BROWNFIELD, Maine — A building once dubbed “the smallest church in the world” was adopted by the Brownfield Historical Society last Thursday.
West Brownfield resident Fran Parsons, whose grandparents (Deacon Harry Barton and Estelle Barton) built the church around 1915, signed over the deed to the Historical Society on Nov. 13, at the Law Office of Craig L. Holden in Fryeburg. The church is located in the woods off Porter Road in West Brownfield.
The Bartons came over from England, started a family and spent their lives in West Brownfield, said Parsons.
“I’ve had a hard time trying to give it up, but it’s come to the time where it’s going to need work and the Historical Society of Brownfield has been so kind as to offer to keep it up,” said Parsons. “I want them to have it.”
She said both grandparents were ordained ministers who gave services there.
“My parents were married there,” said Parsons. “It was a fully functioning church.”
According to the book “Brownfield, Maine, An Illustrated History,” which was recently republished by Bradford A. Fuller, the Pentacoastal church once held the Guinness record as the smallest church in the world.
However, a spokeswoman from Guinness told the Sun last Friday that she could not confirm whether the Brownfield church ever actually held that title.
The church is about 10 by 12 feet and built to hold about 40 people. The wooden building has no heat or plumbing.
Parsons said that when the crowd was too large at her grandparents’ services, they would keep the door open and people would listen from the lawn.
Historical Society President Nancy Boucher said Parsons’ donation is “generous.”
The historical society is a non-profit that’s open from April-October.
“It’s just a beautiful little spot, where it is, (but) it does need some upkeep, and we’re going to do that,” said Boucher.
Along Boucher and Parsons at the lawyer’s office were several members of Parsons’ family and historical society secretary Joanne Thurston.
While Boucher believes the church probably no longer is the smallest in the world, historical society members thought having the church was still “awesome.”
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the smallest church is “Santa Isabel de Hungría, in Colomares, a monument to Christopher Columbus at Benalmadena, Málaga, Spain. It is irregular in shape and has a total floor area of 1.96 square meters (21 square feet).”
Eventually, the historical society will make the building available for people who want to use it. The society may also use it for some small functions. Boucher said it needs a new roof, new cushions and some updating.
At the law office, historical society members presented Parsons with a painting of the church done by Sid DeWitt. The painting also appears in Fuller’s book.
Donations for the upkeep of the church can be mailed to Brownfield Historical Society, 257 Main St., P.O. Box 264, Brownfield, ME 04010.