11 Most Endangered Historic Places
Abyssinian Meeting House
Built in 1828, the Abyssinian Meeting House is a modest house of worship with great historic significance to the people in Maine. Constructed during a time when African Americans made up only two percent of the population in Portland, the Abyssinian Meeting House was a cornerstone of community life for African Americans. In the early years, the Meeting House served multiple functions, including a school for African-American children, a community center that was used for political gatherings, a social welfare agency and, most notably, a stop on the Underground Railroad.
“From the days when Frederick Douglas and William Lloyd Garrison preached about freedom and human rights, the Meeting House has been a spiritual center of life for generations of African Americans in Portland, Maine...”Stephanie Meeks
“The Abyssinian Meeting House tells an important story of resilience and progress for African Americans in Portland,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “From the days when Frederick Douglas and William Lloyd Garrison preached about freedom and human rights, the Meeting House has been a spiritual center of life for generations of African Americans in Portland, Maine, but it needs an influx of funding to keep that story alive for generations to come.”
Today, the Abyssinian stands in dire need of funding to ensure the Federal style building is restored. While work has already begun on the building’s restoration, lack of funding has stalled construction and the ultimate goal of creating an educational and community space.
The Abyssinian Meeting House was included on the Trust's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list for 2013.
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