April 20, 2019

Sedgwick envisions local historic district

SEDGWICK — Contending that it may be the state’s oldest meetinghouse in continuous use, town officials hope to have their Town House and a few other local landmarks added to the National Register of Historic Places.

That way, if someone wanted to “build a superhighway” in the area, “they couldn’t widen the road right there,” Selectman Colby Pert said Tuesday.

Pert says the unassuming white Town House is in good shape for a place that has been tramped through for nearly 200 years. Until fairly recently, the town offices were located there, and the building is still used for the annual town meeting.

“We realize there’s no architectural significance” to the building, Pert said. “We feel the significant thing is its continued use for 200 years.”

Built before the idea of separating church and state dictated popular practice, the Town House was used for town functions and worship, Pert said. In the 1840s, the construction of a Baptist church removed religion from the premises.

Across from the 1794 Town House is the former residence of the Rev. Daniel Merrill, a clergyman Pert said was less well-known than artist-minister Jonathan Fisher of Blue Hill, but who apparently settled in the area earlier than Fisher.

Pert said state officials suggest restoring parts of the Town House, such as the ceiling, to its earlier condition before seeking registry status. A Town House bicentennial committee is expected to present ideas for the building at the next annual town meeting.

A local historic district also could include an old cemetery and a cattle pound, said Pert, who described the pound as a jail for strayed cattle that had to be “bailed” out by their owners.

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