Getting Liberty Hall ready for the 2023 Open House.


Artist, Michelle Hauser, hanging her photographic exhibition of Maine Civic Halls 

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 Liberty Hall Open Day July 29, 2023


The doors of Liberty Hall opened again – we enjoyed a wonderful second Open House!    


The Maine Civic Halls project was launched with a panel discussion, considering the next steps in mobilizing a network of support to restore Maine’s civic buildings and return them to public use. 


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As the Friends of Liberty Hall look forward to completing Phase 4 of the restoration project, we need your input.  Please let us know your ideas and suggestions for the building.  How can we make it yours?

Make your views known!

The Friends of Liberty Hall,

PO Box 22, Machiasport 04655

Liberty Hall Open Day.pdf

Liberty Hall is part of a network of community halls across Maine.   The effort to preserve and repurpose these historic buildings is rapidly gaining momentum.  It is driven by a commitment to making public spaces available again, offering places for people to meet throughout the year and providing facilities that can bring different generations and constituencies together.

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Liberty Hall Open Day 2022

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Liberty Hall Open Day 2022

Liberty Hall Open Day July 30, 2022


For the first time in 12 years, the doors of Liberty Hall were open!  


Over 100 people came to see the progress on the building.   Now that the exterior restoration is complete, visitors were able to admire the magnificent double staircase that sweeps from the entrance hall to the grand auditorium above – and begin to imagine the future of the building as a community resource. 


Hosted in collaboration with the Greenhorns, the Open Day featured costumes and regalia from the Odd Fellows Hall in Pembroke.  Additional exhibition materials and a slide show reminded visitors of Maine’s rich tradition of civic architecture and community halls.

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During March, under the supervision of Jeremy Whitehouse, RJ and Parker spent a week in freezing temperatures, working to demolish Liberty Hall’s old outhouse and repairing all the rear façade clapboards.   At this time, they also scraped, primed and prepared the back of the building for spring painting.    In May, RJ and Parker returned to Machiasport to install restored window trim and begin the process of painting.  The trim and clapboards on the rear façade will match the historic colors used elsewhere on the building’s exterior.  They are Benjamin Moore’s Cocoa Brown and Straw.



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 Liberty Hall Spring 2021


Thanks to very generous grants from Maine Community Foundation’s Belvedere Fund for Historic Preservation and the Davis Family Foundation, the Friends have finally been able to tackle the longstanding problems on Liberty Hall’s rear façade.  A shortage of funds during Phase 2 meant that the rotted clapboards and trim could not be repaired.   The completion of Phase 3, part 1 – the restoration of the 4 rear windows – was the first step toward the resolving the problems with moisture filtration on the back wall.

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Liberty Hall March 2021

Long Term Planning

In conjunction with the restoration work, the Friends have devoted their energies to wide-ranging consultation about the future use of the building compatible with its historic role as a social, cultural, economic resource for Washington County.  


From such discussions, a vision emerged for Liberty Hall as a Maker-Space-- a multi-use space for active, collaborative learning across different generations, constituencies and skill-sets. Key local partners – the Gates House Museum, Porter Memorial Library, University of Maine at Machias, Downeast Institute, Greenhorns, Machias Bay Chamber of Commerce – have shared in developing the plans.  


We will be expanding this partnership network to provide the foundation for future fundraising.


The Next Steps

Restoration of Liberty Hall’s rear façade remains a top priority.   With the window reinstallation in August 2019, Phase 3 part 1 of the ongoing restoration project is now complete.   Funds are currently being sought for Phase 3, part 2: 

  • structural repairs at base of facade
  • demolition of the current outhouse
  • construction of wooden staircase at back of building through the former outhouse
  • replacement rotted clapboards
  • sealing and painting
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Window Restoration Project

Work completed!

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Window Reinstallation August 2019

Reinstallation of restored sash window on upper floor.

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Window reinstallation, August 2019

Replicated window ready for installation.

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Installation of replicated window, replacing old fire exit.

