ON THE WEST SIDE OF MAIN STREET,
from the Dexter & Sampson store to the railroad, there has not been so much change.
That store was then occupied by Nelson Vickery. Hiram Cooper sold groceries and dry goods
where N. L. Perkins now trades; the addition in the rear of the store has since been added, as
has also the store now occupied by Hunter & McMaster as a grocery and feed store. J. C.
Connor occupied a good two-story building as a dwelling where the north side of the Connor
brick block now stands; the store occupied by Vickery & Burns, and the south side of the
block (occupied by A. H. Cornforth, ready-made clothing) covers the ground used as a
door-yard for Mr. Connors dwelling. The north side of Connors new block, now occupied by
the post office and Libbys drug store, covers the site of the old Railroad house used as a
boarding-house and post office. The south side of this building, now occupied by Frannie
Merrill as a millinery store, covers the ground of J. C. Connors two -story building, at
that time occupied by T. S. Dexter & Co. as a general store, and the next building was a
story and a half wooden building owned by Allen Hart and used as a candy shop and saloon and
occupied by a Mr. Smiley. All the buildings from H. B. Connors on Park street to this Hart
house, and including it, were destroyed in the big fire of 1881. The Hart house has been
replaced by the two-story house now occupied by him as a dwelling and Frank Palmer for
saloon. The Jenkins store (where Misses Walker & Brackett were lately located) was used as
a general store by Frank Jenkins, and Scammon, the tailor, occupied the store now used by
Parks Bros. as an office. J. H. Davis occupied the same store he now occupies, though he ran
more to peanuts and candy than he does no. D. W. Libby lived in the building now owned and
occupied by H. C. Pooler, and an uninviting boghole extended from that point to J. C. Connors
store in the corner, now occupied by Randlett Bros.
ACROSS THE RAILROAD, SOUTH
the first building was the old railroad freight house, which came out to Main street; then
the old carriage shop and paint shop whose familiar look all may remember and it has changed
its looks very little in its new location; then the blacksmith shop and the one-story
residence of Dr. J. C. Manson, now occupied and owned by A. P. McMaster.
The dwelling now owned and occupied by J. C. Connor was built about this time by Mr.
Thomas; and the house for a long time occupied by Robt. Wood, was then in being as was also
the two-story house occupied by H. S. Nickerson. Mr. Vickery occupied the same house where
he now resides and half of the building now used as the grammar school was then used for that
purpose, and a small yellow building was located just east of it on the street. This has since
been moved and amended and added to by Mr. Salley until its original builder could hardly
swear to it, and now makes a neat and tidy residence. The grammar schoolhouse has been about
doubled in size, but has lost none of its original ugliness by being added to, and is one of
the few things a Pittsfield man would like to throw a blanket over when showing a stranger
over the town.
There was a one-story double building used as shops, just this side of Isaac Simons
dwelling, which was during the year moved down on Middle Street by Mr. Hathorn and has in
modern times been known as the Widows Retreat, but which last season blossomed out into a
pea-green two story four-tenement house, and has attained a stature of which its
babyhood never gave promise.
The Isaac Simons house, now owned and occupied by B. Thompson, closes the line on the west
side of Main street. At that period there was
NO STREET SOUTH OF THE RAILROAD
except the Main street and Peltoma road, and all that densely populated portion of the town
east of where the Institute now stands was a mowing field, and the beautiful elevation where
that institution now stands was a sheep pasture during the summer of 67, not lacking in rocks
and stumps, and the cedars now growing
on the lot were then in their early childhood, and they
can not be credited with very great progress since considering their advantages, educational
During the spring a road was built from the depot to a point where the old brickyard was
established, and the hand which pens these lines handled many of the stumps and stones that
obstructed the course of that thoroughfare, and afterwards the bricks of which the Institute
was constructed, and had it not been for this proposed building this communication would never
have been written, and the writer probably would never have become a citizen of the town. This
street is now lined on either side by nice buildings, as is also many other new streets in the
In the spring of 1867 there were, all told,
17 BUILDINGS SOUTH OF THE RAILROAD
and now, at the commencement of the year 1887, there are eighty-five on the same
territory, and I think that the cost of two of these new buildings is equal to the value of
the whole seventeen, twenty years ago.
