First Baptist Church of Bowdoin and Coombs Cemetery

Coombs Rd., off W side of US 201, .65 N of jct. with ME 125, Bowdoin Center, Maine


First Baptist Church of Bowdoin; ca. 1837

Photo taken by Brian Bartlett



The First Baptist Church of Bowdoin was organized August 11, 1788, as a Calvinist Church, with Elder James Potter, who referred to the church as "A Regular, Particular, Baptist Church", serving as the first pastor. The original church, probably located on the Lewis Road in Bowdoin, was built in 1799 and burned by an arsonist on May 16, 1836. The present church was built between 1836 and 1839, and restored by John and Viola Coombs in 1901. On June 10, 1901, a dedication service was held, with Elders ZM Beal and Hiram Campbell preaching an old-time Calvinist service. The cemetery wall was added by Viola Coombs in the 1920's at a cost of $10,000. On June 20, 1927, Bowdoin College Trustees entered into a trust agreement with Viola Coombs, agreeing to assume responsibility for the care of the cemetery and church. In 1994, using funds from the Viola Coombs Trust, the college restored the church and cemetery wall, then transferred responsibilty to the Bowdoin Historical Society, where it resides to this day. This history of the church was taken from the June 4, 1995, Rededication Service pamphlet.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on June 20, 1997
Reference number
Architectural styles
Federal; Mid 19th Century Revival: Exotic Revival
Areas of significance
Conservation; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction; A - Event
Property type
Historic functions
Cemetery; Religious structure
Current functions
Cemetery; Religious structure
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1875-1899; 1850-1874; 1825-1849
Significant year
Number of properties
Contributing buildings: 1
Contributing sites: 1

Update Log 

  • November 6, 2018: New photos from Brian Bartlett
  • November 1, 2015: Updated by Brian Bartlett: fixed address
  • December 26, 2013: Updated by Brian Bartlett: Added description.
  • August 23, 2013: Photo imported by Brian Bartlett