Old West Church
Photograph courtesy of the Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce

  Interior of Old West Church, July 31st, 1955
Photograph courtesy of the Vermont Historical Society

Old West Church, an extremely well preserved meeting house, has served the community of Calais since 1825. Interestingly, the Old West Church is more typical of southern New England churches built half a century earlier, as it was modeled on late 18th-century meeting houses that Calais' settlers had attended in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The meeting house, serving both religious and secular functions, had no precedent in England, and was an early American building type.

In 1823 the town's settlers formed the First Meeting House Society of Calais to select a plan for a meeting house. Although it is unknown whose design was selected, all of the committee members were likely influenced by memories of their former meeting houses, erected in the late 1700s, which they had been long absent from. The construction of such a familiar building was an important step in the establishment of their community. The selected plan may have been designed by the moderator of this group, Caleb Curtiss, who had migrated from Salisbury, Connecticut. Curtiss family tradition holds that Caleb's plan drew upon his memory of the Salisbury Meeting House, and in many ways Old West Church is a simplified interpretation of that building.

The Old West Church is an excellent example of 18th-century New England meeting houses with its rectangular form, gable roof, frame construction, white clapboards, and simple three-tiered spire symbolizing its importance to the community. The three-sided balcony, arrangement of pews, and elevated pulpit of the church's interior were less hierarchical than traditional Christian churches of that time. Unique to Old West Church is the 19th-century blue paint used for various interior surfaces and the phrase "Remove Not The Ancient Landmark Which Thy Fathers Have Set" mounted above the pulpit in 1886. The church was originally owned by six denominations, the Baptists, Universalists, Congregationalists, Christians, Free Will Baptists, and Methodists. The building was also used for secular purposes such as community meetings and plays.

The Old West Church is in Calais on Old West Church Rd., .8 miles south of its intersection with Kent Hill Rd.

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