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Window Restoration Project Summer 2019

In August 2019, Jeremy Whitehouse and Ed Pelotte returned to Liberty Hall to reinstall the three restored windows.  At the same time, they replaced the old fire exit door with a fabricated fourth sash that matches the original windows.

Window Restoration Project

Windows from the rear facade of Liberty Hall being restored by Ed Pelotte, ready for reinstallation in the summer of 2019

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Window Restoration Project



In the summer of 2018, the windows in the rear façade of Liberty Hall were removed for restoration.  Over the winter, Ed Pelotte of Winslow Glass and Restoration worked on the windows in his workshop in Winslow, Maine. 

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Jacobs Glass and Restoration Workshop

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Liberty Hall windows

Window Restoration Project 2018-2019

With the very generous support of the Fisher Foundation, the Davis Family Foundation and the Maine Community Foundation Belvedere Fund, the Friends have been able to begin the urgently needed repair work on the rear façade of Liberty Hall.


In August 2018, the three rear windows were removed from the building. Over the winter, they were expertly repaired and restored by Ed Pelotte at Jacobs Glass and Restoration in Winslow. At the same time, a fourth window was replicated to replace the old fire exit door from the theater level of the building.



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More grant success!


The Friends of Liberty Hall have been awarded $20,000 from the Maine Community Foundation's Belvedere Fund.   The funds will go toward the restoration of the rear facade of Liberty Hall.   In particular, the MCF grant will allow for the return and reinstallation of four rear windows next summer.


In August, Jeremy Whitehouse of Whitehouse Management and Construction Company supervised the removal of the existing windows from the back of Liberty Hall 

They have been taken to the workshop of Jacobs Glass and Restoration in Winslow.    Here they will be repaired and restored and a fourth window manufactured to go into the space on the second floor of Liberty Hall where there had previously be a fire exit.  


The very generous support provided by the Fisher Foundation, the Davis Family Foundation and the Maine Community Belvedere Fund enables the Friends of Liberty Hall to continue the important process of restoration.  The Friends remain committed to returning Liberty Hall to the community.  As we move forward, we remain grateful for the continuing support of the Town of Machiasport and Maine Historic Preservation Commission.

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Downeast Foxfire Camp at Liberty Hall

Photographs courtesy of Dylan Ladds

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Downeast Foxfire Camp at Liberty Hall

The Downeast Foxfire Camp led by Arista Holden and a group of 13 intrepid sailors, ages 17-mid 60s and hailing from Maine to Miami, Rhode Island to Indiana, inaugurated a new and exciting phase in the Liberty Hall restoration project.   Originating as a program of Greenhorns (greenhorns.org), the Camp began and ended in Liberty Hall.  For the first time in recent history, visitors were hosted overnight in the building.   


Over the course of a week in August, the camp community enjoyed the rare and special beauty of Machiasport and surrounding islands and bays.  Writing to the Friends of Liberty Hall after the conclusion of the highly successful Camp, Arista said: "how lucky we each felt for the privilege to live here for the week, including the opportunity to build a community, sail and row an 18th century human and wind powered boat, and crafting with birch bark and generally moving from camp to camp by the rhythm of the tides. We were able to deepen into a sense of place and connection to the land . . .  The Hall anchored the group and made for an easy start and easy end of the trip—-thanks for being so accommodating!"


The Friends of Liberty Hall look forward to welcoming Arista and the Downeast Foxfire Camp to Machiasport next summer.   Many thanks also go to Severine von Tscharner Fleming of Greenhorns, whose energy and initiative have re-invigorated historic preservation and community building in Downeast Maine.



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Halls Away Downeast

The Friends of Liberty Hall are partnering in a number of summer activities with the Greenhorns, a grassroots non-profit dedicated to promoting and supporting young farmers. Headed by Severine von Tcharner Fleming, the Greenhorns are currently restoring the historic Odd Fellows Hall in Pembroke.   


Liberty Hall is part of Halls Away Downeast, a two-day bus tour that offers a unique opportunity for visitors interested in historic preservation to see some of the most significant gems of Washington County.  Beginning in Ellsworth, the tour will include the Ruggles House, the Burnham Tavern, the Gates House, Liberty Hall, the Odd Fellows Hall, different sites in Eastport and an overnight stay at Tide Mill Farm.   


