October 23, 2018
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Unitarian Universalist Meeting House of Pittsfield receives $4,000 assessment grant

Community Author: Holly Zadra
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Picasa | BDN
Picasa | BDN

PITTSFIELD — In early November, the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House of Pittsfield received a grant for $4000 from a component fund of the Maine Community Foundation to be used toward a structure assessment of the historic building. The grant will set in motion a major fundraising effort to restore and revitalize the historic Pittsfield church located in the center of downtown Pittsfield.

As part of a long-term strategy to both restore the unique and unparalleled art and architecture of the building and to revitalize its use and significance in our Central Maine communities, volunteers with the UUMH have begun outreach efforts that include expanding use of the building to all the communities in the region.

Formerly named “First Universalist Church,” “Pittsfield Universalist Meeting House Society,” and before affiliating with the Universalists in1867, the “East Pittsfield Union Meeting House,” the UU Meeting House is purposely positioning itself as a community center open to all kinds of organizations and individuals. With its stage and auditorium that easily seat 100, attached parlor, a full basement including kitchen that will eventually be made commercial for community use, and majestic sanctuary that seats 250, the building is poised to function as a regional community center as well as maintain its Unitarian Universalist congregation. With no grange or community center in the vicinity, the building’s regional significance reaches not only Pittsfield, but surrounding communities including Newport, Burnham, Detroit, Unity, Thorndike, Troy, Canaan, St. Albans, Hartland, Palmyra, and even Skowhegan.

Visit the historic sanctuary on Sundays during the regular 9:45 am service or on Wednesdays from 1-6 p.m. for quiet reflection where you can see the artwork of the domed ceiling that includes 16 frescos by the noted Maine artist Harry H. Cochrane (1860-1946) who became a world-famous muralist in his time. The Pittsfield frescoes are among Cochrane’s finest and most ambitious works as an artist and move beyond his more common abstract and floral designs to represent Biblical figures and saints. These are threatened with age and in a few areas with water damage.

The stained-glass windows of the sanctuary are also of rare quality. Executed by Redding, Baird, & Company of Boston – a glass crafting company whose work was as refined as its contemporary Tiffany’s – the favrile drapery glass art is singular in Somerset County and can be found in large arched triptychs on the south, east, and north walls of the sanctuary.

As well, the sanctuary features a gorgeous, working organ with over 600 speaking pipes.

For more information on how you can contribute to the restoration of this historic building or use the space for your community event or celebration, please email uupittsfieldmaine@gmail.com.