View of the Meeting House with scaffolding when approaching Norlands. Ryan Burnham photo

LIVERMORE FALLS — When people travel north on Norlands Road, they are oftentimes surprised to see a steeple rise above the landscape on the rural road. It is where the past lives on in a setting virtually unchanged since the 1800s and a time when the Washburn family called the place home.

Those passing by now see the oldest building at Washburn-Norlands Living History Center encased in modern-day steel scaffolding.

Norlands, now a museum offering an authentic view of 19th-century life in rural Maine, has announced a full restoration of the meeting house steeple and bell tower has begun.

The restoration includes strengthening the framing with new posts, building and installing a new bell wheel and repairing or replacing the upper and lower railings, decorative lattice work, clapboards and other deteriorating woodwork. The flashing will be repaired where it meets the roof line. The entire steeple, from the roof line up, will be scraped, sanded, primed, caulked and painted.

When finished, it will be more structurally sound and weather tight. It will shine bright once again — harkening back 1828 when Israel Washburn Sr. and his neighbor, Otis Pray, raised money to build the church. The work is expected to be completed in October.

Norlands has been able to start the restoration, thanks to recent grant funding. The Maine Steeples Fund, a component fund of the Maine Community Foundation, awarded a $60,000 matching grant. Norlands is halfway to meeting the match. Earlier this year, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) donated $10,000 to the preservation project.

The grant funding was made possible through the sponsorship of Mary Dillingham-Burnt Meadow Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, based in Lewiston. To date, three individual donors have given a total of $25,000. The project will cost upward of $136,000. Norlands is seeking cash donations and gifts-in-kind to finish meeting the match and the expense of the project.

For more information about Norlands and the Steeple Preservation Project, contact Harry Simon, board of trustees president, at [email protected] Those interested in donating can do so securely online via Norlands’ website,, or by calling 207-897-4366.

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