North of the railroad the change has been scarcely less marked. On the north side of Park
street and east side of the Hartland road was Hathorn house, now occupied by Allen Hackett,
and by him rebuilt into the substantial two-story building now owned and occupied by Mr.
Hading; the old boarding-house; the old Farwell House; the Lancaster house, where Grover
now lives, and W. C. Parks house.
On the south side of Park street, where Union Hall now stands, were Hathorns big barns,
since moved up on the hill where the farm house was afterwards built and where Mr. White now
resides. Then came the Foss and Brackett houses, then just built, and the Albion Whitten
house, then occupied by Mr. Smith, the Universalist minister.
On the north side of the Canaan road was H. S. Nickersons house, and the house of Richard
J. Holbrook, now owned by Mrs. Elizabeth Cobb; then no others until the Maxfield house was
reached, now owned by D. D. Winslow. On the Hartland road,
west side, was the little old house
now owned by I. H. Lancey, which has held its own remarkably well, and that was all until B.
F. Parks farm was reached.
On Middle street the two cottages since owned by Dr. Howe and H. A. Libby were just
In the vicinity of the dam was the grist mill, the bedstead factory, and saw mill; the
grist mill house, and house near the factory formerly occupied by Dr. Walker, and a small
building on the spot where the Pioneer mill now stands, which now stands at the north end of
Dobsons bridge. On the island, between the long and short bridges, was the old cooper shop,
now used as a storehouse, and a blacksmith shop, since burned.
ON THE DETROIT ROAD
was the old shingle mill, and most of the houses that are now there. In fact there has been
less change in the vicinity of the old shingle mill in dwelling houses, than in any other
portion of the village, though the houses have been improved very much in appearance. There
were no houses where Washington Street is located. Going north from the short bridge there
were the schoolhouse, the old David Hackett house, G. W. McCauslands house, and the old Connor
homestead, which was all there was up to where Geo. Pushaw lives. The old one-story,
shingled Connor homestead has been replaced by the splendid set of buildings of G. J. Connor
and the G. W. McCausland buildings were burned a few years ago, as was also the old blacksmith
shop on the island, at an earlier period.
were all that could be included within the limits of Pittsfield village in 1867. Now there
are two hundred and sixty within the same limits. At that time there were no dwellings worth
more than about two thousand dollars. Now there are a number of dwellings worth from four to
ten thousand dollars each, and the general average of buildings are worth at least double what
they were then.
The number and aggregate amount of manufacturing business was not large, indeed was very
insignificant in comparison to what we have now. There was the old saw mill, a bedstead
grist mill on the east side of the old log dam, and three blacksmith shops did
everything in that line, and I presume that one of our blacksmith shops do as much
business as the three did at that time; and probably two stores in the village now sell as
many goods as all the stores twenty years ago, though it is probably that their profits were
larger in proportion to the goods sold. In addition to the above there was a small business
done in the old carriage shop near the railroad by Mr. Thomas, but it was mostly in
During the summers of '67 and '68 the old log dam was replaced by
A SOLID GRANITE AND CEMENT DAM
and the Pioneer woolen mill was built, and a foundation laid for a progress which has been
almost without a pause or break in a score of years and has caused an advance in the material
property of the town probably unequaled by any inland town in the State, and from that time
money has been flowing into the town through its woolen mills, stimulating trade in all its
branches, until there has been built up a trade which reaches out into various towns of the
county and even beyond, and stocks of goods are carried that equal the best in large cities of
the State, and are sold at prices that are forcing trade from surrounding towns far and
SOME THINGS THAT HAVE BEEN ACCOMPLISHED IN
The Maine Central Institute has been built at a cost of forty thousand dollars. It has been
placed on a good financial foundation by a subscribed capital of twenty thousand dollars
A granite dam has been built at a cost of about twenty thousand dollars.
The Pioneer Woolen Mill has been built, which with addictions and surroundings has cost at
least a hundred thousand dollars.
The Maple Grove Woolen Mill has been built at a cost of forty thousand dollars.
Union Hall has been built at a cost of twenty-four thousand dollars.
An excellent hotel has been built at a cost of fifteen thousand dollars.
The Universalist Church has been remodeled at a cost of about six thousand dollars.
A Methodist chapel costing two or three thousand dollars has been built.
