WELCOME TO HIGH MOUNTAIN HALL
When Meg climbed into the attic of the farm products store which has since become High Mountain Hall, she was awed by the beam work she saw. Her interest was in creating a space for movement, an alternative approach to fitness to machines in a gym, but suddenly there was the possibility of making something beautiful, hopefully with many uses. Meg’s early experience of collaborating with friends to create a cooperative preschool and later on several education boards, illustrated the value of a place for community action, support, and celebration for children and families. The creation of High Mountain Hall expanded those same ideas into something for individuals and groups, from the midcoast and beyond.
She has worked since 2008 to create new ways and a welcoming space for people to come together. These days, Meg is more often seen in the company of dogs and grandchildren than in a board meeting, but she, like many others, loves to meet a friend on the dance floor – moving her way to better health and happiness.
When Anna returned to midcoast Maine, after eight years away for college and work, she was enthusiastic about the entrepreneurial spirit she found here and was brimming with ideas about what she might like to do. Having managed a restaurant in Massachusetts and being an excellent, creative cook herself, Anna became very interested in healthy foods and juices. She started a catering company called The Conscious Kitchen, which, with the birth of her son, in 2015, became less public and more a personal initiative, a blog, and the focus of some of the Health Fairs hosted at High Mountain Hall. After running the office and events at HMH for about two and a half years, and also working as a wedding planner, Anna has, beginning in 2017, added management of the building to her responsibilities. You know: managing buildings, baby, husband, pets, event planning, and occasional catering jobs.. that kind of massive juggle that only the young can survive!
When organizing an event in support of that cooperative preschool that Meg and friends started, Courtney put on the event at High Mountain Hall. (Smart girl.) She and Anna were already collaborating in some healthy food / healthy lifestyle workshops, so when Anna left on maternity leave, Courtney agreed to take on the variety of work that emanates from the office at HMH. Her skills and easy personality made her such a great fit that she and Anna share the duties in the office and they continue to find ways to promote systems, products, and activities that support a healthy lifestyle. Sharing the work gives each of these women time to be mamas to their young sons - to everyone’s benefit.
From its beginning as a church, High Mountain Hall has had an active, richly diverse, function in the town of Camden. Built in 1848 on a hill overlooking the town and facing the harbor, the church housed first the Unitarian Universalist and then the Episcopal Church. In 1924, when St. Thomas Episcopal Church finished their new structure on Chestnut Street, the building was sold to a collective of farmers. The farmers used the facility to receive, store and mix grains, which they then bagged as custom feed mixes for their livestock and poultry. A small grocery store was added during the Depression, and also a gas station, as cars became more common. Variations of this mixed use continued for the next eighty years, ending with the sale of the building in September 2007.
The extensive renovation that followed the sale revealed a building with elegant lines. Gas tanks were removed; old siding, false fronts, and random windows were replaced with the intent of returning to the classic beauty of the original Greek Revival design. The twenty-six posts which held up the second floor were replaced with steel I-beams and four posts. The furnace room became a grand stair hall and the grain storage area became the 2000 square foot Hall. Outside, much of the asphalt which had surrounded the building was replaced with grass, gardens and gravel pathways.
Today the historical building at 5 Mountain Street is taking its place in the community in a new way. As a renewed focal point in town, the old church has become more visible, with all the original lines enhanced. As a gathering place, the Hall has found new life as a center for celebrations, conferences, yoga, dance, and fitness classes.