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Paris Hill Community Club Saturday BBQ Recap

Hosted by Board Members, Jeff (and Lina) Richards and Peter (and Becky), this was our first Saturday Summer Barbecue. About 30 residents and guests attended this event and were treated to games, music, food, and conversation on the lawn in front of the Academy. The crowd was a mix of young and old, new and long time residents plus one amazing Australian Shepard pup.

President Chuck Frost agreed to have a short business meeting outside before going into the Academy for dinner. He thanked our hosts and welcomed new faces to the dinner.

Mike Morin was not present for a treasurer’s report, but the sent in his latest report. Includes proceeds from this dinner. $13,643 Checking, $13,344 Building Fund.

Chuck’s report to the community addressed issues the Board has recently dealt with:

Projects still needing to be scheduled his year if possible:
Roof nail replacement. Board is still searching fro a contractor that can do the work

Mold and sheet rock work on stage: same story. Waiting on possible contractor from Austin Home Builders.

Leslie Olson has volunteered to host the appetizer portion of the Progressive Dinner in early November, date to be determined. Thanks Leslie.

Board of Directors and Officer openings needing to be filled at August Annual Meeting on Wednesday, August 17. Contact board member if you can step up.

President    –  Jon Thompson
Vice Pres    –   Mike Brogan
Secretary    –   Open
Treasurer – Mike Morin
Trustee       –   Janet Thompson
Trustee       –    Open

By-Laws revision omitting Historian Position as a Board position.

Then we went inside to a nice cool Academy for dinner.

The burgers, hot dogs and sausages were grilled to perfection in the Richardson’s garage with delicious salads, many made from homegrown produce. Linda’s garden bouquet was lovely, and the long center table was laden with great food. Thanks to the Brogans, the Thompsons and the Lossos’ for salads. Our hosts surprised us with a different dessert: ice cream sandwiches and Klondike bars!

After dinner many folks hung around outside to enjoy the cool evening and watch a game of croquet (Peter Roy won, I think). Everly Black, 4 years old, provided some entertainment as she tried to figure out croquet. There was more Corn Hole and a ropey game that provided some laughs. And that beautiful Australian Shepard pup playing frisbee.

A very successful first Saturday BBQ Supper. Great idea from our hosts. Let’s make this a regular event.

Next up: August 17, Annual Meeting and Super Summer Salads hosted by the Brogans.

Janet Brogan Secretary

Summer BBQ this Weekend!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and got to check out some of the Founders Day festivities!

We wanted to make sure everyone saw the BBQ invite for this coming weekend! We hope to see a lot of neighbors (adults and kids) there! We will have lawn games, music and BBQ on the Academy lawn. This is our first Saturday BBQ and we hope to make it an annual tradition! If you can rsvp it would help with a head count for food!

Not only is it a great opportunity to meet or chat with your neighbors, all proceeds support the upkeep of the Academy building.

There’s a number of historic public buildings on Paris Hill and non-profits support their upkeep and maintenance – with neighbors volunteering to support. Should you be interested in helping out with any of them, please reach out online via the contact page or at the BBQ, and we will happily help get you as involved as you’d like to be!

Hope to see you all on Saturday!

Restoring the Grand Drape in the Paris Hill Academy Building

 At the spring cleanup in May, several workers remarked that we should look into restoring the rolled up Grand Drape on the stage of the second floor.  Mike Brogan and Linda Richardson collaborated on contacting the company who did a previous estimate of our drape, and the story takes off from there.

Mike contacted Curtains without Borders and talked extensively with Christine Hadsel, Director.  Photos of our curtain, and the stage were sent, and Christine remembered doing the estimate. She proposed a site visit to reassess the condition and make recommendations about restoration.  Since we are scheduling some ceiling work, Christine said it would be best if the drape were removed.

Arrangements were made for Christine to visit, and a crew was assembled to take down the drape with her supervision and properly store it for restoration in the future. Crew members were:  Mike Brogan, Jeff Richardson, Peter Roy,  Linda Richardson and Cathy Richardson.

Much to the surprise of the Community Club our Grand Drape is signed and dated.  This was news to everyone.  The artist is CA Henry and the date is 1892. 

