Our Mission:to give a voice to underground artists in rural Maine and to enable them to collaborate and present their works in a safe, welcoming environment.
When I first peered into the windows of Freewill on a hot summer's day, I saw a dark cool interior glowing green and purple from it's broken stained glass windows. A stage was lit by a single shaft of dusty light, and an upright piano sat with its lid lifted, as if beckoning me in to come and play its worn keys.
I imagined all the hands that must have touched that piano, all the shuffling feet that had worn those floorboards down. only the crows in the old gnarled maples remembered the songs that once poured out those welcoming doors.
There it had stood for the last 15+ years, empty and neglected, after serving as a place of worship, and later as Fernwood Grange, a refuge and meeting place for the hardworking people of the surrounding hills.
freewill baptist church 1837
I fell in love with Freewill right then and there, and vowed to help revive its roots of fostering a vibrant community; to resurrect a place to sing together, break bread together, share ideas, and unite in hardship.
After years of proposals, meetings and negotiations, years of rain and snow and howling wind, the building has come into our hands through the kindness of the New Portland Historical Society, with plans to turn it once more into a viable community space that will help preserve the unique artistic legacy of the people of rural Western Maine.
This beautiful building has weathered the storm, but not without a few scars. with your help, we can bring her back.
photo by bill duffy
We are a non-profit currently in the process of applying for grants, trying to get the building listed on the national historic register, and gathering materials for renovations, all while weatherproofing the building out of pocket until we can raise enough money to replace her roof, about a $20,000 project.
Due to the nature of these times, and the onslaught of covid-19, most of our fundraising efforts and community outreach programs have been put on hold. as for any fledgling non-profit, times are tough for receiving aid.
With your help, we can continue our vision of a community recording studio, farm to table soup kitchen, art gallery, Local Music venue, and safe meeting space: a place of refuge, A Shelter from the storm. Any amount helps, and from our community to yours, thank you.
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