Old Meeting House, South Freedom -
In the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the town of Freedom was a populous and thriving center. It had a grist mill, a corn mill, a lumber mill, a dowel mill, and a shingle mill. Surrounded by a community of farmers, they produced enough to support a large canning factory, a woolen mill, and a tannery.
Freedom Village, sizable for it day, had numerous service businesses: a dry goods and general store, a barber shop, two blacksmith shops, a shoe shop, and the community’s Congregational Church. At one time there were three hotels in Freedom - Freedom Lakewood, Hotel Maine, and the Bellows House. Freedom Academy, for years the only secondary school in the area, was established in 1836. The town also possessed a Grand Army of the Republic Hall.
As time passed Freedom’s population and prosperity slowly eroded. Fifty years ago, one last mill remained standing. Abandoned, unused, it was sliding slowly, precariously off its foundation. One small general store remained. Gone were the hotels, the little shops. The cannon that sat on the lawn of the Republic Hall had been scrapped for metal during World War II. Freedom Academy had burned to the ground, the canning factory was now a run-down liquidation center. One by one Freedom’s historic buildings had slowly decayed until so many were past all repair.
Then in this lifetime, the town slowly revived. As if wakening from a deep sleep, a new generation of citizens (some from “away" ) started taking new pride in Freedom's heritage. A new energy blossomed. Old houses have been renewed, farming and gardening have taken hold again. The local Historic Society in partnership with Town Government has renewed and restored South Freedom’s old Meeting House, and the remaining mill has been privately restored with painstaking care and historical accuracy. Now the newly formed Freedom Community Historical Society is in the process of restoring Keen Hall. Built c. 1850, it is centrally located in Freedom Village and will add bring to the citizens not only an additional space for community activities but an added sense of pride in Freedom's latest accomplishments.