Nearly two hundred houses have been built, ranging in cost from one thousand to fourteen
Auxiliary steam engines attached to both woolen mills and grist mill.
A successful manufactory of ladies underwear, run by steam, has been established, and a
large building built to accommodate it.
A Grange Hall building built, costing five thousand dollars.
A Grand Army building erected at a cost of three or four thousand dollars.
A printing office established, run by steam, and a commodious building erected for the
purpose, and the most successful local weekly newspaper in the State established.
Four establishments for making pants running one by steam.
A complete system of waterworks established.
A harness shop turning out over two hundred harnesses a year, established.
A brickyard of the capacity of a million bricks a year established.
In addition to these we have the firm of Parks Brothers, who do a heavy business in buying
hay, hoops, etc., and shipping the same; and various others mall industries which I lack space
to enumerate. The well-known stock stables of A. W. Brackett, James F. Connor, Col. W. G.
Morrill, and others, are favorably known far outside of the State of Maine, and have made the
town somewhat famous for its horses.
THE ONLY HALL IN TOWN
of any size was over the Lancey stores. We now have seven very much larger ones, including
one that is considered to be nearly or quite equal to any in the State.
I call to mind a dance held in the first-mentioned hall twenty years ago. Among the gay
and festive on that occasion were such young chaps as C. A. Farwell, F. E. Parks, W. L.
Hathorn, Henri Haskell, J. H. Davis and the writer, with such young misses as Louise and
Georgie Connor, F. E. Hathorn, and many others. The dance was gotten up by the members of the
flourishing lodge of Good Templars. We were all Good Templars then. The members of that
company now have families of young men and maidens growing up, and the seniors seem willing to
delegate the labor of tripping the light fantastic toe to the second generation, who I am free
to admit do not seem averse to taking the duty off from the hands of their elders in this
It seems sad to think that boys of twenty years ago are getting thin spots on the tops of
their heads and are taking up the fashion of wearing canes, and it suggests the still sadder
question, what of the next twenty years?
OUR LITTLE SCHOOL-HOUSE-LOOKING CHURCH
had room enough for all the worshipers in the town then, and I sometimes wonder now if it
would not be better if we could all agree to go to Heaven in the same road, and not try to
keep so many thoroughfares in repairespecially as we expect they will end in the same locality
Rather nice sort of times we used to have then in the old church, and if Bro. Gerrish, the
Baptist, scorched us just a little (for our own good) one Sabbath, Bro. Smith, the
Universalist, was sure to have an antidote to allay the smart the next, and as they led the
Bible class on alternate Sundays, we could not fail to get a good deal of light, and as Cephas
singing (he led the choir under both dispensations) was strictly unsectarian, everyone ought
to have been suited.
There was not much competition among
then. Dr. Manson then doctored Pittsfield and various surrounding towns, and there did not
seem to be any lack of physic; but now we have half a dozen who can write Dr. before their
names, and from two to three capital letters after, which shows that they may be considered
capital doctors yet many of us are sick a good deal, all the same.
In the matter of lawyers Pittsfield has always been rather economical. C. A. Farwell has
been our only standby, and when another has elevated his shingle, we have generally managed to
starve him out in the course of a year, which shows that our mental condition is better than
We have uniformly tried the same treatment with
but they will stand a deal more starving than our lawyers, but as our present three lawyers
have abundant means to live on outside of their profession, and as we have educated our
doctors nearly down to one straw a day, and have practically taught our ministers to take no
thought for the morrow, we may congratulate ourselves that our mental, moral and physical
wants are run on extremely economical principles.
The Masonic Lodge and Lodge of Good Templars were in successful operation in this town
twenty years ago. The Good Templar Lodge has been discontinued, but in its stead has sprung up
the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, who have a very large following in this and surrounding
towns; the order of United Fellowship seems also to be in flourishing condition; the post of
the Grand Army of the Republic has full ranks, and an Assembly of Knights of Labor also has
some followers, so that any man who wants to join some kind of an organization will not be
obliged to go out of town to accomplish his desires.
this retrospect it seems fitting that we should pause a moment and entertain a thought of
those who were with us twenty years ago; who were as much interested in the welfare of the
town as the most ardent among us now, and to whose exertions we are indebted for very much
that we possess. They are with us no longer, and whether they are watching from their new
homes all that is transpiring among us, is beyond our ken. By speaking their names we are
reminded, by the evidences all around us, of the work they accomplished, for we see them in
enduring form all about us, and much of the history of their lives comes up before us as we
speak their names Hathorn, Stinson, Manson, Connor, Parks, and others. What names will be
added to the record of another twenty years, and who will write that record?
