Thanks to a grant from the Maine Community Foundation, a historic Whitefield building will be heated more efficiently when cold weather strikes. Judy Maldovan, president and treasurer of the Kings Mills Union Hall Association, recently learned the group would be receiving $3,200. The grant will be used to replace an existing furnace and ductwork with two propane heaters to improve heating efficiency, safety, and public use of the building without detracting from its historic character or architectural integrity.
The hall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Since the late 1980s, community volunteers have dedicated time, labor, and resources through fundraising to repairing and restoring the 1901 structure. Those efforts include a foundation, a new metal roof, replaced and repainted exterior clapboard siding, and a replica of the original wooden door and sign over the entrance.
Future goals are to create an emergency exit in the back of the hall, a project that will become possible with the removal of the existing oil furnace; to devise a septic system and update the restroom facilities; and to restore utilization of the upstairs, where public dances and village school concerts and plays were an important part of community life in the 20th century.
From its inception nearly 120 years ago as the Whitefield Fish and Game Club and Whitefield Grange, the hall has been a community center, and remains a striking feature of the town’s rural landscape. The present association, established in 2007 as a more broadly based, nonprofit community organization with new bylaws, evolved as the former joint owners disbanded. The Kings Mills Union Hall Association’s mission is to assure the hall continues its traditional role as a gathering place through regular public suppers, the 4th of July white elephant sale, an annual craft fair, and a Christmas party and tree lighting, as well as rentals by outside groups.
The association applied last winter to the Belvedere Historic Preservation & Energy Efficient Grant Program administered by the Maine Community Foundation, located in Ellsworth. The foundation connects with donors and other partners to build strong communities and improve Maine’s quality of life. More information can be found at mainecf.org.