“OLD” ST. PATRICK’S
Originally built by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland and serving as the original St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, the “congregation without a home” that was St. Patrick’s acquired this church in 1973. It sat in what is now the parking lot, and our address was “North Main Street”. Next door (to the East, and visible in the photo) was a building that was originally a maternity hospital and later became a nursing home, which closed in the early 1980s. St. Patrick’s, in a true “leap of faith”, purchased that property when the nursing home closed, originally planning to convert the home into a parish hall and education facility. The building, however, was discovered to be in much worse condition than originally believed; and it was torn down to make room for a basement.
St. Pat’s – A Church “On the Move”!
With front vestibule and old rear stairs removed, the church building sits on piers awaiting the move East to the new basement. The parish hall, previously referred to as “The Common Room”, occupied the front (Holyoke Street) part of the building, and contained a very small kitchen area. The old rear stairs led from the sacristy to the only “comfort facility” in the building (it couldn’t really even have been called a “bathroom” – maybe a “half-bath”), located in the partial basement that extended from the rear forward, only about 12 feet (4 meters). “People of lesser stature” found it easier to use than most, and no one was sad to “see it go”.
The church was towed across steel beams (by a 4WD pickup!) onto the new basement. The original site was leveled to become our new and first-ever parking lot. A new “front” entry was constructed, the original vestibule was replaced with stairs and a ramp, and in the basement…
The Shamrock Room (undercroft) is born! We finally had and continue to enjoy our wonderful “function area” with a real kitchen, two (“count ’em”) restrooms downstairs and one “up”, a “stair chair” for those who have difficulty negotiating stairways, and a drive-up door on the lower side for pedestrians and “freight”. Among its many uses, the Undercroft is the “home” of our Tea/Coffee Hours, receptions, the Brewer Ecumenical Food Cupboard, many Diocesan meetings, and a variety of local-use functions by other organizations.
An Oral History of St. Patrick’s
Written in 1975 for the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the parish
Do You Remember When…
Do You Remember When we started at the Brewer Auditorium with our altar in a locked box, 59¢ cruets, and borrowed vessels? The altar had to be set up and taken down each week. We would come into the building after they had had a dance the night before dodging beer bottles in the parking lot and doorway. We used rug samples for kneelers and sat in folding chairs watching Father Ralph [Durgin] teetering on the edge of the platform during the sermon.
Do You Remember When Mona and David were baptized at the Auditorium? Our first baptism. Also our first Confirmation included Mona and Rick and Peggy and Lloyd.
Do You Remember When during our first year, the Brewer Ecumenical services were held on Thursday night? This was the same night we held services in various homes. Everyone attended both. At one of these services we practiced Hymn 268 as we marched around the funeral home. Do you remember Bob Lakey’s amazement when the casket disappeared and everyone had to stop marching because they were laughing so hard?
Do You Remember those Seder Suppers put on by Father Ralph? He made the best of what he could find around town. Even going to Hampden for the parsley.
Speaking of suppers… How about the spaghetti one held here in our new home? We had no stove so we used several Coleman ones. Another one to remember is our first Advent-Wreath-making supper. We fed 125 from a chowder that was made to feed 75. Anne kept adding milk (about 2 gallons), and we had to borrow dishes and silver from Edie, who went hurriedly home for them.
Do You Remember When we had our services in the Vestry Room at the First Congo Church at 5 p.m. Saturday nights? We still had the altar in a box and still used the same rug samples for kneelers. During all this we had our coffee hour after the Eucharist.
Do You Remember When we were given Canterbury Chapel and the contents therein? We even thought of floating it down the river. Once again we felt the presence of our Lord and the opportunity to buy this building came up. What a place for our church! No one will forget, especially Haddie and Marion, scrubbing the walls, replacing tiles, the painting and becoming very close to one another. Finally, it came time to move the furniture–pews, altar and altar rail, organ and bell all in a U-Haul truck. Of course behind all this stood Father Ralph and Dick Fitzgerald organizing work parties and then having a meeting to go to when the work parties were held.
Do You Remember everyone doing their thing? Insulating the attic, installing a new furnace, Marilyn Fogg antiquing the wainscoting, Rick and Mona roofing the present sacristy in the dead of the night while David was asleep on the back seat of the car. They also spent hours constructing the kneelers for our pews and covering them.
Do You Remember When the bathroom in the basement was our only one? What fun it was to take the Sunday School children around and under. The fun came while the service was going on. It’s right under here!
Do You Remember When the building was black?! Someone suggested now that we had the new white siding, we needed to replace our plastic covered storm windows with combos. Everyone bought one or two. We ended up with an extra and no window to install it on.
Do You Remember the Bishop’s Committee meeting when the transient family showed up needing shelter for the night and everyone went home for blankets, cots, and food?
Do You Remember our old kitchen area? When we moved it across the room, when we took the old choir loft out and after we received all the nice counters and the stove from the nuns, we put it there.…
Do You Remember the Sink?!!! We all have “broken backs” from washing dishes in that!
Do You Remember When the nursing home was operating and the laity did the services each Sunday after ours? Florence, Rick, Phil, Fran and many, many others conducted morning prayers while Marion and Millie played the piano.
Do You Remember When Father Ralph had a vacation? Rick said Morning Prayer and forgot the time when the sermon was due. Florence gave it at the end of the recessional hymn.
How about the St. Patrick’s parties held at the V.F.W. Hall, Footman’s (with all that cleaning), and the Labor Temple? The green beer, the green champagne punch and all the suppers. But especially the world famous St. Patrick’s Players. And last, but not least of the entertainment, Harry Miller’s BOX.
Do You Remember When Irene and Florence passed the presidency of the Women’s group back and forth for several years?
How about the Youth Group? Sylvia, Millie, Connie, Jerry, Steve and Nadine all taking leadership and especially Father Ralph, the biggest kid of all, climbing Chick Hill, and even though it was early in the season and because they were hot, all went swimming with their clothes on. Remember the Halloween Haunted House they had in the basement?
Now remember more recently tearing down the nursing home. Several Saturdays with kids helping, the dust masks and the Truck Away containers we filled. Best of all, the seafood chowder Stan and Peggy provided for their lunch after a hard morning’s work.
We all hope that in ten years at the 20th Anniversary Celebration, these “Remember When’s” will include the fun working together to build our parish hall and all the nice things we would like for St. Patrick’s. We have had a lot of faith, lots of tears, a lot of hard work, a lot of fun, and most of all, a lot of enthusiasm over the last ten years. Not one of us would ever change a minute of the experience.
These certainly are cherished memories, and we have a beautiful church!