Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Readfield

Lake and Mountains in Readfield (2002)

Lake and Mountains in Readfield (2002)

Location Map for Readfield

Location Map for Readfield

Year Population
1970 1,258
1980 1,943
1990 2,033
2000 2,360
2010 2,598
Readfield Population Chart 1800-2010

Population Trend 1800-2010

Geographic Data
N. Latitude 44:22:56
W. Latitude 69:57:06
Maine House District 81
Maine Senate District 14
Congress District 1
Area sq. mi. (total) 31.1
Area sq. mi. (land) 29.2
Population/sq.mi. (land) 89.0
County: Kennebec

Total=land+water; Land=land only
Union Meeting House (2002)

Union Meeting House (2002)

Sign: Welcome to Readfield (2002)

Sign: Welcome to Readfield (2002)

[REED-field] is a town in Kennebec County, incorporated on March 11, 1791 from a portion of Winthrop. It restored some land to Winthrop (1810), annexed land from “Thirty Mile Strip” (1809) and from Wayne (1821). The town also swapped land with Mount Vernon (1825 and 1845) and with Manchester, then known as Kennebec (1850, 1852, 1854).

By the date of incorporation, James Craigg had been operating a sawmill and a grist mill for several years.  In 1798 a post office was established at Readfield Corner.  The 19th century saw a variety of businesses in operation including a scythe factory, a cheese factory, another sawmill and grist mill, a tannery, brick yards, woolen mills, and a barrel factory.

Inventor Leonard Norcross was born here in 1798.

Readfield is the birthplace of two governors: Jonathan G. Hunton and Dr. John Hubbard.  Another governor and member of Congress, Anson P. Morrill, lived at Readfield Corners after retiring from public office. Its Kennebec County Fair, historically produced by the Kennebec Agricultural Society, has been held annually since 1856.

Great Meadows Equestrian Center in Kents Hill (2002)

Great Meadows Equestrian Center in Kents Hill (2002)

Kents Hill School was established initially as the Maine Wesleyan Seminary in 1824 by Luther Sampson. It has produced several prominent leaders in the area of public affairs.

According to the posted history on the School’s site, the Meeting House Common was the site of militia musters in the 1800’s. The Union Meeting House itself, built in 1827 and now on the National Register of Historic Places (see below), was open to any religious denomination. The Smith Mansion served as the Union Meeting House rectory for a time, beginning in 1868.

Meeting House Common (2002)

Meeting House Common, Near the Meeting House (’02)

Town Office (2002)

Town Office (2002)

Another meetinghouse, billed as “the first Methodist Meeting House in Maine,” according to the plaque at the Jesse Lee Church, proclaims that it was built in 1794 and dedicated on June 21, 1795.

In the late 19th century, a major economic impact was made by the Readfield Manufacturing Company, a “sash and blind” factory, among other pursuits.

Readfield Depot is a small village near the northeast corner of that part of Maranacook Lake that extends into the town.  Prior to the coming of the railroad, it hosted a stage line, several inns, a cattle pound and a grain mill. The Androscoggin & Kennebec Railroad arrived in 1849.  By the early 1900s the Maine Central Railroad operated passenger, freight, and mail service at the Depot.

The main village is located on the northwest shore of Maranacook Lake at the junction of Maine Routes 17 and 41. It contains several classic buildings. The Asa and Ursula (Smith) Gile House belonged to a Captain John Smith, whose Daughter, Ursula (Smith) Gile, donated part of the house to Readfield Union Meeting House for use as a vestry in the 1860s.

Asa and Ursula Gile House (2017)

Asa and Ursula Gile House (2017)

Asa and Ursula Gile House (2017)

Asa and Ursula Gile House (2017) @

Readfield Community Library (2017)

Readfield Community Library (2017)

The Readfield Community Library was home of Dr. Samuel Currier, Readfield’s first physician. It was donated to Readfield by Currier’s great-granddaughter Alice Currier Eaton in the 1940’s.

Form of Government: Town Meeting-Select Board-Manager.

Additional resources

http://www.kentshill.org/

Bracy, Ernest L. Keeping Faith: The Story of the Readfield Union Meeting House. Readfield, Me. E.L. Bracy. c1990. [Maine State Library]

Kingsbury, Henry D. “Town of Readfield.” New York H. W. Blake & Co. 1892. (Extracted from: Ilustrated History of Kennebec County, Maine, 1625-1799-1892 / editors Henry D. Kingsbury, Simeon L. Deyo.) [Maine State Library]

*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

Kent’s Hill School Historic District: 79000149.PDF
Lee, Jesse, Church: 84001378.PDF
Readfield Union Meeting House: 82000756.PDF

Page, Mary Schultze. Reflections of Readfield (The Story of Our Town). Farmington, Me. Knowlton & McLeary Co. 1975.

**Readfield Historical Society. “Readfield, Maine History Walks.” December 7, 2012. http://readfieldhistorywalks.blogspot.com/2012/ (accessed April 4, 2017)

Reflections of Readfield (The Story of Our Town).  Farmington, Me. Knowlton & McLeary Co. 1975.

Varney, George J. A Gazetteer of the State of Maine. 1886. p. 476.

National Register of Historic Places – Listings

Kent’s Hill School Historic District

[Maine Route 17 Kent’s Hill] Before the advent of publicly supported secondary schools in Maine, this level of education was largely carried on by private academies on one hand, or seminaries affiliated with some Protestant denomination on the other. Academies were far more common and were scattered widely so that almost every community of any size boasted one. Seminaries, however, existed in a very small number and one of the earliest of these was what has now evolved as Kent’s Hill School, a private, non-denominational, preparatory school.* See Kents Hill School.

 

Jesse Lee Church (2002)

Jesse Lee Church (2002)

Plaque at the Jesse Lee Church (2002)

Plaque at the Jesse Lee Church (2002)

Lee, Jesse, Church

[Maine Route 17 and Plains Road] The 1795 Jesse Lee Church is significant as the first Methodist Church in Maine, a denomination which later spread widely over the state particularly in rural communities, often supplanting the Congregational churches, which were descendants of the original Puritan theocracy. Its founding came about as a direct result of a tall handsome Virginian missionary, the charismatic Methodist, Jesse Lee. He preached his first sermon at the home of Nathanial Whittier.

Plans were already in the making for building a town house on the common lot deeded from James Bowdoin ( probably James Bowdoin III). At the end of the lot the church was built on that hill, of which Jesse Lee exclaimed, “This is an exalted spot.” In 1825 the building was moved by 50 yoke of oxen 30 rods closer to the road where it now stands. At about the same time it was extensively remodeled in the Greek Revival Style.*

Readfield Union Meeting House

[Church Road] Built in 1828 by the subscription of 43 members, the Readfield Union Meeting House is a handsome late Federal brick church unusually refined for such a rural area. Of even greater significance is the trompe 1’oeil ♦ painting of the 1870s on the interior which is unsurpassed in Maine in technique and imagination.

The style is similar,though more detailed, to that found in the church at Norlands in Livermore. That work is documented as being that of Valentine Keiler of Portland. It is known that Anson Morrill, an active member of the Readfield Church, was a close friend of Governor Israel Washburn, one of the seven Washburn brothers of Norlands, who commissioned Keiler to do the frescoes there.* [See photo above left.]

♦ a painting or design intended to create the illusion of a three-dimensional object

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This entry was last modified: August 29, 2017 09:17 PM

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