I had lots of questions, and conducted an online interview with Christine.  Here are the questions and answers:

  1. What can you tell us about the artist?

Charles A. Henry (1845- c.1920?) – Charles Henry, not to be confused with Charles W. Henry of Vermont, had a small scenic studio in Boston.  His curtains are found in Moretown, VT, Paris, ME. and Wilmot, NH

An advertisement in the Boston City Directory of 1905 says that his studio “Designs, Manufactures and  Decorates all kinds of Theatrical Work. Theaters and Halls Fitted Up.  Scenery and Stage Properties To Let.”

From Curtains without Borders website:  curtainswithoutborders.org   Check out this site for more photos of restored curtains in New England.

2.  How were these artists trained?

Scenic artists were a mixture of self-taught and apprenticed at large studios.  Some of the  artists began painting advertisements and some ended that way.   Some were portrait and landscape artists, but most were not.  These painters hauled their supplies from town to town and created  magical worlds for small towns and villages.

3. What makes a Grand Drape special?

A Grand Drapes the most important curtain on the stage, whether it is the only one or part of a set.  It hangs right behind the proscenium arch and includes painted drapery, since there were no cloth drapes at that time.  It is usually a romanic, European-style scene, like the one on your drape.   These European themes depicted the romance of long ago and far way.  The scene is set within a painted (usually stenciled) frame and the “drapes” are pulled aside by unseen hands to show the painting.  

NOTE.  We have three of the four side panels that would have been onstage when the drape was up for performances.  These  side panels provided depth and access points for the actors to enter and depart  the scene.  We will have the three repainted and a fourth constructed. 

4.  Can you give a brief description of the process that will be applied to our drape?

Basically, we will clean and mend the curtain and reinforce all four edges, since the edges are where most tears start.  Then we will reattach the curtain to a sandwich of wood at the top and the original roller at the bottom.  We will make a tail at the bottom that will be stapled directly onto the wood.  We will reuse the original pullies, provide new ropes and a new cleat and then supervise reinstalling it at the back of the arch.

5.  What is the most unusual painting you  have restored?

The drape we are working on this summer is at Lisbon Town Hall.  It’s a party scene with musicians and all the ads in balloons.  We restored an almost identical curtain in Canaan, VT.  Both curtains were done by Lucretia Rogers, on the three women scenic artists who all knew each other in the 1930s.

6.  What should we do once the drape is restored?

Christine recommends carefully rolling the drape back up and only unrolling for special occasions.  She also advised getting some regular drapes that cover full arch to further protect the Grand Drape. 

Rosemary Losso was kind enough to donate materials and time to fabricate a temporary drape while the repairs occur.  They will be sewn together and hemmed this summer. Many thanks to all involved and to Curtains Without Borders for their work and guidance!

I found a wonderful article on line about Christine Hadley’s work in New England. It’s in the Yankee Magazine  September 2016 issue. newengland.com.  Worth reading to fully understand the value of these curtains in modern times and the work she has done to restore them.

 The Community Club Board has approved the restoration and work will begin some time next spring.    

Thanks to Janet Brogan for contributing this story!

Paris Hill Yard Sale Fundraiser Recap

To say this was a success is to be somewhat understated.  We had over 28 families participate and many gave generous donations to the Academy Building Fund. To date we have collected roughly $6000.  Of that $2500 was a matching donation from a generous donor.   Well done everyone!

Originally we said these funds would be for the Academy Building roof, and they will be.  We need to repair the metal roof by removing the roof nails and replacing with screws.  This will give us perhaps ten years or so to finish funding a full replacement.  We also have two interior projects that need doing:  sheetrock repair on the  stage ceiling around the chimney,  and next year, the restoration of the Grand Drape which was painted in 1892.   A fuller discussion of our plans will be presented at the Summer BBQ meeting on July 23.  

The money is impressive, but it’s not the biggest story.  The community effort and the fun we all had selling and talking to people was the best part.  Buyers were enthused to be on the hill, some for the very first time.  They loved the unique variety and quality of the merchandise and the willingness of sellers to “deal”.  There are so many stories about selling or giving away things that someone really wanted.   From college kids looking for deals and pretty things to older folks buying items they remembered as children.  We seemed to have something for everyone.   And everyone loved seeing the old houses and barns up close and looking so fabulous.  Paris Hill was  a beautiful  and happy place on this warm sunny day.  The traffic was slow, the walkers were happy.

