Moseying Over to Maine

For those of you wondering how it was that I came up with the agenda for our trip to New Hampshire and Maine, I based most of the trip on Yankee Magazine's article The Top 25 Foliage Towns in New England.  I figured that if anyone knew where the best spots to see foliage were, it would be Yankee Magazine - that most quintessential of New England publications!  Based on their article, I planned our route out with some of the Top 25 towns in mind.  Jackson, New Hampshire was listed as #12 while #7 was North Conway, the town we were leaving behind as we headed towards our next destination and #2 on the list - Bethel, Maine.

By the time we got out of North Conway due to a traffic jam caused by people attending calling hours at one of the local funeral homes (whoever it was that had died, was most definitely popular), it was starting to get dark and was raining like nobody's business - to quote my old Gram B!   After talking to a native New Hampshirian on the Notch Train, I decided that the best route of travel to get to Bethel was to take Route 16 north back through Jackson and past Mount Washington (which we couldn't see for love or money) and then take Route 2 east towards Bethel.  I suspect that under other conditions it would be a beautiful drive but alas, the only thing we saw was rain, rain, and more rain!  Oh, and some road construction - let's not forget that!

When we arrived in Bethel - which is only about 50 miles from North Conway - a little after 7:00, it looked like they had rolled the sidewalks up already!  Of course, it was a Wednesday, it was raining, and it was dark so I didn't really expect to see much as we found our stop for the night - The Chapman Inn located on the Bethel Common.   Before I get to my post on The Chapman Inn, I thought I'd tell you a bit about the town of Bethel itself and share some pictures that I took later on in our trip as I sure wasn't getting any pictures the night we got there!

Town of Bethel, MaineBethel's history begins way back in 1769 when the Massachusetts General Court granted the land to Josiah Richardson of Sudbury, Massachusetts and several others as thanks for their service at the Battle of Quebec in 1690. The land was first named Sudbury Canada after the original grantees from Sudbury as well as its close proximity to Canada - about an hour and a half to the north.

It wasn't until 1774 when Nathaniel Segar of Newton, Massachusetts started clearing the land - an endeavor that was interrupted when he took up arms to join the cause of the Revolutionary War. In 1779 Segar was finally able to return to take up his settlement and again begin to clear the land that was once an Abenaki Indian village located on the north side of the Androscoggin River. The Abenakis had abandoned the village following the English settlement but on August 3rd, 1781 the settlement was plundered during what was known as “New England’s Last Indian Raid”. There were only ten families residing in Sudbury Canada when Nathaniel Segar and Benjamin Clark, another of the original settlers, were abducted and held captive in Quebec until the end of the war at which time they were released unharmed to return to their settlement.

The Bethel Church of the NazareneFollowing the war and the release of the captives, the community grew rapidly and on June 10th, 1796 "Sudbury-Canada Plantation" was at long last incorporated and given the new name of “Bethel” which was taken from the Book of Genesis and means "House of God.”

The town experienced a growth spurt in 1802 when a trade road (now Route 26) was completed from Portland, Maine (about 70 miles south) to Errol, New Hampshire (about 37 miles north) bringing more settlers and businesses to the area. Bethel became known as one of the best farming towns in Maine, especially for hay and potatoes, and other manufacturers also were abundant.

In 1833 a large hotel was built known as the Bethel House which became a favorite destination of summer tourists looking to escape the heat and noise of the bigger cities - a spot that became even more popular when, on March 10th, 1851, the Atlantic and St. Lawrence Railroad started carrying freight and passengers to the area.

Gazebo & Fountain on the Bethel Green

As several large hotels were built near the tracks to accommodate the arriving tourists, Bethel became a fashionable summer resort during the years between the Civil War and World War I but that popularity declined once the automobile was invented and people no longer had to rely on train routes to get to where they were going. A lot of the hotels' former patrons soon went elsewhere and the big hotels were eventually torn down.

The Gould Academy, BethelJust down the road from the Bethel Common stands the Gould Academy which began educating students in 1835 when the school, known then as Bethel High School, first opened its doors for three terms. In 1836 the school re-opened as Bethel Academy but was eventually renamed the Gould Academy following the death of the Reverend Daniel Gould of Bethel. Reverend Gould, who had no children of his own, agreed to leave his entire estate to the Academy in return for it being named after him upon his death. When Reverend Gould died in 1843, the name was changed to Gould's Academy and eventually to Gould Academy.

All of Bethel's local high school-age children were educated at Gould until 1969 when it became a private boarding and day school after Telstar High School opened its doors to Bethel and the surrounding communities. Since that time, the Academy's curriculum has focused on the very highest standard of college preparation as a private co-ed boarding and day school with a population of 240 students from New England and around the globe. As an interesting note, the school offers skiing and snowboarding programs but it remains first and foremost a college-prep school.

In a nutshell, that pretty much sums up Bethel other than to say that it's a very popular spot for those who love to ski as it's located near the Sunday River Ski Resort and the Mt. Abram Ski Resort and it's really rather quaint in a small-town-Maine sort of way! For your viewing pleasure, here are a few more pictures of Bethel:

West Parish Congregational Church

The 1847 West Parish Congregational Church located across from Gould Academy and next to the Bethel Church of the Nazarene above. Two quintessential New England white clapboard churches right next to each other - how lucky could a photographer get??

New Hampshire and Maine 789
Bethel's historic 1869 Fire Bell located on the Common
Bethel Bell Plaque

I decided to try to do some night photography on our second night in Bethel, the following pictures are from that endeavor! 
Bethel Common Fountain
The fountain in the middle of the Bethel Common
Bethel Gazebo at Night
Gazebo on Bethel Green
The gazebo on the Bethel Common
Night view from the gazebo
Looking across the Common from the gazebo
The Bethel Inn & Resort
The Bethel Inn & Resort located on the Bethel Common which was obviously a spot where tour buses stopped:
Fountain & Bus
Nighttime in Bethel
This is located on the western side of the Common, I believe it's an old fountain of some sort that is now used as a planter.
Bethel Green
Bethel Fire Department
The Bethel Fire Department which is located just off of the Common and appears to have lots and lots of apparatus!
The Chapman Inn at night

And finally - TheChapman Inn where we spent two lovely nights.  By the way, have I mentioned that it's haunted?


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