Sunday, March 15, 2020

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAINE!


Although the citizens of Maine (at least the male citizens, as women could not vote) voted in July of 1819 to separate from Massachusetts (by a vote of 17,000 for independence, 7,000 against) it was far from a done deal.  There was a state constitution to write and submit to Congress for approval.  It was an enterprise fraught with difficulties.  The major stumbling block was that at that time there was an equal number of slave states and free states.  By admitting Maine as a free state it would tip the balance and southern states weren't going to allow that to happen.

"And so we had to achieve statehood by a vote of the Congress by March 4, 1820, or else we fell back into the legal possession of Massachusetts.  So, we're racing a clock and we're racing uphill against political prejudice that has frozen the United States in the position of the generation since the Revolution.  What happens in the House of Representatives is known as the infamous Missouri Compromise.  The speaker of the United States House, a slave owner, manages to engineer a compromise that lets Maine and Missouri territory into the union at the same moment.  And we accepted - with huge reservations - the deal."  - Herb Adams

That deal nearly tanked the push for Maine to become a state.  Five of the seven Maine congressmen voted against it as they did not want to see Maine taking part in the perpetuation of slavery but in the end the compromised passed and Maine became a state.  This did not stop Maine residents, however from continuing the battle against slavery though.

Brunswick, Maine resident, Harriet Beecher Stowe, penned her famous book, Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1851.  Many consider it the pivotal work in rallying people in the country to oppose slavery.  Portland, Maine was also a stop on the underground railroad which helped runaway slaves on their way to freedom in Canada.  Fourteen years later, the deal that gave Maine her statehood became a moot point when slavery was abolished by President Abraham Lincoln.  




Sunday, March 1, 2020

THE MAPLE CREST A long and varied history.

This sprawling three-story structure is located about two miles southwest of East Parsonsfield Village at a sharp bend in Maple Crest Road.  It was built as a summer hotel in 1887 and could accommodate about 35 people.  A. C. Varney was proprietor.  It later continued as a summer hotel under the name of Forest Lake House with Charles C. Varney as proprietor.  


In about 1912 the complex was purchased by Dr. Francis J. Welch, a young specialist in tuberculosis and respiratory diseases and operated as a private sanitarium called “Maple Crest Sanatorium”.  


The property consisted of the main house with spacious covered piazzas, annex and a cottage.  The buildings were steam heated and bathrooms and plumbing facilities assured proper sanitation.  They boasted of excellent natural spring water and fresh food from the region.  Each patient received careful individual attention and their treatment was governed according to their needs. A congenial atmosphere and an absence of institutionalism was noted.  There was a house doctor available, graduate nurses constantly in attendance and private nurses could be obtained if requested. 
Spacious covered sleeping porches permitted the
 patients to sleep out-of-doors while
remaining protected from the weather.

After World War I, Dr. Welch contracted with the Veterans Administration to treat veterans with lung diseases.  He resumed his private operation in the 1930’s under the name of “The Rest Land Sanitarium” and owned the property until the late 1950’s when he died.  

Subsequently this property was used as a sportsmen’s lodge - the “Randall Mountain Lodge - then about 1974 & 1975 was operated as a restaurant by Edward Stowe, a chef from Connecticut. 

In 1975 it was purchased by "Elan One Corp." as the organization's fifth treatment center for teenagers with various types of behavioral problems.  They accommodated 60-80 teenagers and a staff of 26.  It was not welcomed by the local residents but continued to operate here until mid-1981.  Elan drastically changed the fa├žade and added the box-like structure to the front.  It became dilapidated while it remained empty until about 2008.