Parsonsfield Seminary

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Parsonsfield Seminary
Parsonsfield Seminary is located in Maine
Parsonsfield Seminary
Location Parsonsfield, Maine
Coordinates 43°45′46″N 70°56′20″W / 43.76278°N 70.93889°W / 43.76278; -70.93889Coordinates: 43°45′46″N 70°56′20″W / 43.76278°N 70.93889°W / 43.76278; -70.93889
Built 1857
Architect Unknown
Architectural style Italianate
Governing body Friends of the Parsonsfield Seminary
NRHP Reference # 86001339[1]
Added to NRHP June 20, 1986

Parsonsfield Seminary, which operated from 1832-1949, was a well-known Free Will Baptist school in North Parsonsfield, Maine, in the United States. Also known as the North Parsonsfield Seminary, its preserved campus of four buildings is located on State Route 160 near the New Hampshire border. The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Free Will Baptists developed as a movement in the late eighteenth century in New Hampshire. In 1832 Rev. John Buzzell and several other Free Baptists founded the school in Parsonsfield. The Seminary, at the level of a high school, was the first Free Will Baptist school in the United States and attracted 140 students, both boys and girls, in its first year. The seminary's first principal, Hosea Quimby, was active in many other Free Will Baptist organizations.

The Seminary staff and students became deeply involved with the abolitionist movement and operated as a stop on the Underground Railroad in the 1840s, while Oren B. Cheney was principal. Students and supporters aided fugitive slaves from the South in reaching freedom in Canada.

From 1840 to 1842, the Free Baptist Biblical School, the first Free Baptist graduate school for training ministers, was located at the seminary (it was later renamed Cobb Divinity School and became part of Bates College).

Seminary Hall in c. 1915

Parsonsfield Seminary burned mysteriously in 1854, allegedly from arson by opponents of abolition. Afterward, Oren Cheney founded Bates College (the Maine State Seminary) in Lewiston in 1855 to replace it with a larger Free Baptist school more centrally located in Maine.

In 1857 a smaller seminary building was rebuilt at Parsonsfield. It had a cupola and weathervane. In 1889, Bartlett Doe, a wealthy San Francisco businessman who was a Parsonsfield native son, donated funds to repair and remodel Seminary Hall, adding its rear wing and front bell tower. His gift provided for the construction of a new dormitory, to which a large annex was added in 1896. He also established a school endowment of $100,000.

Parsonsfield Seminary closed in 1949. The facility was subsequently used by the Consolidated School District until 1986, at which time the school offices moved to new quarters. The Seminary and grounds were listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To prevent loss of the historic hilltop campus, the Friends of the Parsonsfield Seminary organized to preserve and maintain the property. The non-profit, non-sectarian organization operates the handsome Victorian buildings and grounds for use for weddings, conferences, seminars and graduations.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]

References and external links[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.