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The Fryeburg Historical Society Museum is the former Registry of Deeds and is historically an important building by virtue of its function as the only nineteenth century governmental office in western Oxford County.  Its architectural significance stems from the unusual representation of a clearly stated Greek Revival style composition on a building of this size and of this material.  On September 20, 1822, a deed was executed between Daniel Clement and the Inhabitants of Oxford County for a parcel of land in Fryeburg whose dimensions were approximately 48 feet by 28 feet.  This appears to be the lot on which the building exists.  This building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 30, 1987.

 

HENRY PIERCE

Written by Diane L. Jones

Born: Baldwin, Maine or Steep Falls, Maine, September 4, 1827 the son of William Pierce who, for many years, kept the old Pierce Tavern in Standish after which was called The James Warren Homestead, a stage stop.

Left Baldwin when a young man and went to Saco and then to California with The Argonauts of '49.

Had a natural business ability. Mr. Pierce was a nephew of the late Justice Charles of Fryeburg Center, who was a descendant of John Stevens who was one of the proprietors of the early settlers of The Seven Lots, a name Fryeburg went by for a long time.

San Francisco was no more than a mining camp when Pierce went there. This was in the early 1850's. He was in the bakery business and made good money. He was also involved with San Francisco's growth and development; water and street cars and lighting service, banking, railroading, and steamer service; land investments and many other utilities.

Henry always loved horses and became a breeder of the best blooded animals that ever came from the Pacific coast.

Had a ranch at Santa Rosa that was the largest in the state and it was devoted exclusively to horses. The Horse Review devoted a page to a description of the ranch and the spendid horses raised there. It was both a source of profit and pride to Henry.

He usually came East about September and stayed until Christmas. His farm was on Saddleback Mountain in Baldwin called "Saddleback Farm."

 

THE STEVENS MONUMENT

In Article 11, 1884--Original Records of the Town of Fryeburg--Voted to instruct the Selectmen to erect a public watering fountain on Main Street. Voted to a sum not exceeding $20.00 to carry the above vote into effect.

In The North Conway Reporter, March 6, 1902 an article appeared that Henry Pierce of California had offered to donate a fine fountain to be erected at the head of Portland Street where the small fountain now stands, to cost some $1500.00. The monument was given in memory of Mr. Piece's great grandfather, John Stevens, who spent a winter here in 1762 - 3. The water was turned on in the monument on November 5th, a great crowd gathered around the fountain to witness this historic event. The following poem was read:

Welcome, thrice welcome is they silvery gleam,
Thou long, imprisoned stream!
Welcome the tinkle of thy crystal beads
As splashing raindrops to the flowery meands.
As summer's breath to Fryeburg's whispering reeds!
From rock-walled channels, drowned in rayless night,
Leap forth to life and light;
Wake from the darkness of they troubled dream
And greet with answering smile the morning's beam.

The monument is made of white Hallowell granite, resting upon a base 7 to 8 feet square and 10 feet thick. On this base rests four larges pieces of granite, three bowls for animals and one with a faucet and cup for the people. The town removed the flag staffs, the electric light poles and the unsightly stone guide post which has stood in the corner from time immemorial so that the monument will command a clear and unobstructed view from all points of the compass.

In a newspaper article from Harry Eastman dated July 11, 1926, a portion of the article gave a reference to the monument that "at every town meeting an effort has been made to pass an order authorizing its removal. It was felt that if nobody living is interested in it and it commemorates no important event in the town's progress, it may well be dispensed with particularly as it interferes with the station assigned to a silent policeman. About the only ones who seem to want it are the farmers who still drive to town and water their horses in the basins.

Before 1927 3 students from Fryeburg Academy painted a picture on the monument. These students were Don McKeen, Guy Whitaker, and Bob Davis, so says Mid Heath, who would tend to know such things as this !!

In The Reporter, December 6, 1934, the monument was to be moved back 20 feet from its original site and the tablet was to face Main Street. The work of moving this was let by the Selectmen to a Conway firm. The work of changing the water pipes which supply the drinking fountain had already begun. The monument lended a note of dignity to the center of town but traffic was becoming an issue. In the days of horse drawn vehicles it was no menace and provided a convenient place for watering horses. Automobile traffic changed things and seems to cut off the vision of drivers from nearly all directions. Sentiment and lack of desire to spend the necessary money defeated the removal of the monument for several years, although it came in for more or less oratory pro and con each year at town meeting. Last March, (1933) to the surprise of many, the vote to move it and the necessary funds were forthcoming and it was to be moved. Contrary to the generally accepted idea, it was found unnecessary to move it from the square and it is was then planned to move it back into Portland Street a distance of about twenty feet. This would bring it into line with the fronts of the Main Street buildings and will give a clearance of 33 feet on either side of Portland Street. At the same time it will be turned around to bring the tablet explaining its meaning on the Main Street side. The cross walk would then be on the Main Street side of the monument and pedestrians can be seen by drivers entering Portland Street from either direction along Main Street. Drivers stopping at the stop sign before entering the arterial highway will then have a clear vision east and west along Main Street.

In 1960 the monument was sandblasted and repaired at the expense of the Business and Professional Women's Club of Fryeburg. Since 1954 it has been decorated summer and winter by that organization. Ernest Smith donated fresh plants after a member of the BPW weeded around it. The Fryeburg WE CARE Program urged everyone to respect the monument and to see that the ground around it is kept clean. This was not a negative suggestion about not throwing debris there; instead, it meant that gum or candy wrappings, bottles or wuch which are seen there. In other words, let it be everyone's job to keep this spot clean.

The monument was hit by a Merrill Transport truck on February 24, 1972 at 4:45 a.m. and badly damaged. Upon settlement by the insurance company a committee was appointed to have it repaired and placed back on its present location. The committee appointed by the Selectmen was Woodrow L. Palmer, Harry K. Eastman, Edith Russell, Harry Loyzelle and Edward Mills. It was decided to have the firm of Cook, Watkins and Patch of Barre, Vermont do the work under the able direction of Mr. Dave Reid a co- owner of the firm. The entire monument was hauled to Barre, Vermont, completely renovated and brought back and set on the original site. A new base had to be installed and a curbing was placed around it to help prevent further mishaps. The entire monument weighed 56,000 pounds or 28 ton.

In the 1974 Fryeburg Town Report, the following amounts of money was expended on the monument:

Paid:

Cook, Watskins & Patch Inc.
$13,721.00
R.K. Brown
$167.00
Woodrow L. Palmer
$69.80
Golden Rule Enterprises
$15.56
Trumbull's Hardware
$32.50
Charters & Zebliski
$168.00
Fryeburg Monumental Works
$41.65
Shaw's Gulf
$4.00
Hastings and Son
$645.00
Labor
$277.00
Total
$15,142.91
Received: Insurance Company
$15,000.00
Overdrawn
$ 142.00

 

The Merrill Transport truck was empty and was returning to Portland and jacknifed on icy streets. The driver was not hurt but the trailer was damaged.

 

PLAQUE INSCRIPTION

In Memory of
JOHN STEVENS,
An early settle in this town.
Who spent the winter here in 1762-3;
Erected by his great grandson,
Henry Pierce
of San Francisco, California
1902

Click Below For
A History of Veterans Honor Rolls in Fryeburg, Maine

 

 

 
 

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