Franklin County Courthouse

Also known as the Center Meeting House

 

The building, according the Farmington's History by F. G. Butler, was originally built by a society known as "The First Meeting-House Society" which incorporated in 1822.  The cost of construction was derived from the sale of pews in the amount of $4,670.  The structure was 65 feet long and 45 feet wide containing 64 pews on the floor, wall pews and a pulpit.  There were two porches - one of each end.  The building was used for worship for many years.  The Steeple was added on the south side in 1827, and at that time, the porches were eliminated.  Various denominations used this building for religious services until they built their own meeting houses.  Upon the organization of Franklin County in 1838, the proprietors released their interest in the upper story to the county, when it was remodeled for a court-room.  The lower portion was rented for a town-house until 1880, and in 1884 the proprietors sold what further rights they possessed in the building and the actual site to the county for $750.  

There is some speculation that this building was actually moved to another lot prior the 1886.  From an article in the Farmington Chronicle dated 1895, there's reference to a Mr. Cain of Lewiston moving a building in Rangeley, and he was the same party who moved the old Centre Meeting House from Maine to Pleasant Street, years ago in Farmington. The county had planned to build a newer, larger brick building on the same site, so this building was relocated to a lot that was adjacent to Pleasant Street, near the present Center Meeting House Park.

In October 1886, there was a major fire in the downtown area of Farmington.  It started in a house on Pleasant Street, and before it was extinguished, the fire consumed many buildings down Main Street; I believe the Center Meeting House was burned then.

 

Behind this Center Meeting House was one of Farmington's earliest cemeteries; that seemed to be typical for towns during their early settlement days.  The dead were buried close at hand.  Information found in the vault at the old town office in Farmington states that several rows of bodies were moved to other sites in town when the new (circa 1890) brick building was erected, its footprint being larger than the original center meeting house.  It is interesting to note that the granite wall remained, and is still in place today.

 

In the early days, the town meetings dealt with the problem of broken windows, and how the town would deal with offenders and replacing those broken windows, having to vote funds for repair and replacement of the windows.  Unfortunately, there was no record of how it was handled.  It appears "kids would be kids" no matter the era.