August Lectures at the Meetinghouse

1908 postcard

1908 postcard

The Old Walpole Meetinghouse is proud to present the first in its series of August Lectures.

On Sunday, August 17th and Sunday, August 24th at 3:00pm the public is invited to the Meetinghouse to explore this historic building and hear lectures from two local experts on social issues of 1772, the year the Meetinghouse was built.

The first lecture, “Religion in the Eighteenth Century on the Pemaquid Peninsula,” will be given by Dr. Byron Stuhlman. A retired Episcopalian minister, Dr. Stuhlman had parishes in New York and Connecticut and is a former faculty member at Hamilton College. He is now on the faculty of Coastal Senior College.

The first Europeans to live in the Pemaquid were, as Dr. Stuhlman says, “more interested in Cod than God,” however the permanent settlers were more religious. Unlike the Puritans of Massachusetts these newcomers were largely Scots-Irish and Presbyterian.

Although there was little separation between church and state in the early days and meetinghouses were used for both church services and community political meetings, issues began to develop as Baptist and Methodist preachers began to move in and demand equal pay from the towns.

Along with the violence over competing land claims and the great social conflict that led up to the Revolution, this was a turbulent time.

Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American poet to be published, is the topic of the second lecture to be delivered by Dr. Harold Schramm. With graduate degrees in both English and Law, Dr. Schramm taught for many years at Western Connecticut State University.

Wheatley, born in Africa in 1753, came to Boston as a slave when she was seven. Her owners, the Wheatleys, taught her to read and write and encouraged her to write poetry. She was very well educated for a woman of her tine, knew both Latin and Greek, and was praised for her poetry by George Washington with whom she corresponded.

Even though she was eventually freed by her owners, illness and poverty took a toll on her life. This is a fascinating true story for those of us in New England who are fond of the tales of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Elijah Parish Lovejoy.

It is worthwhile remembering that slavery still existed in Maine at the time the Meetinghouse was built in 1772. It was not abolished until nine years later. If you go up into the balcony of the Meetinghouse you can see the seats set aside for the slaves and indentured servants to use.

Please join us on August 17th and 24th at 3:00pm. There is no charge. The Meetinghouse is on Old Walpole Meetinghouse Road just off Route 129 in Walpole.

Donations welcome.

17th Annual DaPonte Candlelight Concert, Sunday September 8, 2013

Please join us in the glow of flickering candles for a very unique DaPonte String Quartet concert at the all-original, pre-revolutionary Old Walpole Meetinghouse on Sunday September 8, 2013 at 7:00pm (doors open at 6:30pm).

Tickets are $25 and are available only by pre-purchase at the Maine Coast Bookstore in Damariscotta, the Walpole Barn in Walpole (Rt. 129), or the Framer’s Gallery in Boothbay (Meadow Mall). To make other arrangements for tickets, please call Shirley at 563-5471 or e-mail

The Meetinghouse is located 3.5 miles south of Damariscotta on Meetinghouse Road off Route 129 in South Bristol.

The Quartet’s special performance this year will include Henry Purcell’s Fantasias for Strings, Zhou Long’s Song of the Ch’in, Randall Thompson’s Alleluia, and Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet in C# Minor, Op. 131. Movie goers may recognize the very special Beethoven selection as it was featured in the recent movie, “A Late Quartet”.

The DaPonte String Quartet has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Philadelphia Musical Fund, the Music Teachers National Association Chamber Music America, and have participated in several of the nation’s most prestigious concert series to rave reviews.

This event promises to be a truly 18th century experience; there is no electricity and no running water in the building. The Meetinghouse is on the National Register of Historic Places and is an exquisite example of colonial architecture, including a soaring hand-carved pulpit.

The proceeds from this concert benefit the maintenance of the structure. In particular, this year the original 12 over 12 light windows will receive much needed restoration.

Open seating is in the original box pews, and with the Quartet posed on a central elevated platform gives the performance a theater-in-the-round effect. Quartet violinist, Dino Liva has commented, “The Meetinghouse has the best acoustics of any venue we play”.

Please bring flashlights to guide you to your vehicles after the event.

Tax-deductible contributions toward the window restoration project would be gratefully accepted and should be sent to Old Walpole Meetinghouse, P.O. box 47, Walpole, Me 04573. Old Walpole Meetinghouse is a non-profit 501©(3) historical and educational organization.

Annual DaPonte Candlelight Concert

On the evening of Sunday, September 11, at 7 p.m., the tenth anniversary of 9/11 will be observed in a special way when the DaPonte Spring Quartet gathers to perform in the 1772 Old Walpole Meeting House in South Bristol, where creation of the new nation was debated over four centuries ago.

Tickets, $25, are on sale now for the 15th annual always-a-sellout DaPonte Candlelight Concert benefiting the all-original site. Funds raised this year will go towards painting the hand-shaved 1772 exterior shingles of the oldest continuously used church/meetinghouse in Maine still on its original foundation.

From a raised platform in the center aisle of the beautiful, intimate building, the quartet will introduce and play a particularly poignant program, designed to please and send people out into the night in a contemplative state. The quartet has chosen Beethoven’s Opus 132, “a healing piece,” Beethoven’s Opus 135, and Barber’s Opus 11, “one of the most beautiful pieces in the repertoire . . . also one of the most profound, both powerful and introspective,” according to DaPonte violinist Dino Liva.

Open seating is in the original box pews downstairs and around all three sides of the soaring balcony in the historic site, which has “the best acoustics of any place we play,” according to Liva.

An eigth-generation direct descendant of Henry Hunter (who helped create the Meeting House), Deacon Mary Hunter Bowers and Hunter family trustees will greet and seat guests, along with treasurer Fred Bowers and the concert committee members, Deb and Warren Storch, Betsy Kunkle, Larry Reed, Tim Dinsmore, Ken Smith and Sally Beaudette.

On the National Register of Historic Places, Old Walpole Meeting House is owned now by the Town of South Bristol. It is on Route 129, 3.5 miles south of Damariscotta.

Concert tickets are available at Maine Coast Book Shop in Damariscotta, the Walpole Barn on Route 129 in Walpole, and in Boothbay at Framers Gallery in Meadow Mall.

Tax-deductible contributions towards painting the Meeting House are welcome and should be sent to Old Walpole Meeting House, P.O. Box 47, Walpole ME 04573.