The Churches of Millinocket
Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum
Magical events and were taking place in the Maine woods in 1899. Construction of the new Great Northern Paper Company’s mill was well underway and a town was beginning to emerge. The Bangor and Aroostook Railroad trains were bringing in people and goods, peddlers were busy selling their wares and a few stores sprang up in or near the mill yard. From the beginning, the early residents looked to bring religious services to this growing community.
The earliest church service was held in a pine grove near the mill where a missionary named Reverend C. E. Young held the first meeting. Shortly after, Union Chapel was erected near the corner of Cherry Street and Katahdin Avenue. This small building was used by all denominations, and in these early days was also the new community’s school. Later this building was moved to Central Street (later O.S. Gonya Garage site) where it served as a community center until it became the Armory.
St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church became the first of four churches to be constructed between 1899 and 1904. St. Martin’s first service took place on Christmas Day, 1900 with Father Clary as pastor. The church was located at the corner of Colby Street and Maine Avenue. In 1901, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (corner of Colby Street and Highland Avenue) was completed and followed in 1903 by the Baptist Church (Penobscot Avenue & Spring Street) and in 1904 by the Congregational Church (Central St. and Katahdin Avenue). All four churches were constructed on company land designated by the company for that purpose.
In the 1920’s, these churches welcomed many people to their Easter services and other events. There were Easter sales at many businesses in town, there was an annual Easter Ball and many students and others returned home for vacation during Easter week.
Other Easter week occurrences mentioned in the newspapers during the 1920’s include the Congregational Church ladies Easter sale during the day and a piano recital in the evening. The annual Easter Ball sponsored by the Knights of Columbus usually took place at the Opera House with a chicken supper being served, a concert by a local musical group (Venetian Melody Boys, Katahdin Troubadours) and then the Easter Ball. So many people usually attended that the supper was served in the rooms adjoining the ballroom and the basement and some diners had to go to a nearby establishment called the Manhattan Restaurant!
On one occasion in the 1920’s, some of the space in the Opera House was being used to store new automobiles causing even more Easter Ball patrons to enjoy their chicken supper at the Manhattan Restaurant! The restaurant was under management of Harrold D. Russell. It had a lunch counter and tables to seat seventy people.
Note in the vintage post card photo, the episcopal church is labeled St. John's not St. Andrew's.