Pittsfield, Dec. 27, 1886
As Juniper indicates, the woolen industry, begun by Going Hathorn in 1869 and carried on by
Robert Dobson, William Dobson and William Davis, represents the largest investment of capital
in this period of industrial birth and growth. By the late eighties, the Dobsons had invested
over $100,000 in their Pioneer plant alone. After a few years, Mr. Davis sold his interest to
Dennison Walker and the firm of Robert Dobson & Company was established. This organization
continued to expand and soon was recognized throughout New England as an outstanding
manufacturer of quality woolens, employing between two and three hundred hands with a payroll
approaching $10,000 weekly. As this period of awakening dew to a close, the Dobsons were on
the threshold of an even greater expansion and their success had encouraged others to follow
their example in the textile field.
Possibly the founding of Maine Central Institute in 1866 has even greater historical
significance for Pittsfield than the adventures in textiles. While the mills, built and
operated successfully by the Dobsons for many years, have long since gone out of existence --
one has been torn down and another is now used for a shoe factory -- M. C. I. continues to grow
and extend its influence far beyond the limits of Pittsfield. From a twenty acre campus with
one brick classroom building, this preparatory school today boasts a two hundred acre campus,
fifteen buildings, a superb faculty, and an educational program that has attracted students
from all parts of the world.
Ten years before M. C. I. was founded, a serious proposal was made to locate a seminary; in
Pittsfield. Rev. Oren B. Cheney was one of the early advocates of such a school. With the
Railroad going through the town, this area had become particularly attractive to any
enterprise, cultural or commercial, that possessed state wide potential. Its central location
in the state, of course, was a very important factor in such considerations, just as it is
today. However, the idea was given up and the school went to Lewiston where it prospered and a
few years later became Bates College. In 1865, Mr. Cheney, who had become President of the
Bates Trustees, again looked to Pittsfield, this time for a secondary school that would be
closely associated with his Lewiston college. This time the effort was successful, thanks to
the energy and tireless work of such men as Going Hathorn, Nathaniel Weymouth, William C.
Stinson, Jesse C. Connor, Aura L. Gerrish, L. L. Harmon, Hon. Ebenezer Knowlton and Mr.
Cheney. On February 1, 1866, the school was incorporated and M. C. I. became a reality.
The first meeting of the corporation was in Mr. Hathorns office in Pittsfield, February 13,
1866, and at that time an Executive Committee was elected consisting of Nathaniel Weymouth,
Going Hathorn, J. C. Connor, L. L. Harmon, and Hon. E. Knowlton. A meeting of the Trustees was
called for February 26, 1867 at which time it was voted to raise ten thousand dollars to erect
one section of a permanent building and a Building Committee was chosen consisting of Mess.
Hathorn, Weymouth, Connor, Knowlton, and Stinson. On June 24, 1867, the Trustees voted to
raise an additional seven thousand dollars to be expended in the erection of Seminary
Building. It was also voted to employ Mr. Charles F. Douglass of Norridgewock to prepare plans
for the Seminary building and estimates of cost of completed building and a
of the cost of the building finished as to its outside and so much of the inside as will
render the structure safe.
At a meeting of the corporation August 20, 1867, it was voted to change plan decided upon
at the last meeting and appropriate $15, 000 to put up and finish the outside of all the
This last vote is interesting in that it illustrates how strong an influence Going Hathorn
was in the early stages of planning the school. In the weeks between the February meeting when
it was voted to build only one wing of the structure, Mr. Hathorn had been working assiduously
to convince his colleagues that it was important, and in the long run less expensive, to erect
the whole structure, on the outside at least. His arguments finally prevailed. A. L. Gerrish
in testimony later given in a suit brought by the Trustees against the estate of Mr. Hathorn
stated, The change of plan from building the wing to erecting the whole building was effected
at the suggestion of Going Hathorn. The Trustees yielded to his suggestion.
