The Head Tide Church was dedicated on November 21, 1838. In the early 19th century, Head Tide was a bustling village within the Town of Alna, supported by mills at the dam, agriculture and apple orchards, boat building, fishing and forestry. As Head Tide grew in population, village leaders determined to build their own Congregational church so they would not have to travel the three miles to the 1789 Meeting House in Alna Center. They funded it by subscribing, or “buying”, family pews. Although the Head Tide Church is different in many respects from the “Old Meeting House”, one similarity, intended to remind people of their roots, is the trompe l’oeil window behind the pulpit that evokes the velvet-curtained window behind the pulpit in the Meeting House on 218.
Head Tide Church
For a while the church – and the community – flourished. But post Civil War urbanization and industrialization brought changes to all of New England, including Head Tide. Population decreases led to the closing of the church in the 1880’s. A group was assembled in the early 20th century to rescue the building from deterioration. In 1914 the cast-iron kerosene lamp chandelier was hung in the center of the unusual barrel-vaulted ceiling, six columns of the original front façade were replaced with simple carved pilasters, and the steeple with its rare Paul Revere bell was strengthened.
Yet the 1940’s saw continued declines in the use of the church. In 1955 a new group stepped in to address many years of neglect. They secured title and assumed responsibility for upkeep. Then in 1962, a near-disaster -- lightning struck the bell and set fire to the front façade, including the steeple, and half of the roof. The Paul Revere bell crashed to the ground in pieces. Once again, the community rolled up its sleeves and provided labor and funding to rebuild the church and steeple and to acquire a new bell.
Although Head Tide Church has not had an active year-round congregation for several decades, it still serves mid coast Maine as a unique venue for weddings, memorial services, lectures and musical events – and perhaps most importantly, as a perpetual and inspiring connection to our country’s earliest history. The Friends of the Head Tide Church raise funds and volunteer hundreds of hours to keep our “jewel on the hill” in good condition. We invite you to join us in protecting this historic treasure for future generations by considering a tax-deductible gift to the Friends of the Head Tide Church. Every gift, in any amount, will be directed toward restoration, painting, and repairing projects that must be carried out each year. For information on renting the church for an event, please contact Treasurer, Susan Russell, at 586-6788.