Liberty Hall - Machiasport, ME
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 44° 41.859 W 067° 23.638
19T E 627244 N 4950618
Quick Description: A source of great pride for the little town of Machiasport for many decades, Liberty Hall has recently been given new life.
Location: Maine, United States
Date Posted: 12/31/2015 8:48:34 PM
Waymark Code: WMQ6XW
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member YoSam.
Views: 2

Long Description:
Designed and built in 1873 by Machias architect Andrew R. Gilson at a cost of about $8,000, the hall served the town until its closing in 2000 due to its declining condition and safety hazards. Locals, loathe to see the demise of their beloved town hall, formed the Committee to Save Liberty Hall and soon raised $1,000,000 toward its restoration. Two phases of a three phase restoration project have been completed, the remaining phase awaiting the forthcoming of sufficient funds to complete.

It has, since its construction, been used as Town Hall, Grange Meeting Hall, Pocahontas and Redmen Meeting Hall, the site of vaudeville shows, theatre productions, political rallies, basketball games, town festivals, suppers and Town Meetings.

Text from the plaque:

Liberty Hall, Machiasport

Overlooking Machias Bay, this building stands in proud testimony to the first naval victory of the American Revolution, "the Lexington of the Sea", on June 11, 1775. It was "a rising of the people against a regular force.... characterized by a long chase, a bloody struggle, and a triumph.... the first blow struck on the water, after the war of the American Revolution had actually commenced". (James Fenimore Cooper).

Architect: Andrew Gilson
Built: 1873

Liberty Hall is an irreplaceable American landmark. It is beautifully located in the small town of Machiasport in rural Washington County, a rugged and unspoiled area of Down East Maine. Built overlooking the site of the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War, Liberty Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1873, Liberty Hall served as Machiasport's Town Hall and as its cultural and community center for over a hundred years. Liberty Hall has long inspired all who saw it. A proud symbol of American history and Maine's distinguished architectural past, a fully renovated Liberty Hall promises to become a vital center for the renewal of community life. Its potential as a focus of historical, cultural and civic activity extends further than Machiasport to encompass Washington County and beyond.

Designed in a bold Italianate style by Machias architect Andrew R. Gilson, Liberty Hall was built in 1873 at a cost of about $8,000. The magnificent building rises above the shores of Machias Bay. Here in 1775 local patriots captured the British ship, HMS Margaretta, in the first sea victory of the American Revolution, a battle often called "The Lexington of the Seas." Liberty Hall was Andrew Gilson's masterpiece. At the time of its building, Liberty Hall stood at the center of the town's bustling prosperity. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, the quays of Machiasport rang to the sound of passengers embarking and disembarking on the Boston-Bar Harbor-Machiasport run, and the loading and unloading of cargoes of lumber and fish. Great steamers and schooners tied up at the wharves, where the Whitneyville-Machiasport railway also had its terminus. Long after the railway ceased, the sardine and herring packing factories preserved some of the town's busy commercial activity.

Construction of Liberty Hall took place from June to December of 1873. In January 1874, a great gala celebration marked the dedication of the building. The local newspapers gave full accounts of the occasion. Despite a powerful storm, over 400 people attended and the Machias Coronet Band performed. Beginning a tradition that continued until 2000, an excellent free supper was enjoyed by all, and dancing continued until dawn.

Liberty Hall quickly became the hub of community activity. Audiences packed the house for regularly scheduled theatrical and civic events. To this day, citizens of Machiasport and its sister towns fondly recall basketball games played or watched there, and the homecoming dinners and social suppers held in the Hall. The building's great theater, with its excellent acoustics and large graceful stage, was (as recently as 2000) the site of many a lively musical and theatrical production that brought people from near and afar.
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Designed in 1873 by Machias architect, Andrew Gilson, Liberty Hall is an imposing high-style Italianate building. Popular throughout the Northeast from the 1840s through the end of the 1870s, the Italianate style was felt to be the highest style of civic architecture in Maine at the time. Built on a grand scale to symbolize the nobility of civic and social affairs, Liberty Hall was the most prominent emblem of Machiasport's prosperity. The carved decorative elements of the style benefited from new technologies that enabled machine-tooled wood-carving on an elaborate scale. Constructed of native pine and hemlock, mainstays of the town's economic fortunes, the building still pays homage not only to Gilson's vision, but to the skill of Maine craftsmen.

Liberty Hall has a simple rectangular block plan, and is sixty-six feet deep by forty feet wide. Its east facade has five bays, with two four-by-four windows on either side of the grand entrance to the building. On the second floor are three double-hung six-by-six windows, the central oversized pair arched at the top and surmounted by an oculus window. The clipped gable roofline is topped by the square tower of the belvedere, featuring, on each side, a pair of arched openings in a single arched top containing another oculus.

Once topped by a stylish mansard roof and gilded weather vane, Liberty Hall's great arcaded belvedere -- another typical feature of the Italianate style -- can be seen from any number of vantage points. The view from the tower is magnificent, overlooking Round Island and the splendor of Machias Bay.

Supported by an intricate system of braces and trusses, the belvedere tower was cleverly designed by Gilson to withstand dramatic ocean winds. Its details -- the giant scroll brackets and splendid denticulated cornice -- are typical of the expert craftsmanship, architectural sensibility, and masterful woodwork of the structure, both inside and out.

Each of the long north and south elevations show three exceptional six-over-six windows, all with deeply carved moldings and scrolled brackets, that still light the auditorium on the second floor. Like all the windows on the building they have splendid bracketed crowns and the original wavy glass. Two four-over-four windows flank the doors on both sides, with the southern door still retaining its original mouldings and bracketed crown as well.

No one could fail to be impressed by the elegance of the carved architectural details of the facade and side elevations, from the scrolled brackets supporting the crowns of the windows to the bracketed overhanging eaves and the beautiful ornamental detail of the belvedere and its elegant base. In addition to these richly detailed elements, one will also notice the decorative surrounds, cornices, and bold rusticated trim at the corners, no doubt intended to resemble masonry construction. The fluid carving of all the architectural details, from the finely executed rustication of the corner pilasters to the scrolls and brackets that support the moulded crowns over the windows both on the upper and lower stories, give a sense of Gilson's unusual attention to the shape and substance of the building.

The young architect took obvious pride in his masterpiece, which he built at the age of 33. In the decorative relief trim at the base of the belvedere tower, he created a chain of ornamental interlocked G's, which proudly reappear again on each of the capitals of the rusticated pilasters at each of the corners of the building.

The foundation of Liberty Hall is composed of large granite blocks supporting the first floor timber framing.

Entering the building from its impressive main entrance, one is immediately greeted by the beautiful double staircase leading to the second floor auditorium, sixty feet deep by forty feet wide. On the way up one will notice the graceful shaped ceiling over the whole vestibule space. Much of the original grain-painted woodwork survives throughout Liberty Hall.
From Liberty Hall
Address and /or location:
Highway 92/Port Road Machiasport, ME USA 04655

Who put it there (Sponsor): The Machiasport Historical Society

Date (Erected or Dediated): Unknown

Visit Instructions:
1) A new photo taken by you. Make it a quality one. You do not have to be in it, nor your hand held.
2) Some new insight to the history, and/or your personal experience finding the site.
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