We chose that almost perfect day – the cloudless sky was a cerulean blue, a light breeze wafted through the flower-scented air – to take a drive to the Pownalborough Court House in Dresden, Maine. The Courthouse, the only pre-Revolutionary War courthouse left in Maine, is located off Route 128, on the banks of the KennebecRiver.
A long gravel driveway leads to the classic New-England-style courthouse. The setting is impressively regal as the white courthouse sets amid green lawns and nearby gardens, with the blue KennebecRiver in the background. the left of the Courthouse are replicas of stocks and a whipping pole that figured prominently in punishment of that era – public embarrassment. A short walk to the left on a gravel driveway is a cemetery where soldiers from the Revolutionary, 1812 and Civil Wars rest, their graves marked by American flags.
The Pownalborough Courthouse was built in 1761 from a design by Gershom Flagg, a Boston architect. The peaceful, pastoral setting today belies the bustle surrounding the courthouse in past centuries as it also served as a tavern, a church, a post office and all-around gathering place for the young town of Dresden in LincolnCounty.
The Courthouse has an illustrious history, having been visited by John Adams, John Hancock and Benedict Arnold. One particularly notable trial became the basis of The Midwife’s Tale, by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, based on the diary of local resident Martha Ballard.
The Courthouse today is a museum of colonial life and has been very well preserved by the Lincoln County Historical Association. Unfortunately, we visited just before the Courthouse opened for public tours during the summer season. The pictures I have seen and the descriptions I have read have piqued my interest and I plan to return to tour the museum later this summer.
When my partner and I travel around the state, we often take side jaunts from our proscribed route. On our way to Dresden, we turned off on a gravel road that looked interesting. The road wound through forested areas that seemed to be perfect habitat for ladyslippers. We began scrutinizing the sides of the roadway and eventually spotted two areas of delicate pink ladyslippers, members of the orchid family. These flowers are becoming rare and generally considered to be endangered. Spotting an animal, bird or flower on a side jaunt makes that day special to us and what I consider to be “cool.”
On this day, we opted for an ice cream treat and visited one of our favorite ice cream parlors, the Witch Spring Hill ice cream shop at 60 State Road, WestBath. This immaculately manicured stand has been at this location, serving renowned Round Top (from Damariscotta) ice cream for about five years. In addition to ice cream, they offer hotdogs with a variety of toppings, pizza, and “yum” ice cream cakes. There are outside seating areas and a play area for the kids. On a hot, humid summer day, there is nothing like their orange sherbet!
Directions to Pownalborough Courthouse – it’s on Route 128 in Dresden. We travelled on Route 1, and turned onto Route 127 in Woolwich and then turned left onto Route 128 to the Courthouse, about 12/13 miles from Route 1.
NOTE: The drive from Route 1 to the Courthouse was extremely scenic, passing through an area of older homes in the Day’s Ferry area. If you travel on this route, be sure to enjoy the territory you are passing through.