Maine is famous for many things—blueberries, moose, and chowdah! There is something else, however, that is a great must-see for anyone visiting the pine tree state. The South Solon meeting house frescoes! I had the chance to visit the community meeting house and see for myself the beautiful artworks covering the walls and the ceiling. I had heard this place was spectacular, and it surely didn’t disappoint.
Getting there and accessibility:
The drive from our Airbnb home was easy and very scenic. Because the old community center is in rural Maine, you’ll go through green fields and watch farms roll by. The meeting house even has its own road, Meeting House road. I thought that was a fun little treat, so my mom made sure to snap a picture. Along the way, we got to take in some beautiful fall foliage.
When we arrived, we found the place’s lawn empty, and we were worried it might not be open. Luckily, their doors are unlocked all day for anyone to come and visit. You’ll just want to double-check their website before going because sometimes the meeting house is reserved for events.
The meeting house was small, but it looked new on the outside with fresh, glistening white paint. It did look a little spooky, but I think that was because it felt a little odd to be exploring an empty building. There is a stone path leading up to one door, and a grass yard surrounds the building. The grass is a little deep, so those with wheels will want to be careful. Because the stone path is uneven, make sure someone is with you to help!
Getting inside the meeting house was the trickiest part. There are no ramps, and one of the two steps was a bit uneven, while the other was high, leading into a narrow doorway. I would suggest going with someone else, because you may need help with a lift, depending on your skill with your wheels or ability to transfer. It’s best to say that the meeting house isn’t accessible, however, the frescoes certainly make up for it!
The South Solon meeting house opened its doors in 1842 as a public space and community center. In the 1950s, 13 contemporary artists from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture came to work on the frescoes as part of a community-building project. The project took 4 years to complete, running from 1952 to 1956, and the frescoes are the center of attention when people visit. Not only has the art made the small, plain building look more lively, but it’s given it even more value and appreciation. It was after the frescoes were added that this meeting house was added to the National Historic Register!
I was so excited to see the different murals. All of them depict Biblical events of the Old and New Testament, such as Jesus Christ at the Last Supper. Each of these works of art was stunning. If you look up close, you can see the marks and subtle carving into the plaster as well! There were many details in all the paintings that could be easy to miss. The masterfully constructed pieces will certainly be fresco in my mind!
If you enjoy art, this is a place you won’t want to miss you’re in Maine. I personally love how the simplistic design of the meeting house from the outside can mislead you, this adds to the awe you feel when you step inside. A treasure room of paint! While the building comes with disadvantages, such as no easy way to get in with wheels, once past that you can relax and take in the massive yet intricate murals.