Chair: George Colby – gccolby@maine.rr.com – (207) 926-4217

Members: Karen Gilles

 

NewGloucester

New Gloucester is a town in Cumberland County, Maine. It is home to the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, the last active Shaker village in the U.S. The town’s population was 5,542 at the 2010 census.

New Gloucester was established under a grant from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1736, the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony granted a 6-square-mile (16 km2) tract of land in the Maine Territory to sixty inhabitants of the Gloucester fishing village on Cape Ann. The first settlers followed the road newly bushed out from North Yarmouth and built cabins on Harris Hill between 1739 and 1742. The settlement was abandoned from 1744-1751 due to the heightened Indian attacks during King George’s War.

Settlers returned and in 1753 commenced work on a two-story, fifty-foot square blockhouse with a palisade stockade 110 feet (34 m) on a side. This was home to twelve families for six years. The men worked at clearing the surrounding 60 acres (240,000 m2) of common land under the protection of two swivel guns manned by a garrison of six soldiers. One attack was made upon the fort, resulting in one scalping and two men captured. As the Indians gradually withdrew to Canada, the settlers moved out into their own newly built homes. The blockhouse continued to serve for worship and town affairs until the first meetinghouse was built in 1773. In 1788, the blockhouse was sold at auction for seven bushels of corn and moved to a farm in the intervale, where it was rebuilt as a hog house.

New Gloucester was incorporated on March 8, 1774, and was named after Gloucester, Massachusetts.

New Gloucester became a half shire town with Portland, and the courts met here from 1791 until the organization of Oxford County in 1805, when they returned to Portland. With good soil for agriculture, the town developed as a prosperous farming community. In 1858, when the population was 1,848, other industries included six sawmills, two gristmills and two tanneries.

Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village was founded in 1783 by the United Society of True Believers at what was then called Thompson’s Pond Plantation. It was formally organized on April 19, 1794. Today, the village is the last of formerly nineteen religious societies, stretching from Maine to Florida, to be operated by the Shakers themselves. It comprises 18 buildings on 1,800 acres (7.3 km2) of land.