Our mission is to collect, preserve, and educate the public about the history of the town of Yarmouth and the area of ancient North Yarmouth. Yarmouth Historical Society has one of the finest local history collections in Maine. The Society exhibits this collection at the Yarmouth History Center at 118 East Elm Street, Yarmouth, Maine. At the Center, visitors can view some of the collection’s thousands of objects, archives, and photographs that document our heritage from the early history to yesterday.
Built in 1796, the Meeting House on the Hill was sold shortly thereafter to the Baptist Religious Society, which had formed from a group that began meeting in Oliver Byram's nearby barn. Originally, it was a simple design, having an entrance under the tower, topped by a small steeple. There were two rows of five small-paned windows on each side, box pews, galleries, and a canopied pulpit with stairs leading up to it. The Meeting House was likely built by local men who lived in the immediate area at a cost of about $6,790. Money to pay for the building was raised by the sale of pews which became the deeded property of the owners. In the 1820s and '30s, the building underwent significant alterations that brought its appearance much closer to what we see today. A larger porch was built along with a new tower, belfry, and conical spire. Later, interior renovations included eliminating the small early windows and replacing them with larger windows. Additionally, the old pulpit, galleries, and box pews were removed and the present slip pews installed. The shallow barrel vaulted barrel ceiling was installed and the floor was raised at the rear to provide better visibility.
In 1889, the building ceased to be used as a church, as the Baptists had built their present church, designed by noted Portland architect John Calvin Stevens, on Main Street. The Meeting House bell was moved to the new church. Since that time the building has been used for various purposes. George and Ellen Hammond purchased it in 1890 and renovated it for use as the town's library and antiquarian society. It continued in this use, as "Memorial Hall," until about 1910, after which it was used for town meetings. During World War II, local volunteers used the belfry as a lookout for enemy aircraft. The Meeting House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is currently owned by the Town of Yarmouth with maintenance and preservation overseen by the Village Improvement Society. The Town and VIS received an award in 2004 from Maine Preservation in recognition of their collaborative efforts to preserve history.