In addition to our regular community dinners, parties and events – we are excited to have a number of large public events this summer that are community wide and important to the organizations involved.
Please consider attending any and all you can – and spread the word of all the happenings on the hill!
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.
Before the small village of Paris Hill was founded in 1779, it was known as Jackson Hill. The Jackson family farmstead sat atop the hill and remnants of the farm can be seen within the boundaries of what is now known as the “Cornwall Preserve”. I use the term ‘remnants’ loosely as all that remains are hefty stone walls, the historic ice pond dam and a forest of giant trees, ferns, and wildlife.
The preserve consists of 147 acres of woodland which would have been home to the farmhouse, barn, outbuildings, orchards and working fields. Three miles of trails weave around the preserve and are fairly well marked with splashes of colored paint on trees. Each trail is marked with a different color paint as they intertwine throughout the densely overgrown forest, crisscrossing one another as you venture deeper into the woods. The paths are very worn and lumpy, definitely a challenge for anyone who isn’t sure footed or wearing ‘appropriate footwear’…sneakers or boots are a must…as are socks and insect repellent. A walking stick would have been helpful fording those slippery, mossy stream rocks. However, the trails are considered easy and fairly well maintained. The Town of Paris is responsible for the maintenance of the preserve having received the land from, long time Paris Hill resident Alice Cornwall, and having it remain a nature preserve in perpetuity.
It was a beautiful early June morning and I beckoned my favorite person in all things historical, Rosemary Losso, to join me and we headed to the preserve. After dousing ourselves in insect repellent and pulling our hats down over our ears and our socks up over our pant legs (how attractive), we headed past the welcome kiosk and into the woods. We played it safe and followed the “white trail” which is the main trail…being directionally challenged I was good with that decision. The trail beckoned us as we stepped into the midst of an ethereal overgrowth of giant ferns, mosses of every color green imaginable, and ancient trees the size of which there is no comparison. As the sunlight filtered through the overgrowth it felt like we were walking into a timeless sanctuary where peace and beauty emanate.
Caught by surprise, our first mystical encounter was a stump (see gallery below) transformed by a miniature red table surrounded by numerous acorn caps and sprinkled with fairy dust as if a fairy tea party had taken place earlier. As we continued on, more and more enchanting surprises lay ahead as we entered the designated “mystical forest” section of the trail. Tiny rabbit and green frog figurines would peer out of crooks in the tree roots, amazing stick sculptures and log creatures appeared…every turn was an adventure of creativity. Elaborate fairy dwellings and sculptures piqued our interest in who had come before with such imagination.
Enter the sound of trickling water as a meandering stream lead us out of the mystical forest and into what I would call the ‘forest primeval’. The gentle rippling of the water over the moss covered river rocks and sometimes boulders was soothing and steady. Sometimes the stream would cross our path and provide a slippery slope to cross as our shoes slipped over the mossy stones before terra ferma was once again under foot. This area cried out for reptilian and amphibian creatures to slither over and among the mossy stream bed including salamanders and wood frogs and I’m sure snakes although we didn’t see any on this hike.
Soon we happened upon a small rustic hand scored sign leaning against the base of a tree where the white and purple trails meet. (See photo) We could just barely make out “The Ice House Trail” pointing off to the left and we decided to follow the purple trail to see if we could get a glimpse of the old ice house. The purple trail follows the meandering brook with twists and turns, past giant boulders of glacial origin and eventually rejoins the white trail. About halfway along this trail the river rocks turn into larger boulders and are stacked one on top of the other in what must have been the old “ice house dam”. The ice house is long gone but the dam remains as testament to its existence.
After the dam, the trail became a little more uphill and followed the stonewalls of centuries ago that would have cleared and sectioned off the Jackson haying fields. There were trees the size I couldn’t have even imagined…if these trees were to fall in the woods they would definitely make a sound whether you were present or not. We had finally circled back to the white trail and headed towards the parking lot. We caught glimpses of little clay creatures hidden in nooks and crannies as we put the ‘mystical forest’ behind us. The little red table on the stump we noticed on our way in with the acorns had been moved by a forest angel I’m sure.
As the forest primeval had welcomed us, it just as ethereally bid us farewell. The same light led us back to the parking lot and we left with lighter hearts than when we started.
I highly recommend a visit to the Cornwall Preserve but dress accordingly and leave it just as mystical as you find it. And take your cellphone in case you get lost or take a tumble.
These two websites provide a wealth of knowledge regarding the preserve and the flora and fauna found there:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
The first commemorative Paris Hill Egg was a huge success as a fundraiser this year. Linda has sold all but a dozen of the “Eggs” out of the 200 eggs she purchased.
