The South Solon Meeting House was built in 1842 as a place for religious and community activities. The founders stipulated that “the house opened freely on weekdays, when requested, for conference meetings and for lectures and addresses on all religious, benevolent, moral and scientific subjects.” This founding spirit has continued to animate the South Solon Meeting House to the present day.
As in many other cases in rural Maine, the meeting House’s first incarnation as a church and community meeting place suffered disuse and deterioration. Beginning in the 1930’s, Helen and Williard Cummings of Skowhegan led a cooperative effort to restore this venerable building.
The Frescoes — 1952–56
What makes the Meeting House truly special and lifts it far above the level of ordinary historic preservation are its floor-to-ceiling frescoes, painted by contemporary artists. Here, contemporary artists have renewed and refreshed the Meeting House in a vital and meaningful way. The fresco project was sponsored by Mrs. Margaret Day Blake, a student at the nearby Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, who, inspired by the building and supported by the school, offered fellowships to young, professional artists to work on the Meeting House under the school’s supervision. Each participating artist was given the following guidance: “There shall be no limitation of subject matter; however, bearing in mind the religious character of the building, which has been non-sectarian from its inception, it’s suggested that the New and Old Testaments offer rich and suitable subject matter. This material should be interpreted in imaginative terms which allow complete freedom to develop symbols, associations, or legends.”
The South Solon Historial Society was incorporated in 1956 to care for and preserve the life and traditions of the Meeting House. Fifty years later, its present Board of Directors continues in this work.
While the Board seeks to further promote use of the building for cultural events and community life, the most pressing concern at this time is the need to repair the damage and deterioration wrought by the passage of time and weather, and create an endowment for future maintenance.
Restoration of the bell tower, reglazing of the windows, and repairs of the sills and the architectural woodwork are the most urgent priorities, with paint, clapboard replacement, foundation drainage and ventilation close behind.