Burnham Tavern, Machias, Maine (2)

Another view of the Burnham Tavern, taken on June 17, 1937. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey Collection.

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The building in 2015:

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This view shows the rear of Burnham, which as explained in the previous post was built in 1770 and played a role in the planning of the Battle of Machias, one of the first naval battles of the American Revolution.  Today, the building is well-preserved, and is maintained by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution as a museum, complete with period furnishings on the interior.  The first photo shows its appearance when it was documented for the Historic American Buildings Survey in 1937, and its exterior is virtually unchanged in the nearly 80 years since.  The only noticeable difference is the use of painted shingles instead of clapboards; this is actually in keeping with 18th century customs of putting clapboard on the front and shingles on the sides and back.

Burnham Tavern, Machias, Maine (1)

Burnham Tavern in Machias, seen on June 17, 1937. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey Collection.

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The building in 2015:

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This building is so old that it was built in a different state.  Maine was part of Massachusetts until 1820, and this tavern not only predates Maine statehood, but it also predates the American Revolution by several years.  Despite its remote location on the extreme eastern edge of the United States, it played a role early on in the Revolution, and it remains preserved as a historic landmark over 240 years later.

Burnham Tavern was built in 1770, just seven years after the area was first settled by English colonists.  Five years later, the American Revolution started, and the tavern was used to plan what became the second naval battle of the war.  In June 1775, a group of local militiamen led by Jeremiah O’Brien and Benjamin Foster captured the British schooner HMS Margaretta.  The Margaretta was renamed the Machias Liberty, and in August it and another captured vessel were commissioned as the first two ships in the Massachusetts navy.

In part because of its proximity to the British colonies in present-day Canada, Machias became a base of operations for privateers who captured British merchant vessels during the war.  In response, the British launched an attack in August 1777, with an invasion force of 123 marines and four of the most harmless-sounding ships in naval history: the HMS Rainbow, HMS Blonde, HMS Mermaid, and HMS Hope.  Undeterred by such intimidating ship names, local militiamen and Native American allies drove off the ships, and Machias survived the war without any additional attacks.

The building’s historic significance was already understood by the time the 1937 photo was taken, when it was documented for the Historic American Buildings Survey.  Not much has changed since then, down to the sign hanging on the right side of the building.  It retains much of its 18th century appearance, both on the outside and on the inside, and it is operated as a museum by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Holy Name Catholic Church, Machias, Maine

The Holy Name Catholic Church in Machias, around 1904. Image from Narrative of the Town of Machias (1904).

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The church in 2015:

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Machias was first settled by English colonists in the 1700s, and although they established a Protestant church relatively quickly, it took some time before there were enough Catholics to sustain a church here. Traveling priests would often visit Machias in the early 1800s, but it wasn’t until 1845 that the town had its own Catholic church.

The original church burned down in 1875, but it was soon rebuilt and is still standing today.  Compared to the town’s Congregational church, this one is relatively simple on the exterior.  It wasn’t originally built with a steeple, but one was later added to the right, as seen in the 2015 photo. Otherwise, it looks essentially the same as it did when the first photo was taken over 100 years ago.

Centre Street Congregational Church, Machias, Maine

The Centre Street Church in Machias, around 1904. Image from Narrative of the Town of Machias (1904).

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The church in 2015:

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The town of Machias is one of the easternmost places in the United States, so this remote fishing village seems like a strange place to have one of the state’s few examples of early 19th century Gothic Revival architecture.  The Centre Street Congregational Church has stood here overlooking the town since it was completed in 1837, and it was built based on designs by Richard Upjohn, a British-born architect who designed Gothic Revival churches throughout the United States.  Upjohn is better known for works such as Trinity Church at the corner of Broadway and Wall Street in New York, the Church of the Covenant in Boston, and the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, but this church in Machias predates all of those.

Since its completion nearly 180 years ago, the church has been remarkably well-preserved.  The only major exterior changes have been a clock in the tower, which was added in 1870, and stained glass windows, which were added in 1899, a few years before the first photo was taken.  The church even has its original bell, which was purchased used in Boston and originally came from Paul Revere’s foundry.  Today, the historic building is still a major focal point in the town, and the 2015 photo shows the setup for the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival, a town-wide festival that is sponsored by the church.