The crowds started early, and by 1pm almost everyone was sold out.  Many of us put left over items out in front of our homes for free and by evening they were nearly gone.  

Several neighbors who did not join in this year will do so next year.  And here will be a next year.   Repeating events are very important in planning how we care for these historic buildings.  We urge you to take part in other events this summer.  

Upcoming Events

More events

Paris Hill Village Yard Sale!

Saturday, June 25th is the first Paris Hill Village yard sale from 9am-4pm! We are looking forward to nice weather and a good turnout – with over 2 dozen houses participating in the sale.

There will be increased traffic on the hill on Saturday, so please be cautious with kiddos and walks. The Paris Police are going to swing through occasionally to check on things as well.

Thanks to all participating and helping – and for any donations you choose to send to the community club for the promotion and organization of this event. This event is funding additional repairs to the historic Academy building so we can make more use of it throughout the year as a community resource. Also new this year, we hope to host some rentals of the building to help offset the maintenance and upkeep costs in future years. Should you be interested in renting the Paris Hill Academy building for your event, please click here.

May on the Hill

Academy Opening Day

The work day at the Academy on April 30 was a huge success with 20+ residents  pitching to tidy up the inside and the grounds of the Academy. It only took about three hours. As we worked many of us realized that we can direct some of our energy and  precious resources to improving the interior of the building. The kitchen floor needs  sanding and repainting, and the cabinets need to be cleaned inside and out, and  perhaps painted???

As we begin to rent the building this year, we may need to upgrade  appliances and other features in the kitchen to make ready for caterers. None of these  projects are time sensitive, and many can be done by volunteers or through small  donations. More later on those plans. 

Mike Morin will be donating his time and equipment to mow and keep the grounds tidy.  Thanks. 

Time Talent and Treasure. That’s how things get done on Paris Hill.

Academy Grand Drape

Several Board members will be taking the Grand Drape on the upstairs stage down for  eventual restoration. We are having some sheetrock work done on the stage, so  removal of this 100 year old painted drape is critical. The group that restores these  “Grand Drapes” in New England is from Vermont, and has done a previous estimate of  the cost to restore ours. The restorer will be present in mid June when the drape is  removed and wrapped and will give a current estimate. Isn’t this room stunning?

First indoor dinner

Our first indoor dinner since COVID was held on Saturday, May 7. After we put out a  notice about considering masking and social distancing, we may have reduced our  numbers, but those who came were treated to quite a feast of pot luck dishes. BUT  ONLY ONE DESSERT!!!! Can’t recall that every happening. We counted about 20  diners who enjoyed gathering and chatting. Donations from the event were generous  both from those who came and those who sent checks before and after. Last count is  about $750. Thanks everyone. 

Welcome to the new Paris Hill Community Website

Welcome fellow neighbors!

After 12+ years of publishing the On the Hill newsletter, Janet Brogan has decided it is time change things for the better.  We have a mailing list of over 200 residents, and others who love our village, and the newsletter has a been a valuable way to communicate, share stories and events. We believe moving to a dedicated website with more frequent, interactive and dynamic content will help us tell the history and happenings on our village more easily!

A huge thank you to Janet Brogan and all the newsletter contributors who supported the On The Hill newsletter for the last 12+ years!

While the format is changing from the print newsletter to this new website, Janet is staying onboard as an editor and coordinator for news and features going forward.

Should you still want a print copy, we will be sending monthly copies to those who request, as well as posting in the Historical Society display box for viewing each month. The Hamlin Memorial Library is also making available their computers and wifi for access to the site.

Introducing ParisHill.org

As part of the transition to this website we wanted to offer a central place for all Paris Hill organizations, events, notices, news, galleries, links and contacts. These sections make up the menu at the top of the page on mobile devices, or the left sidebar on desktops. When new features and news are posted, emails with links will go to the newsletter and facebook, and the ParisHill.org site will always have the latest information.

Organizations
Each organization has their own page with contact information, history, uses, nonprofits involved, events, news and links. You can view these pages in the Organizations menu, or directly at each link; Hamlin Memorial Library & Museum, Paris Hill Academy, Paris Hill Baptist Church, Paris Hill Country Club and the Paris Hill Historical Society.