The tour, cost $350, is scheduled for July 21-22.     

For further information, visit http://greenhorns.org/events 


Grant Success

Grant success!    The Friends of Liberty Hall are very pleased to announce two grant awards.   In April, the Fisher Foundation awarded the Liberty Hall project $5000; and in June the Davis Family Foundation awarded the project $28,000.   The Friends are delighted and greatly appreciate this generous support.


The funds will go toward the repair and restoration of the rear or West Facade of Liberty Hall.  We expect Jeremy Whitehouse of Whitehouse Construction to begin work later this summer.  All work will be done under the supervision of historic preservation architect, John Turk of Resurgence Engineering and willbe carried out in according to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.

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Grant Success for Liberty Hall

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 Liberty Hall 2018


Liberty Hall: the next phase

The Liberty Hall project is on the move.  After several years of careful deliberation and discussion, the Friends are pleased to announce new plans for the building.   We have hired a new fundraiser, Debbie Smith and Rick Heller has taken on the position of Project Director.  Together with the Friends, they are working to articulate a vision for Liberty Hall and secure the necessary funds for the building's interior restoration.

John Turk (architect)  and Jeremy Whitehouse (construction manager), key players in the highly successful Phase 2 restoration, are actively drawing up plans for the next stages of work.

A top priority is the repair and restoration of the rear wall of Liberty Hall, usually known as the West Facade.  A lack of funds during Phase 2 and anticipated ADA adjustments meant this part of the building was not restored, but it now needs urgent intervention.  

A number of applications to funding bodies will be made in the early New Year for work on the West Facade.  

The Steps Take Shape

Despite the cold weather, progress is being made on Liberty Hall's new front steps.  

New Front Steps for Liberty Hall

The front steps of Liberty Hall are being replaced.  After many years of decline, both the concrete and wooden stairs to the front of the building had become unsafe.  With the generous help of the Town, a brand new set of steps will be soon be completed.

New Front Steps

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New Front Steps
Phase 3 Restoration grant award

The Friends of Liberty Hall have been awarded a $5,000 matching grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s grant program, the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns Preservation Fund. The prestigious award, one of only six made as a result of a national selection process, will be used toward design and architectural plans for restoration of the interior of Liberty Hall.  This grant is crucial to the new phase of fundraising that is intended to return the building to the community use. 

In announcing the award, National Trust Northeast Regional Office Director Wendy Nicholas said, "With these start-up dollars, Machiasport, Maine joins the hundreds of other communities across the country actively ensuring that America's architectural and cultural heritage is preserved."

Liberty Hall Summer 2010

Dedication ceremony at Liberty Hall

On August 6th, the Friends of Liberty Hall hosted a dedication ceremony to celebrate the completion of the exterior restoration and to formally name the magnificent belvedere in honor of Chip and Judy Knowlton.  In front of a gathering of almost fifty people – town officials, residents, donors and supporters and many of the key construction personnel responsible for the Phase Two restoration, David Freedberg, the President of the Friends thanked the Knowltons for their generous gift to the Town of Machiasport that ensured the return of Liberty Hall to its earlier glory.  Freedberg was joined by Suzanne McCurdy, great-grand daughter of the building’s architect, Andrew Gilson and Frank Foster, local historian – both of whom paid tribute to the collective endeavor and success of the project.  For additional pictures, see Gallery.


Courtesy of The Downeast Coastal Press

Chip Knowlton, courtesy of The Downeast Coastal Press
Grant for Liberty Hall

The Friends of Liberty Hall have received a $15,000 grant from Maine Community Foundation's Belvedere Fund.  On the advice of the project architect, John Turk, the award will be used to put storm windows on the building.  In Phase Two of the restoration, all Liberty Hall's original windows were repaired and repainted.  Storm windows will increase the longevity of these original windows and offer important protection to the building as a whole.  

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Liberty Hall Winter 2009

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