|Maine House||District 119|
|Maine Senate||District 4|
|Area sq. mi.||(total) 49.3|
|Area sq. mi.||(land) 47.2|
Total=land+water; Land=land only
[MON-suhn] is a town in Piscataquis County, settled in 1818 and incorporated on February 8, 1822 from township T9 R8 NWP. The main village is on Maine combined Route 6 and 15 along the eastern shore of Lake Hebron.
In 1807, one half of the original township was granted to Monson Academy of Massachusetts; the other half to Hebron Academy in the District of Maine.
Named for the Massachusetts town from which many of the early settlers came, the town lies on a slate ridge many miles long. In Maine, “Monson” often means “slate” to those who know that its high quality products have been shipped worldwide.
According to the cataloger notes accompanying the Letter Box cited below, “The Monson Maine Slate Company was the most enduring and successful of the Monson slate companies.”
Monson slate was used as the Kennedy Memorial stones marking the resting places of President John F. Kennedy and two children at the Arlington National Cemetery. New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral has a roof made from Monson slate.
The Appalachian Trail runs along the northwestern portion of Lake Hebron, then veers north toward the Doughty Ponds. Past the Doughtys lies Bell Pond, just at the edge of Elliotsville Township, the next leg north on the Trail.
At the turn north, hikers are warned by one sign that they are entering the locally known “hundred mile wilderness,” and that there are no places to get supplies or help until the Abol Bridge at the edge of Baxter State Park. Another AT sign notes that the peak of the 5,267 Mount Katahdin, the ultimate destination, is still 112 mils ahead!
Before heading north, many hikers take the 1.5 detour to Monson Village to set supplies, and possibly a good meal and rest at the legendary Shaw’s Boarding House.
Delano Wildlife Management Area is in the northwest corner of the town, near the Greenville line on combined routes 6 and 15. It surrounds Spectacle Ponds (N45° 20′ 3.30″ W69° 33′ 25.60″), not to be confused with Spectacle Pond in nearby Blanchard Township. Note the boat launch in photo at left.
All AT photos courtesy of Brady G. Williams, 2007.
Image credit: “Monson Birdseye View 1889.” LC classification: G3734.M62A3 1889 .N6. Repository: Library of Congress Geography and Map Division Washington, D.C. 20540-4650 USA dcu. Digital ID: G3734M Pm002462 Http://Hdl.Loc.Gov/Loc.Gmd/G3734M.Pm002462. Image source: http://www.loc.gov/item/73694689 (accessed March 18, 2013)
Image credit: “Monson Slate at JFK memorial.” J. D. Leopold. from https://www.army.mil/article/114074/McHugh_relights_JFK_Eternal_Flame_at_Arlington_National_Cemetery.
*Maine. Historic Preservation Commission. Augusta, Me. Text and photo from National Register of Historic Places: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/text/84001489.PDF and http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/photos/84001489.PDF
Monson Community Church: 12000453.PDF and http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/index.php?topic=mhpc_recent_listings&id=428389&v=article (accessed March 1, 2017)
Swedish Lutheran Church: 84001489.PDF
Monson Engine House (Former): o5000798.PDF
Monson, Me., Sesquicentennial Committee. Monson, Maine, History 1822-1972. Monson, Me. 1972, revised 1996. http://www.monsonmaine.org/MonsonHistory/history1972.html (accessed January 7, 2017)
Monson Maine Slate Company (Monson, Me.) Letter Book, 1902-1913. [University of Maine, Raymond H. Fogler Library, Special Collections]
Sawtell, William R. Monson Academy Revisited 1847-1997. Brownville, Me. W.R. Sawtell. c1997.
Weymouth, Dorothy Folsom. Touring Monson, Maine– Now and Then. Monson, Me. : DWEL Publishing. c2004. [Maine State Library]
National Register of Historic Places – Listings
Monson Community Church
[19 Greenville Road] This Church is a unique religious structure illustrating physically and organizationally how local houses of worship responded to changing demographic patterns in a small Maine town. The physical church was formed when two independent congregations, the Congregational Church and the Baptist Church (both with dwindling membership), realized that neither could continue to maintain separate buildings. After years of planning and fund-raising, the 1845 Baptist church was moved several blocks and attached to the 1860 Congregational church in 1959. Both buildings feature Greek Revival, and to a lesser extent Italianate, detailing. While the form of each building remains distinct, the union is smooth.
Shortly after the move, the sanctuary of the Congregational church was divided into two floors, and classrooms. A library and a lounge was installed on the first floor and an auditorium and stage on the second floor. These alterations, as well as a later completion of a basement dining room under the Baptist church, reflects the congregations desire to provide adequate, dedicated space for Sunday School education. It also symbolizes the evolving desire to provide for gathering spaces that might be used by the larger community. The Monson Community Church is a property that reflects Monson’s evolving social and cultural history.*
Monson Engine House (Former)
[6 Tenney Hill Road] The former Monson Engine House is a significant architectural element on the main street. Built in 1889 to serve as a storage facility for the town’s fire-fighting equipment, and as a meeting hall for Civil War Veterans, this Italianate influenced two story building has served the community in multiple capacities over its history. The plan of the building is somewhat unique among the fire barns built in Maine in the latter decades of the 19th century, but its multi-faceted role as a central civic building for the town was not.
The significance of the Engine House is also the inherently connected the role the building played in the social history of the Town from its construction to the present. The building has been known as the Engine House, the G.A.R. Building, the Town Hall, and the Monson Museum. The names have often been used simultaneously. The building was a response to the Town’s need to provide shelter for its small collection of fire fighting apparatus. The building served in this capacity from 1889 to 1968. In 2017 it was home to the Monson Historical Society and Museum.
The discovery here of slate in 1870, and the formation of the Monson Slate Company and others shortly thereafter, produced a population boom in the late 19th century. As a result services including merchants, professionals and manufacturers, quickly became established in town. By the 1880s, the mouth of Hebron Pond, at the center of town, contained a fairly dense commercial and residential district.The volunteer fire department in Monson was not chartered until 1937, but the town started to acquire fire apparatus as early as 1877, when they appropriated $500 “to buy a Fire Engine and wagons and sleds for the Hooks and Ladders” in order to provide some means for extinguishing fires.*
Swedish Lutheran Church
[Wilkins and Hebron Streets] Built in 1890, the church is architecturally and socially a reminder of Monson’s ethnic heritage. In 1875 Swedish immigrants, as well as Norwegians and Welsh, arrived in Monson to work in the black slate quarries. They built the Swedish Mission Church in an architectural style of similar structures in Sweden. Some of the members were Lutheran, the State Church of Sweden, and some were not. In 1892 the Swedish Methodist Church was built. Thereafter the Swedish Mission Church was known as the Swedish Lutheran Church. Both churches had Swedish ministers who conducted services in Swedish. The Swedish Lutheran Church was sold to the American Legion in 1946. It has been resold several times since.* Frank A. Beard photo]