The Castine Historical Society is publishing Missions and Meeting Houses, Chapels and Churches, a study of “four centuries of faith” in this historic community. The book’s author, Lynn Hudson Parsons, is History Professor Emeritus at the State University of New York at Brockport, a member of the Society’s Board of Directors, and a resident of Castine.
This new book traces the history of religion in the Castine area from encounters between Native Americans and Jesuit priests in the early seventeenth century to the dawn of the present century, and is a treasury of revealing stories.
It begins in 1611, with the arrival of the first French Jesuits, continues though the incorporation of the town in the 1790s, when the first meeting house was built, and is followed by the division of the original Congregational church in the 1820s into “Orthodox” and “Unitarian” branches. By the end of the nineteenth century, Castine had changed from a successful commercial port to a summer resort, and other churches added their steeples to the community’s profile.
In the twentieth century, with a decline in the town’s year-round population, the remaining Castine churches struggled to continue. Three congregations considered merging, but decided instead to stay separate and cooperate in other ventures. This very New England solution has become one of the strengths of the town, as set forth in this book. Missions and Meeting Houses, Chapels and Churches tells the story of four disparate churches trying to survive, and by surviving, giving life, faith and character to a community.
The 2013 seasonal exhibit at the Castine Historical Society, also titled “Missions and Meeting Houses, Chapels and Churches,” will highlight the relationship between Castine’s churches and community life through the early twentieth century. Located in the Abbott School on the Castine Common, CHS will open to the public on June 4 with early-season hours through June 22, Tuesdays through Saturdays from 1-4 pm. The regular season runs June 24 through Labor Day, with exhibits and the Gift Shop open Mondays-Saturdays, 10am-4pm, and Sundays 1-4pm. Admission is always free. The book will sell for $19.95 at the Society’s Gift Shop or by order through the CHS website; CHS members receive a 10 percent discount on the book and all gift shop purchases.
For more information on the book, the exhibit or CHS membership, please call the Society at 326-0828, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit castinehistoricalsociety.org.