In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Bath's Historic Downtown

Ledyard Block

Text by Nathanial Barter, Devyn Pushard, and Sheridan Valure
7th grade students at Bath Middle School
With images from the Patten Free Library

The Ledyard Block, 34-38 Centre Street, on the southeast corner of Centre and Water Streets in Bath, Maine, was built by William Ledyard in 1856. The Ledyard Block is a brick building that combined elements of the Greek Revival and Italianate styles of architecture. It is a large three-story brick edifice. The building has a gambrel roof with several corners and dentils. According to an article in the Bath Daily Tribune in 1856, one-third of Centre and Water Streets, in front of the building, had to be shut down in order to keep the construction equipment nearby. The permission to shut down the streets was passed by the city. The owner at the time, William Ledyard, had to buy another property to hold the supplies and equipment for the building.

The building was interesting for a variety of reasons. It was a meeting place, a business center, and a home to many. It has a colorful history, with fires, Freemasonry, and several businesses. Over the course of the 153 years that the building has been standing, there have been many good days and several bad ones.

1806 Deed: William King to Ledyard and Palmer
1806 Deed: William King to Ledyard and Palmer

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

A small, wooden building was torn down to make room for the Ledyard Block. That building, which housed the grocery store of William Ledyard on property that may have been sold to William Ledyard and Asa Palmer by William King, earlier in the century. To the south, at Union Wharf, King sold property to William Ledyard and Asa Palmer for $300 in 1806. Later, part of the property was sold by Asa Palmer to his daughter, Mercy, J.C. Ledyard's wife, on their wedding day.

J.C.Ledyard
J.C.Ledyard

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

People that are connected to the Ledyard Block are William Ledyard, James C. Ledyard, and Alfred D. Stetson. To begin, William Ledyard was important because he was the one who had the Ledyard Block built. Before he had the Ledyard Block built, he had a dry goods store on the same lot. William Ledyard was married to Miss Harriet Ledyard. They had a son named James C. Ledyard, who owned the building after William passed away. James C. Ledyard was also an important figure in Bath history, but not just because of his link to the Ledyard Block. He was the one who purchased the property that the Bath Fire Department was built on, which housed the #8 truck and the City of Bath water tanks. James C. Ledyard was also personally asked by Mr. Morse to buy the property that Morse High School was built on. James C. Ledyard's most important contribution was being elected mayor. He won the election with a unanimous vote. After his time as mayor, he served in both branches of the city's government.

1809 Deed, Asa Palmer to Mercy Ledyard, Bath
1809 Deed, Asa Palmer to Mercy Ledyard, Bath

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

Alfred D. Stetson also had an important connection to the Ledyard Block. He opened a furniture store with his son and the income from the rent of the building helped the Ledyard family with their taxes. The store, A.D. Stetson & Son, was housed in the Ledyard Block for a long time. The business was there from 1899-1959 and possibly longer. The business was passed down through the Stetson family. The store occupied the entire first floor of the Ledyard Block with some storage on the second floor. Profits from the store provided the most income for the Ledyard Family. Another image on the Maine Memory Network is one of the A.D. Stetson & Son billboard that was painted onto the side of the Ledyard Block which told the company name on that side and advertised furnaces. On the other side of the building, above a current parking lot, there is also an advertisement for a cheese company.

Masonic Parade, Bath, ca. 1925
Masonic Parade, Bath, ca. 1925

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

In addition to the businesses that occupied the Ledyard Block, the Masons, also known as the Freemasons of Bath, held their meetings on the third floor of the Ledyard Block from 1907-1926. James C. Ledyard was a Mason himself, which may be why the Masons held their meetings at the Ledyard Block. There is a certificate of J. C. Ledyard's joining the Masons. The Masons are dedicated to the ideals of charity, morality, equality, service to God, and charitable projects such as hospitals, orphanages, and aid for people in distress. To become a member of the Masons, a man must have been at least 21 years old and had lived in the vicinity of a Masonic lodge for one year. A member had to have been sponsored by a Mason and invited into membership. In 1926, the Masons moved from the Masonic Hall in the Ledyard Block to the new Masonic Temple at 788 Washington Street. An image is on the Maine Memory Network of the Masons in a parade down a street in Bath.

Masonic trunk, open
Masonic trunk, open

Item Contributed by
Patten Free Library

On the subject of events, there was an extensive fire in 1894. The fire damaged twenty-one properties before it finally died out. The damages to the city totaled more than $200,000 dollars for all of the properties involved. The blaze started at the Sagadahock Livery Stable where a careless person left a flame near the hay. The fire was across the street from the Ledyard Block.

During and after A.D. Stetson + Son Furniture was in the Ledyard Block, there were other businesses. Earlier in the nineteenth century, James C. Ledyard had a furniture store in the Ledyard Block, in the late 1860's he had his real estate office in the building until 1891 and a men's clothing store from 1892-1907. Then came the Shelter Institute and Woodbutcher tools from 1991-1999 and the Bath Amusement Center from 1967-1971, and many people lived there as well. There was a Miss Jean L Baker from 1991-1999, and Mr. Pat Hennin, who owned Wood Butcher tools from 1991-1999, and a Century 21 real estate business in 1999. Currently on the Ledyard Block there is the Bath Natural Market and an Irish pub. The Bath Natural Market specializes in natural foods, wines and natural medicines. The Irish Pub is a restaurant.

In conclusion, the building on 34-38 Centre Street still stands today, 153 years after it was built. The block always has, and still does, house important businesses. The Ledyard Block has had many people living and working there. As a result of these things, the Ledyard Block is important to Bath History.