In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Bath's Historic Downtown

Church Block

Text by Colbie Holloway, Shelby Martel, Samantha Sprauge, and Caitlyn Ware
7th grade students at Bath Middle School
With images from the Patten Free Library

Universalist Church construction contract, Bath, 1839
Universalist Church construction contract, Bath, 1839

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

The Church Block is located at 44 to 50 Front Street in downtown Bath. The foundation of the Italianate style Church Block is made out of stone; the roof is a flat gable roof. The original building was built in 1863. It has a wooden bay window that was added in 1909, and the bricks that make up the outer facade are painted green, yellow, and tan. The Church Block is a three-story building. Details on the Church Block that are still there are women's faces cast into the iron columns.

Haley bill for Church Block, Bath, 1886
Haley bill for Church Block, Bath, 1886

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

It is called the Church Block because the building that was there before was the Universalist Church, which was built in 1839. The Church Block was built in 1863, right after the Universalist Church was torn down. When the Universalist Church was torn down, the Sagadahoc Club meetings were first held at the members houses, but eventually moved to a school. The Sagadahoc Club was a very prestigious men's club, and was first organized on December 3rd, 1888. The only way to get in was by invitation, and only the elite were admitted.

Front Street, Bath, ca. 1855
Front Street, Bath, ca. 1855

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

The key people that have a connection to this property are Oliver Moses, William Moses, and Francis Fassett. Oliver Moses owned a lot of real estate property and financed the buildings. He also ran a tinsmith shop, a store that sold metal goods, and an iron foundry that later became Bath Iron Works. Oliver Moses was renowned for his character. Acting quickly during the the Know-Nothing Riots of 1854, Moses walked into the angry mob to stop the destruction of a Catholic family's home. With his brother, William Moses, they both became wealthy business men who financed: the Bank Block, The Lincoln Block, and the Columbian Block, in addition to the Church Block. Their partnership with Francis Fassett produced much of downtown Bath. Francis Fassett, a Bath native born in 1823, died in Portland in 1908. Fassett who was the architect for the Church Block, also designed the Courthouse , the Hyde Block(Bath Savings), and the Lincoln Block, right next to the Church Block, in addition to many residences and some churches in town.

Lorena and Carrie Dunton, Bath, ca. 1890
Lorena and Carrie Dunton, Bath, ca. 1890

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

Additionally, when the Universalist Church was built in 1839, and torn down before 1863, it had an angel weather vane that was rumored to come to life and speak to people. It was said that it had told them about the Universalist Church. The builders had the angel moved to the Old North Church so it would not be destroyed. Also the builders had the angel's red boots turned to stockings. Oliver and William V. Moses bought the church's lot and arranged the demolition of the Universalist Church before 1863 to make room for the construction for the current Church Block. Oliver Moses arranged for construction of a new church on Washington Street. Anthony Coombs Raymond was the master builder for the Universalist Church. He also designed the Winter Street Church on Washington Street in Bath, five years later, and they looked a lot alike. The contract specified that Raymond use some of his teacher, Samuel Melcher's ideas. Only a single hand colored photograph remains to document the Universalist Church.
Oliver Moses rented the upstairs of the Church Block to a photographer named Augustus Hatch, who owned a Printing Company. Augustus Hatch had a skylight built into the ceiling of the building so that he could take pictures with more natural light. A typical picture, like the Hatch portrait of the little girls, was elaborately printed in gilded letters that advertised his good taste, location, and practical skills.

Front Street, From Post Office Square, Bath. ca. 1930
Front Street, From Post Office Square, Bath. ca. 1930

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

At midnight on December 12, 1954, the City of Bath converted to dial telephones. It was the first major change since 1906. The change took place at New England Telephone & Telegraph Company. H.H Fisher was the manager of the business when the change commenced. The New England Telephone & Telegraph Company was located at the Church Block for many years. Dr. Edwin Fuller Senior's offices were at the Church Block in the 19th Century. The Church Block currently houses a printing company. The current owners of the printing company are Eric and Pamela Allen. Previously, Russell J. Hatch owned the Printing Company from 1983 to 1991.

The current Church Block
The current Church Block