History

The original plans for this first meetinghouse in Buxton were made in 1739, but this place of worship was not completed until somewhere between October 1742 and April 1743 at Pleasant Point along the Saco River.

As the community grew, a larger building was needed. In 1766, a new building was raised on the present site of the church — a two-story building, unfinished inside. There were galleries on three sides, and the pastor preached from a raised pulpit with a sounding board overhead. It is said that the seats were hinged and that there was a sound like a clap of thunder whenever the whole congregation sat down.

The current meetinghouse was built in 1822, the day set for the raising of the timbers a gala event. But a crisis ensued — or, as one historian reported, “consternation seized the hearts of the people.” There was no rum to “stimulate and encourage the workers.” It was the custom of the time that those raising a meetinghouse would be provided with at least a barrel of rum.

Suddenly a great shout arose from the people, for coming around the corner with a 10-quart pail of rum was Pastor Levi Loring. He was the man of the hour, endearing himself to his people by “caring for their thirst as well as their souls.”

For 40 years, the Tory Hill Meetinghouse was the only church in town and the center of many town activities, including town meetings and graduations. At times, the First Congregational Church of Buxton has been yoked with the North Congregational Church of Buxton in Groveville, and with the Bar Mills Baptist Church. The congregation has been independent since 1995.

The Tory Hill Meetinghouse is the setting for a Kate Douglas Wiggin play called “The Old Peabody Pew,” which is performed on the first Sunday in December each year, beginning at 5 p.m. with a tree-lighting and carols. This year’s Old Peabody Pew will be the 150th performance of this play, which was written in 1916.