by Mr. John R. Haug
The following is a history of the chapel as I understand it, much of it being based on hearsay and personal memory from nearly 80 years of attendance at the chapel.
In the summer of 1908, my Aunt Amy Katherine Brook was married in the living room of our cottage on Bailey Island which had been built in 1905. The wedding was held in the middle of the day so that an Episcopal priest from Portland and General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (a family friend) could come down on the steamer from Portland in the morning and return on the afternoon steamer.
Subsequently a group of summer cottage owners including my great aunt, Amy E. Blanchard, and Ida Waugh, who owned adjacent houses, organized the building of a summer chapel that was completed in 1916.
My earliest memory of the services at the chapel date back to the mid-1920s. At that time there was an 8 a.m. Holy Communion service and a 10 a.m. Morning Prayer service. There were held during July and August including Labor Day weekend.
The original chapel was a square bungalow, but in the 1920s the congregation had increased to the point that an addition of a chancel and sanctuary was built. I remember people sitting on chairs out on the front porch.
It was usual for one priest during the services in July and another in August. For many years the Rev. William Porter Niles from Nashua, New Hampshire was one of these and Canon Pressey from Portland was also a long-time officiant at the chapel.
Although a bridge was built from Bailey and Orrs Islands in 1928, the condition of the dirt road to Brunswick was such that most summer residents and visitors arrived by steamer from Portland. Consequently the congregation was largely comprised of those staying within walking distance of either their own cottages or one of the half-dozen summer boarding houses. This was true until after World War II when the road to Brunswick was paved and traffic with Brunswick greatly increased. In the early 1950s the steamers stopped coming to Bailey Island.
Before World War II, the running of the chapel was quite informal with interested summer residents taking charge as necessity required. Subsequently we began to have a chapel committee to run its affairs with elected officers. About this time the chapel inherited a small cottage for use as a summer rectory and this was used to provide lodging for the clergy and their family. However, the cottage had no independent water supply and septic system and was dependent on the facilities of a neighbor.
Eventually this arrangement proved unsatisfactory and the privilege was withdrawn. The land the cottage occupied was too small to develop its own facilities so the building was sold and torn down. Over time it has proved more practical to have supply priests come each Sunday, most of them from the local area or ones who visit Bailey Island for a short vacation. We now have one Eucharist service at 9:30 a.m.