Built in 1869 by Isaac Cunningham, a farmer from Union, Pioneer Cottage was reported by The Republican Journal (1879) to be the first private dwelling erected at Northport Wesleyan Grove Campmeeting which was founded in 1849. For the preceding years Cunningham and other families camped under tents on small platforms, 12’x18’, for two weeks during the campmeeting. Town Methodist congregations also camped in tents, later building large three-story Society cottages. Today these cottages, circling Auditorium Park and Merithew Square, still bear the town names.
The campmeeting newspaper, The Sea Breeze, reports in 1887: “Old Pioneer cottage on Merithew Square has been so thoroughly Elizabethianized, the old residents will hardly recognize it. It is owned by J. A. Clement, of Searsport, and I. J. Johnson, of Bucksport.”
Mr. Johnson was a Civil War Veteran, having served in the 19th Marine Regiment Co. E, 6th Battery, Heavy Artillery.
In 1897 Rev. William J. Wilson and his wife celebrated their Golden Anniversary at Pioneer Cottage with 100 guests. The couple was presented seventy-five dollar gold pieces. A century later the current owners Harold and Andrea Hede found pieces of the original canvas tent nailed to a board at the rear of the cottage and preserved them by covering them over with lap siding.
Contributed by: Beverly Crofoot, Bayside Historical Society