If anyone has yet to purchase an egg and would like to, please contact Linda Richardson as soon as possible. The interest was phenomenal and many are awaiting next year’s egg with a different Paris Hill building and different color to add to your collection. The addition of Jeff’s handmade cherry stand really made a nice presentation for the egg to be displayed.
The Paris Hill Historical Society began using its present building on 48 Tremont Street in 1993. Edwine Guyer was instrumental in securing the location with the land deeded by the Paris Hill Utility District. It was built by students from the Oxford Hills Vocational Technical School with plans to resemble a one room schoolhouse designed by A.K.(Alex) Alexander. The need for the building was critical since the society’s beginnings in 1967. The group had collected many items of historical interest from the area and needed a repository for them. Prior to that the society met in members’ homes, upstairs in the Country Club, in the Academy (now the Community Club), the Albion K. Parris Law Office as well as in the vestry of the First Baptist Church.
This summer we hope residents will take an interest and stop by to see what we have to offer. Every year we change what is in our display cases. This year we are thinking of putting together an exhibit on The Women of Paris Hill. If you have items (photos, diaries, journals, etc) on an interesting Paris Hill woman we would love to share them in the display. A walking tour of Paris Hill was another idea for this summer. Newer residents may not be aware that we have files on many of the houses, past residents of Paris Hill and interesting artifacts not on display in the other public buildings of the town. One of the projects that visitors to the village comment on is how much they enjoy the historical signs on many of the homes in town. This is just one of the projects that the society sponsored to help in its mission to preserve and promote the rich history of Paris Hill.
We hope to be open on Thursday afternoons throughout the summer and are willing to open the building on request. We have a loyal group of supporters who continued to support us during the last two years. Our dues have been kept at just $30 a year because of their generosity. Presently, the two officers and three trustees try to continue the work of the society to include the maintenance of the building and grounds. Beside our need for more residents who are willing to consider joining us on the board as a trustee, we need a larger venue to host the programs that will keep the history of Paris Hill real, relevant and relational for our community. Please give us a contact us or stop by this summer if you wish to join and are not on our mailing list
As spring arrives, we look forward to a great season at the Paris Hill Country Club. The course has survived the winter and Chris Johnson will have it in pristine condition for all to enjoy. Along with golf we will again have live entertainment, food and drinks on the beautiful deck with a gorgeous view of the course. The Full Pour Bar & Grill will be serving again this year. The club will be hosting various tournaments, special nights for entertainment, and of course the Paris Hill Music Festival. There is plenty of fun for both golfers and non-golfers alike and we continue to look for more ways to bring everyone together and support the club. We are working to increase membership from the current 180 members to 230 over the next few years. The cost of an individual membership is $425. Check our website for other membership options and updated tournament schedule.
Paris Hill is one of the oldest golf courses in Maine, established in 1899 and the clubhouse purchased in 1912 with the first year of operation at the current location in 1913. The Country Club is a true gem for Paris Hill residents and surrounding communities. Greens fees provide revenue for the club and give golfers an opportunity to play at our picturesque and challenging course. The club is also available for private functions both large and small. Board members are enthusiastic and work hard for the benefit of the club and we continue to look for ways to increase revenue to sustain a high quality golf course and café. Chris keeps the course in great condition. Nancy Cushman has been a tremendous help to the board.
I appreciate the opportunity to serve as president of the board. My fellow board members are a tremendous resource. We have a great group and we are looking forward to a fun season. My husband, Terry Downes, and I bought our home on Tremont Street nearly seven years ago. While I still teach law part-time, which prevents us from being there as much as we’d like, we realized from the beginning that it is a wonderful place, friendly neighbors and a real sense of community. The incredible bonus is a beautiful golf course we can stroll to. There is so much going on and we enjoy it year round. You’ll see me walking the loop and playing golf often. Let’s have a fun, safe summer.
In August 2020 Friends of First Baptist Church of Paris, Maine took ownership of the First Baptist Church building and the surrounding Common. It was an historic conveyance of property. Our mission is to preserve the beautiful church and green as community spaces protected from sale or development. We have a preservation easement and restrictive covenants that will help us protect and preserve this remarkable property in the heart of Paris Hill.
We invite you to support us in our endeavor. As stewards of these historic spaces, we have been working hard to keep the church, dating from 1838, in fine condition. But, we must raise every dollar for the annual maintenance, operations and upkeep of the building and grounds. In the near future this will include, for example, some challenging work on the steeple, which holds the bell cast in 1821 by Paul Revere’s son, Joseph Warren Revere.
Throughout the year there are wonderful community events that we organize or support, such as Founders Day (organized by the Hamlin Memorial Library) and the Hannibal Hamlin Birthday Celebration (sponsored by us, with significant support from local businesses.) In addition, there may be other events, such as concerts on the Common or at the church. These events help us celebrate the history of Paris Hill and this neighborhood we call home.