Events
In addition to the new organization pages, we wanted a centralized event calendar to capture the many events that happen each summer (and some in winter!) We have over a dozen events this year, including the summer suppers returning, Hannibal Hamlin’s Birthday, the Music Festival, the (43rd annual) Founders Day and more! Details for each are in the events section of this site and updated regularly. We will also continue to promote the same events on our Paris Hill Residents group and the public Paris Hill Historic District facebook page for public events.

More Events

Notices, Links and Galleries
In addition to events, we have notices – which are brief community notices such as power and water outages, MSAD 17 budget meetings, and other things our community may find of use. There is also a community links section which includes links to local resources like the Town of Paris resources and the Utility District. Also new, a Gallery section containing photo galleries from events and happenings around the hill. Expect to see a lot more galleries soon!

News and Features
We’re most excited to begin to have more frequent and visual News and Features content, starting with stories and spring updates from each organization. We’re also planning more frequent stories contributed by writers who are interested in documenting the history of the Paris Hill community! Some great feature ideas Janet Brogan suggested include the Mt Mica Mine, Cooper Springs, the Cornwall Preserve, the Lost Buildings of Paris Hill, and the Little buildings of Paris Hill. Please volunteer if interested in helping write or contribute to a feature!

We realize there may be some hiccups during this transition, so please stay engaged and feel free to reach out anytime with questions, issues or corrections. We’re planning a support session as part of our June summer dinner, if anyone has any questions or needs help navigating the site. We’re also delivering a printed “Community Invite for Summer 2022” to everyone in the coming week. We’ll also be using that to promote this new website and make sure after such a long winter (or two, or three!) new residents are aware of all the events, historical buildings and organizations that support them in our community.

Most importantly, we hope that you will continue to stay engaged with our community after we come out of a much longer than usual winter hibernation. See you out walking as the temperatures warm and yard work calls, and hopefully at some of the many events planned this summer!

History of the Paris Hill Academy

We know the Paris Hill Academy building as the venue for our summer dinners and seasonal events. However the building has a long history as both a school and an entertainment venue dating back to 1856!

After two unsuccessful attempts to establish a school on Paris Hill, the third try was successful.  Fifty-two citizens agreed to financially support the effort.  The lot was purchased from John R. Merrill in 1856 for $300.00.  His house was located at the front left-hand corner of what is now the front lawn of the Dieterich property.  The Merrill house was removed in 1918.   

The building was completed with the help of local residents and a celebration ball was held in the Spring of 1857.   The bell tower, however, remained empty until Edward L. Parris donated a rotary action bronze bell in 1892.

The opening enrollment was made up of twenty-eight boys and twenty-one girls.  Paris Hill Academy was a private school since public education had not been established at the time.  An academic period was eleven weeks.

An ad promoting the Academy stated that “Paris Hill Academy is situated in the beautiful and healthful village of Paris Hill.  It designs to afford the best of facilities to students preparing for College.  A Normal Class, which under the personal supervision of the Principal, holds weekly sessions, also offers superior advantages to young ladies and gentlemen preparing to teach.  The only requirement for admission is a good moral character”.

Maine law in the 1880’s was passed to require towns to provide free schools.  As time went on, private schools were less attractive and by 1900 enrollment at Paris Hill Academy had significantly declined.  The last class to graduate was in June 1901.

The building was used for the next 40 years as an entertainment venue hosting plays, concerts, dances and community socials.  In 1948 the former school room was renovated through the efforts of local residents, and then in 1957 it was a turned over the newly formed Paris Hill Village Corporation for the sum of $1.00.   That corporation dissolved and since 1966, the building is maintained by Paris Hill Community Club

Since then the iconic structure has been carefully maintained and restored through a series of community events and monthly summer suppers, and the occasional House and Garden Tours. Currently we have six suppers that serve the community:  two seasonal parties held in homes, and four summer suppers held in the building.  Donations from these events fund our operating expenses.  

We receive no public funds and rely on fundraising and donations to keep the building intact and doors open during the summer months. This loosely organized group of neighbors, with an elected  Board of Directors and Trustees, has been responsible since 1966  for all restoration and maintenance.

The building is also available to rent by calling President Chuck Frost at 207 743-8458 or via the contact page

Thanks to MaineMemory.net for the playbill images and Heirlooms Reunited for the 1866 Academy Catalogue.