Millinocket's First Churches
Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
In 1898-99, the mill was under construction and businesses, homes and other structures were quickly being constructed. Some turned their attention to the religious needs of the new community. Union Chapel was erected near the corner of Cherry Street and Katahdin Avenue to provide a place for religious services and meetings. It was used until late 1902. Most people attending were Congregationalists and Baptists.
As early as 1899, the pastor of St. Benedict’s in Benedicta came to Millinocket to offer Catholic services. Soon a new parish in the woods was created and Fr. Martin Clary was named first pastor. He arrived on the feast of St. Martin of Tours. A temporary chapel in an abandoned shack (formerly Kimball Trading Co. on the mill site) served as the first church. By Christmas Day 1900, the parishioners attended service in the church newly erected on the corner of Maine Avenue and Colby Street. This church building was replaced by a new church with a new modern look just across the street in 1970.
St. Andrews Episcopal Church was completed in 1901 and soon after a rectory built. At that time there were seven families of that faith in town, Fred Tingley’s book A Warden’s Tale states the building supports were stone topped with red brick posts. The basement floor was sand. Heat was by a wood-coal furnace piped to floor registers. The church had no resident pastor until 1905. Later, there was need for more space and in 1962, GNP made available ¾ of the land where the hotel had been. A new church and parish hall were constructed.
In 1902, 21 persons signed a petition to organize the Millinocket Baptist Church. Soon, land at the corner of Penobscot Avenue and Spring Street was set apart and dedicated as a place for the church building. Men, women and children all contributed in some way. The first services were held in October, 1903 with Rev. C. E. Young as pastor. It was a while before there were pews in the church, Rev. Young left in 1907, to be replaced by Rev. Berrie. The basement was completed and a parsonage built. Then in January, 1924, tragedy struck as the church was destroyed by fire. Only the land and parsonage remained. With the aid of townspeople, individuals and organizations a new church was erected on the same site and continues in use today.
In 1903, the First Congregational Parish of Millinocket was incorporated. Committees were elected to choose a site and solicit funds for a church building. It was decided that the church should be located near the future center of population, be designed to accommodate 300 people and the cost about $4000.00. In the meantime, services were held in the McCafferty Block (later Newberry’s). The church’s foundation was completed in 1903 and George Ferland, local contractor was to erect a building for $650, labor only. Volunteers who built the foundation were also busy building their own homes and working at the mill at the same time. The first services were held in the church Feb. 7, 1904. There were no pews or pulpit and the furnace smoked so badly that it was hard to breathe. The Pastor was Rev. Wm. McNeil.
The Congo Church is the only original structure of the first four still standing.
Note the mislabeling of the Episcopal Church on the vintage postcard!