TROY, Maine — The farming community of Troy is tiny. It boasts a general store, a population of fewer than 1,000 people at the last census, one church and one grange hall.
But that church, the nondenominational 1840 Troy Union Meeting House, and the 135-year-old Seven Star Grange No. 73 are among the newest members of a small and important club. They were both entered in the National Register of Historic Places in November, two of an estimated 2,000 such properties in Maine that are listed there.
Church member Norma Rossel of Troy said the listing is especially important because now it may be easier for the church to raise money to repair its crumbling steeple.
“I’m hoping in various ways to connect through historical societies, and people in the Northeast in general, about this historic church, to try to get people excited about it,” she said last week.
The “at least 12” members of the congregation are working to raise about $75,000 to restore the belfry tower and the rotting timbers under the roof which support it, Rossel said. It’s a lot of money, but the church has received a grant of $40,000 from the Maine Steeples Project, a partnership between Maine Preservation and the Maine Community Foundation.
“We pass the special bucket every Sunday,” Rossel said.
She and church member Jan Cropley said they were glad to have the designation.
“I think it’s about time, don’t you?” Cropley said to Rossel.
“I think it’s fabulous,” Rossel replied.
According to Kirk Mohney, assistant director of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, buildings must meet specific criteria in order to be eligible for listing in the register.
“Properties are significant because of their association with important events, or important people,” he said.
They also may be listed because of their architecture, engineering, design, historic landscape design or significance in history or prehistory, he said.
The Troy Union Meeting House was deemed to be a classic example of a type of church erected in Maine rural communities in the 40 years before the Civil War. It features both Greek Revival and Gothic Revival details and a stark interior with box pews and a balcony, according to the Maine commission.
The Seven Star Grange is an example of two important aspects of the Grange organization: the establishment of a cooperative Grange Store and then a stage, so that community members could have more uses for the building. It was listed because of its current and past role in the social and entertainment history of Troy, according to the Maine Historic Preservation Commission.
The church is a simple structure with a prominent, square steeple topped with four points.
The members showed the intricate interior wooden scaffolding that is serving to hold up the steeple and the balcony, which has been closed off from the interior of the church.
The hand-planed box pews are original, and arranged as the founding members had them back in 1840. At that time, members paid per pew, with the boxes closest to the front most expensive and the warmer pews at the back of the church next to the stoves the cheapest.
Jan and Ron Cropley live across the Bangor Road from their church and can keep an eye on it, they said.
“It’s our church. It’s central to our lives,” Rossel said.