Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Home and Garden Tour: A Preview of July 16, 2011

We are just eight short weeks from the 2011 Paris Hill Home and Garden Tour on July 16 from 10 am - 4 pm. (tickets are $20.00) Residents are busy getting ready: lawns are green, spring bulbs are up, mulch is down, winter cleanup is progressing nicely as we get the village ready for our visitors.

So let's take a look at what will be on the tour, starting with the houses and gardens: We have seven homes plus gardens on this year's tour. All of these historic homes were built between 1802 and 1885 giving visitors a real inside look at 19th Century life. All have been loving cared for by present owners.

Beginning with the oldest house on tour (top right photo), the Smith home (originally built in 1802) was once part of a larger home still standing on Paris Hill Road. It was moved to its present location some time in the early 1800's. Amazing how they were able to accomplish that with just horses and oxen. The home has been modernized, but still retains its old farmhouse charm, with a repurposed stable, barn lofts, shop and garage.

Crossroads was built in 1818 by Stephen Emery a local judge and state office holder. Built in the Federal style the house has been modified several times resulting in additions to the back of the house, and exterior porches. The interior of this stately home is simple and yet elegant as befits the style of the era. The gardens of this home join with those of the Old Courthouse and feature many trees and flowers that were planted early in the 20th Century.

The Cummings House was also built in 1818, but suffered a devastating fire in 2000. Current owners rebuilt carefully to recreate the historic home complete with mural and wall paper details. Only the old lilacs survived the fire, but modern gardens reflect the flowers and shrubs of the 19th century.

The Registry was built in 1826 and served as the County Offices until 1895. The building consisted of four rooms: two upstairs and two down. The four smaller back rooms were added later as vaults for town documents. This home has been owned by the same family since 1920. The side yard was the location of the First Universalist Church from 1859 - 1955 when fire destroyed the structure.

The Marble Farmstead on Lincoln Street was built in 1840 as a four room farmhouse. As fortunes increased the original owner added on creating the New England "big house, little house, back house, barn" connected farmstead. The connection ell was torn down in 2004 due to structural issues and the barn saved, but reduced in size. The house has been recently completely restored and a three season porch added.

Hammond House was build by Benjamin Gates in 1853. The original large farm barn was removed, but the remaining house and attached carriage house are original to the property. The footprint of the original house remains intact as the does interior woodwork. A four season porch was added in 2003, and the former ell was reworked in 2008 to include a back stairway.

The Birches was built in 1885 by a renowned Paris Hill hostess who threw legendary parties in the 18 room house. The home has six bedrooms, five bathrooms and five working fireplaces. Current owners have completely restored the house over the past 12 years and are still at work on the gardens including a kitchen courtyard and stone pathways.

Don't miss your chance to get inside these historic homes, some of which have never been open to the public. Tickets may be purchased on the day of the event at the Marble Farmstead on 57 Lincoln Street, or near the Registry on the Common. Next blog will preview the 8 gardens on the tour.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Paris Hill Community Club

The Academy Building was built in 1856 largely due to the efforts of Jarvis C. Marble and others who raised $2800 in contributions from the local community. The building took only one year to complete as citizens volunteered labor and equipment to get the first school on Paris Hill established. Two other attempts at this challenge had failed, but this group was successful. The building opened with a celebration ball that fall, and then began holding classes in 1857. Decreasing enrollments due to the passage of Maine's free high school law of 1893 led to the closure of the school in 1901.

In addition to the school, the building has long been a venue for entertainment. The Thespian Club, a theater group revived in the 1860's, held plays and music events. The Unity Club took over in the 1870's and continued the tradition of providing entertainment producing comedies, operettas and organized socials.

After the school closed the building continued to be used for community entertainment such as dances, dinners, theater and music events. In 1948 the community renovated the former schoolroom and redecorated, adding a full kitchen to accommodate the monthly suppers. In 1957 The newly formed Paris Hill Village Corporation was organized to take over control of the building. Then in 1966, the Corporation was disbanded and the building was sold for $1.00 to the Paris Hill Community Association. (Information taken from Martin Dibner's book, Portrait of Paris Hill.)

Renovations and improvements have continued since 1966 with changes to the stage area, a bathroom and storage added, upgrades to the kitchen. Most recently we have painted the theater area upstairs, and repaired several windows. But the big challenge continues to be the foundation. Two sides of the granite foundations have been restored, but two more remain in poor condition.

This centrally located building continues to be the focal point for an active community committed to preserving the history of this village which was recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1973. Monthly suppers are held from May to September. Weddings and anniversary events are booked into the large spacious hall, and we continue to encourage entertainment groups to use the stage and theater upstairs.

Fundraising efforts to maintain this 154 year old building have centered around Home Tours of the village. Historically the Tours have been elaborate Christmas events with homes decorated for the holidays. However, this year we are returning to much earlier tradition, and have scheduled a summer Home and Garden Tour for July 16, 2011 in concert with the annual Founder's Day celebration on the Common. Our goal is to raise enough money to complete the foundation repair and fully stabilize the structure.

More details will follow on this blog about this exciting event. But mark your calendars now for what promises to be a magical tour of 7 homes and gardens, and 8 gardens. Some of these homes have never been open to the public.

This is your chance to see what careful stewardship of Maine's history can accomplish in this nationally recognized Historic Landmark.

Remember: July 16, 2011 Paris Hill Founder's Day. Home and Garden Tour and 33rd Annual Classic Car Exhibit. Vendors, food and entertainment all day. We are located off Hwy 26 between Norway and Bethel on the Paris Hill Road.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Getting Acquainted

Welcome all to the new Paris Hill Blog. I will be posting community events of interest, historical musings on our village, and other topics of interest to villagers, family members, and visitors.

We begin with the Historical Society Event scheduled for tonight at the Community Club in the Old Academy Building. We are hosting an "Antiques Roadshow-style" evening as a fundraiser for the Historical Society and Community Club. Bring 3 items for $10.00, meet with our antique experts and find out some history and an estimated value. These are not formal appraisals, but rather a place to start your research and evaluation. We will also be serving a delicious supper of salads, cold chicken and beans. Come on down and see the treasures your neighbors have been hiding.

Last night's Community Club supper took place despite a raging wind and rain storm. We had a lovely dinner and then trooped upstairs to admire the newly redone walls in the theater room. Very nice. Painting begins on Monday, and all should be ready for the upcoming Brooks Family wedding in early September.

Next up is the 2nd Annual Barn Sale Benefit scheduled for August 14 - 15. Donations may be delivered to the Brogan Barn beginning on August 10. This is another collaborative fundraiser with proceeds going to the Historical Society and Community Club. We will need set up and selling help, so call Janet at 743-6862 to volunteer.

Next year is the big year for us with the newly re vitalized House and Garden Tour on Founder's Day, July 16, 2011. We currently have 14 Houses and Gardens and 7 Gardens only on the tentative list. This is an amazing response from the neighborhood and we are hopeful that we will be able to make a substantial contribution to the Academy Foundation Repair Fund. Needless to say we will need lots of help as that date approaches. Let Janet know how you want to help.

That's it for now. Hope you enjoy the blog. Let me know if you would like to contribute articles, photos, or ideas for a better design. Until next week.