As might be expected, the final cost of the building was greater than had been anticipated.
The final figures are difficult to verify, but with everything, including equipment, grading
and landscaping, the total expenditure was in excess of $40, 000, which in those days was a
lot of money. The stone work, which was a masterpiece of masonry, was over $3000 and the
contractor, Mr. Douglass, was paid $29, 000 when he completed his work in 1869. His bill was
receipted February 14, 1870.
The struggle to raise this money went on lor many years afterward. A series of fund raising
drives took place and little by little the debt was reduced. Sometimes the yearly interest
would run to fourteen or fifteen hundred dollars. A big boost in retiring the mortgage came in
1870 when William L. Hathorn, son of Going, was Treasurer of the school and also a member of
the Legislature. At that time, the Trustees presented a petition to the Legislature for a
grant of $10, 000. In connection with this petition, a Statement of Facts was requested and it
is printed here to give a concise picture of the school at the end of its first five years:
STATEMENT OF FACTS
This Institution is located in Pittsfield village, Somerset County, on the line of the
Maine Central Railroad, twenty miles from Waterville and thirty-five miles from Bangor. It
was incorporated February 1, 1866. The first term of school was opened in a hall and
schoolhouse, August 30, 1866, with 83 students. From that time until the year 1869, two terms
a year were held, the number of students increasing to 118 while yet without a building of our
own, and being obliged to occupy apartments unsuitable for school purposes.
In the spring of 1869, the school commenced its full course of four terms a year, of ten
weeks each. The first term held in the new building was in the summer of 1869. The fall term
of 1869 numbered 130 students. The Summer and Winter terms were thinly attended, on account of
a large number of students being engaged as teachers in our district schools. The prospect for
Spring term of 1870 is more flattering than at any previous term.
The school is the same grade as those at Westbrook, Bucksport, Kents Hill and Maine State
Seminary at Lewiston. Its location is such as to accommodate a large section of the state,
that will not be reached by any other institution of like grade. This institution has never
received any aid from the State, while colleges and seminaries of similar grade have received
liberal State Endowments; and seven out of eight of those devoted to literary purposes are
situated west of the Kennebec river, and have received more than seven-eighths of the
The main building of the Institution was erected in 1868-69. It is made of brick, in
the form of a cross, 118 x 68 feet, and three stories high. The whole exterior and the lower
story are finished, and when the entire building is complete, it will contain a large chapel
47 x 65 feet, and fifteen other commodious recitation, library and society rooms. It is built
in a thorough and substantial manner, and located on a lot of twenty acres, in the most
desirable part of the village.
Forty thousand dollars have been expended in bringing the work to its present state of
perfection. Over eleven thousand dollars have been contributed to carry forward the work. The
corporation has subscriptions, obligations and pledges made to it, to the amount of thirteen
thousand dollars more, leaving
unprovided for a debt of sixteen thousand dollars. Agents are
vigorously prosecuting the work of raising funds to meet this indebtedness. The Institution
also has one thousand dollars as endowment.
A. L. Gerrish,
President of the Board of Trustees
W. L. Hathorn,
for the Committee on Education
The act was finally passed but with the condition that only the interest on this amount
would be paid until 1880, at which time the full amount would be paid, provided the school
possessed $40, 000 unencumbered property and also provided that a normal course had been
established. Actually it was not until 1885 that the state felt that the conditions of the
grant had been met and the $10, 000 was paid.
There have been many opinions expressed as to who deserves the most credit for establishing
such a school in Pittsfield. This is rather futilemany citizens appear as workers and
contributors, but the names of six are now listed as the founders. Probably Reverend C. B.
Cheney, who in the middle of the fifties had thought of establishing such a school here, most
clearly saw the possibilities of an educational institution in central Maine. He was a
remarkable manalmost a professional founder of schools. In his life time it is written that he
was a leading force in establishing seven academies and seminaries in Maine, one of which grew
into Bates College and of which he became President of its Board of Trustees. However, without
the help of local civic-minded men such as Going Hathorn, Jesse Connor, Father Stinson and
Nath- aniel Weymouth, little would have been accomplished. Hathorn contributed the land,
money and his knowledge of building construction; Reverend Weymouth took part in almost every
phase of the founding effort; William C. (Father) Stinson was one of the most devoted of these
pioneers. He was not wealthy, but twice he put in his entire savings to help save the building
funds and in addition borrowed to the limit of his credit to give to the school. His love and
devotion to the school became a legend and he was held in the highest respect by all who knew
him. In his last days
he was the welcome guest of Jesse Connor who cared for him devotedly.
