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Welcome to the
Pittsfield Historical Society's
History of Pittsfield

Pittsfield on the Sebasticook

by Sanger Mills Cook
originally published in 1966
now in eBook form


AWAKENING, 1850-1880

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 same time.

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.


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 highlights.

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 Gauges.

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 Waterville.

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 80's.


Thursday, December 30, 1886


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 buildings.

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 town.

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 cost of


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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 residences.



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.



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


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 and otherwise.

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 vicinity.

In the spring of 1867 there were, all told,



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 built.

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.


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 factory, and


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 repairs.

During the summers of '67 and '68 the old log dam was replaced by


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 near.




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 additional.

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 thousand dollars.

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.



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 particular respect.

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?


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 at last.

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 our physical.

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


separate estimate 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 buildings.

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:



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 the

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 appropriations made.

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

Respectfully submitted,

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 it.


No one questioned his honesty or his ability they just thought what he did wasnt right!

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 interest.

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 the job.

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 gracious host.

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:


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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:

Blue Points


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

Mixed Nuts

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 lay ahead.

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 for goods.


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.



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