|Maine House||District 76|
|Maine Senate||District 17|
|Area sq. mi.||(total) 43.2|
|Area sq. mi.||(land) 37.9|
Total=land+water; Land=land only
[VER-nuhn] is a town in Kennebec County, settled by 1770 and incorporated on June 28, 1792 from Washington Plantation. Continuing to honor President Washington, it took the name of his Virginia estate.
During the eighteenth century, as Massachusetts towns became crowded, proprietors who owned land in the “Eastern Country” (Maine) promoted settlement. But unexpectedly this frontier attracted the poor rather than the prosperous.
As Alan Taylor observed,
In the words of a Mount Vernon settler, the Eastern Country served as “an assalum for people to come and settle on that could not live anywhere else.”
Between 1802 and 1853 it annexed land from Fayette, Goshen Plantation (later Vienna), Vienna, Rome and Belgrade. It swapped land with Readfield in 1825 and 1845.
A stream at Minnehonk Lake powered William Whittier’s 18th century grist mill, now a curiosity, in Mount Vernon Village. Is that a dragon fly on the roof?
The main village, Mount Vernon, is in the north of the town on the deep (73 feet) 99-acre Minnehonk Lake. With its country store, fire and rescue station and church, it is at the junction of Route 41 and Belgrade Road, just west of the Belgrade Lakes.
The village of West Mount Vernon is located at the north end of Echo Lake and the south end of Taylor Pond.
Two Maine governors were born in the town, the first of whom was Jonathan G. Hunton (1781-1851) who served from 1830 to1831. Dr. John Hubbard (1794-1869), governor from 1850 to 1853, was known as the “Father of Prohibition,” having signed Maine’s first prohibition law, banning the sale and manufacture of liquor, in 1851. 19th century Member of Congress John Rice was born here.
In 1926, the novelist Erskine Caldwell moved to an old farmhouse in Mount Vernon, where he lived until the early 1930’s.
The “Maine Chance,” sponsored by beauty entrepreneur Elizabeth Arden, was a luxurious health spa that attracted many celebrities until its closure in 1970.
Mount Vernon has access to several lakes including Minnehonk Lake, Parker Pond, Torsey Lake, Echo Lake (Crotched Pond), Taylor Pond, and Long Pond, one the of Belgrade Lakes.
“Erskine Caldwell, The Art of Fiction No. 62.” Interviewed by Elizabeth Pell Broadwell, Ronald Wesley Hoag. The Paris Review. Winter 1982, No. 86. http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/3098/the-art-of-fiction-no-62-erskine-caldwell (accessed January 29, 2012)
Kingsbury, Henry D. Mount Vernon. New York. H.W. Blake. 1892.
*Maine. Historic Preservation Commission. Augusta, Me. Text and photos from National Register of Historic Places: http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/text/xxxxxxxx.PDF and http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/photos/xxxxxxxx.PDF
Williams, John, House: 84000531.PDF
Mount Vernon (Me.). Bicentennial Literary Committee. Mount Vernon Historical Review. Mount Vernon, Me. The Committee. Summer, 1992. [Maine State Library]
Smith, Beverly Wight. Turning Back: Stories of the Mt. Vernon-Vienna Area. Vienna. Me. Vienna Historical Society. c1985.
Taylor, Alan. Liberty Men and the Great Proprietors: The Revolutionary Settlement of the Maine Frontier, 1760-1820. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 1990. pp. 61-63.
National Register of Historic Places – Listings
Williams, John, House
[Church Street] The John Williams house is a well designed, though altered, Federal Cape. It has a stenciled interior and well preserved woodwork that leads to a beautiful fireplace surround with its most unusual pineapple style.
Its builder was John Williams, a cabinet maker of considerable repute in central Maine, a house wright, carriage maker, and a man of considerable local importance in his community. Born in Chesterville, Williams married the granddaughter of the founder of Mt. Vernon. They moved here in 1827 and built his house with a cabinet shop next door. He soon gained a reputation as a furniture maker and developed a style that became widely admired. Several pieces of his were exhibited at a special show of Maine furniture at the Maine State Museum.
His furniture oriented technique is reflected in the unusual fireplace design. He designed and built at least six houses in the area. He and his sons opened the first wagon and carriage shop in the region. Williams continued his furniture manufacturing until within two years of his death in 1888 at the age of eighty-seven.*