Jesse Connor, as might be expected, contributed generously to the project; and Rev. A. L.
Gerrish was a substantial supporter, serving on the Executive Committee during the early years
of the school.
Several of these founders have been recognized for their efforts. Weymouth Hall is named in
memory of Rev. Nathaniel Weymouth; Stinson Avenue, a street that now runs through the campus
is named for Father Stinson. As time goes on, it is hoped that other gestures of recognition
will be made for these pioneering fathers.
The Going Hathorn story would not be complete without mentioning one final incident in his
somewhat controversial life. In characteristic fashion, as we have seen, he became a prime
mover in the initial stages of the effort to bring M. C. I, to Pittsfield. Like his colleagues
in this venture, he was interested in bringing an educational institution to Pittsfield. He
had been convinced by Mr. Cheney of the need of such a school; but he also saw more clearly
than most of these visionary men the effect on the economy of the area such an institution
would have. He owned eighty well situated acres south of the railroad in the heart of the
village, ideally suited for locating the campus. He immediately offered twenty of those acres
and subscribed $1500 in cash, a total of $3000. This made him the largest single donor of the
entire fund raising drive. He assisted Mr. Douglass in drawing up the plans for the building,
he furnished building supplies and, most interesting of all, he set up a brick kiln north of
the campus and delivered 300, 000 of the finest bricks at $9 per thousand. Even a casual
inspection 100 years later will verify the opinion that they were of top quality.
For all this interest in the M. C. I. project, Mr. Hathorn was severely criticized by his
fellow trustees. It was unethical, they said, for one so close to the undertaking to take such
an active part in the construction itself, even though, as some admitted, he might have been
saving the school money. The criticism got so bad that Hathorn resigned, and after several
informal meetings, the Trustees at first laid the resignation on the table but later accepted
No one questioned his honesty or his ability they just thought what he did wasnt
Following Mr. Hathorns death in 1875, the Trustees sued his estate to recover a $1000
pledge which they claimed he had made in addition to the earlier gift of $3000 $1500 cash and
$1500 set as the value of the twenty acres of land for the campus. The case dragged on until
1881. In the course of the testimony in this suit in which D. D. Stewart defended the
Executors of the Hathorn estate, it came out that the eighty acres of land south of the
railroad, then owned by Hathorn and which now includes Manson and Libby Streets, jumped 100%
in value once the school was established, thereby confirming his good business judgment. The
Court found for the plaintiffs and Mr. Hathorns estate had to pay $1000, plus accrued
The episode was unfortunate. Tempers were roiled and, according to the testimony of Orin S.
Haskell, one of the Executors of the estate, Mr. Hathorn did become bitter to the Institute
before his death.
One of the witnesses in this suit was Jesse C. Connor, a very shrewd businessman, and in
the course of his testimony regarding land values and the influence the building of M. C. I,
had on them, he stated, There has been a material rise in the value of real estate since the
establishing of the Institute. I should think a rise of a strong hundred per cent.
Mr. Lancey built a hotel a little after the Institute was erected.
I think that hotel would not have been built if the Institute had not been built.
Of course, this is just one mans opinion but anyone who has studied the activities of Mr.
Connor will come to the conclusion that, although he may have been tempestuous at times, he
was honest in his convictions and usually right.
At any rate, the fact remains that Isaac was in the old hotel when the Institute was being
erected and at that very time was engaged in planning and building what he hoped would be one
of the finest hostelries in the state. His dream was realized and he became the Prince of
Hosts to guests from every part of the country. The fame of the Lancey House spread rapidly
and the name became synonymous with gracious living in your home away from home.
Since we have already mentioned the Lancey family as one of the early settlers of the town
and their first experience as innkeepers in what was known as the Lancey Homestead at the
corner of Easy and Main streets, it is only necessary to remind the reader that .Isaac., the
eldest son of Col. William Lancey, was actually the third in succession to manage an inn.
After the Colonels death soon after moving to Pittsfield, his widow, Suzanne, carried on for
several years and then turned the business over to Isaac who seemed to have a natural bent for
Isaac was popular with the townspeople. He was public spirited. He loved to entertain and
he made it a point if possible to welcome each guest personally and see to it that everything
was satisfactory. His meals became famous throughout the state and the Lancey House soon
became the favorite stopover for the commercial trade. Oftentimes in the winter months, storms
would delay train service and the hotel would be crowded with drummers and other guests who
seemed to enjoy the forced stay and the added opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of their
Throughout the years, the Lancey House has served as a meeting place for clubs, fraternal
orders and business conventions. As Mr. Lanceys interest in real estate took more and more of
his time, he was able to relieve himself of the details of management by leasing the hotel to
capable proprietors. One of the most successful and delightful personalities to take over the
property was a lady, Mrs. Abbie L. Damon, who secured an equally popular and efficient
individual in the person of. Rufus Burns to manage the hotel. These two made a great team.
Mrs. Damon looked after the menus while Mr. Burns checked the business details and greeted the
guests. Under their direction many gala occasions took place at the Lancey House and featured
menus that are almost breathtaking. For example, during the dedication of one of the woolen
mills, the following refreshment arrangements were described:
The dining room was under the temporary charge of that well known caterer and hotel maitre
de cuisine, Fred Desjardins, and a capable French Chef was at the head of the kitchen
force. Elegant souvenir menus were used and the following menu was offered:
Mullagatawney Clam Chowder
Pickles Queen Olives
Baked stuffed shad, Maitre dHotel
Boiled Halibut, Egg Sauce
Leg of Southdown Mutton, Capre Sauce
Sugarcure Ham, Champagne Sauce
Sirloin or Ribs of Beef, Dish Gravy
Turkey Stuffed, Sauce aux Groseille
Spring Chicken with Jelly
Spring Lamb, Brown Sauce
Loin of Veal, Brown Gravy
Ailes de Poulet aux Rix Pate de Fois Gras
Macaroni aux Fromage
Sardines with Leamon
Oysters Vol au Vonts
Mayonnaise of Chicken
Boiled or Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Corn Stewed Tomatoes Green Peas
Dandelion Greens Boiled Onions
Chow Chow Halford Sauce Tomato Ketchup
Worcestershire Sauce Pepper Sauce
Olives Horse Radish
Pineapple Charlotte Fruit Glace
Apple Pie Mince Pie
Rhubarb Pie Custard Pie
Vanilla Ice Cream Angel Cake
Lemon Jelly, Whipped Cream
Apples Oranges Bananas
Tea Coffee Chocolate
Quite a meal!
In the course of years, the Lancey House has experienced many changes which we shall
endeavor to mention as the story of Pittsfield unfolds. As this particular era draws to a
close in 1880, the famous Inn, in its first ten years of life at its new location, had already
become well known, even beyond the borders of Maine, and was destined to keep pace with what
The same can be said of most of the other municipal enterprises. At this time there were
three flourishing churches: The Universalist Church which was the outgrowth of the Union
Meeting House, so-called, erected in 1857 and serving as a place of worship for all
denominations until 1871; the Free Baptist Church, organized in 1855, which in 1869 sold its
interest in the Union Church and began worshiping in the new chapel at M. C. I.; and the
Methodist Church which was formed in 1870 and built a chapel for worship in 1872.
The Dobsons with their one Pioneer unit were ready for expansion. The lumber mills were
working to capacity trying to keep up with the residential building boom, that promised to
exceed all previous estimates; the schools were rapidly becoming crowded and parents were
beginning to demand improved facilities a program that seems to be ever with us; and, as might
be expected, the retail merchants were increasing their stocks to supply the increasing demand
An awakening to the potential that lay ahead stirred the populace. What Going Hathorn,
Jesse Connor, the Dobsons and Lanceys had seen in the late sixties and early seventies was now
plain to all and a new spirit of enterprisea vigoran enthusiasm a desire to be part of this
thrilling growth infused and inspired the nineteen hundred citizens who made up the population
of Pittsfield in 1880. The next twenty years were to see what was perhaps the most richly
rewarding period in the entire history of our town.