The History of the Finnish American Heritage Society of Maine
The Maple House: A Hotel
In the early days of the Maple House, a livery stable stood across the street, providing convenient local transportation for visitors, immigrants and other arrivals that disembarked the train on Depot Street and stayed at the Maple House.
The Maple House: A Boarding House
At some point the building evolved into a boarding house, providing room and board for many Finnish immigrant men. In the 30s it was shut down temporarily due to the ill health of the owner, Mrs. Lena Farnum. It was later leased to John and Rena Ring (circa 1937) who operated the business for three.
Ring-McKeen American Legion Post #151
The building was sold in 1946 and assumed a whole new function as the Ring-McKeen American Legion Post #151. McKeen was a descendant of Mikkonen, the first Finnish immigrant in West Paris. The name Mikkonen was Anglicized to McKeen. They removed the barn and interior partitions of the house to provide a parking lot and interior space to accommodate large gatherings. Two rooms on the first floor were paneled and rented to the town as a town office. A new kitchen was added in 1961 and a furnace in 1968.
Finnish American Heritage Center
In 1990, with the Legion inactive, they offered the building to the Finnish-American Heritage Society of Maine with the stipulation that the Legion be granted office space on the second floor and the opportunity to hold monthly meetings and an annual Hunter’s Supper. As the Finnish-American Heritage Center the first project was to add vinyl siding. The inside remains very much the same on the first floor other than the relocation of the staircase. A little paint, new ceiling tiles and lights made the meeting room sparkle. The open porch was enclosed, creating a storage area. The two paneled rooms serve as a library and a gift shop. In 1997 the second floor was refurbished and turned into a museum. In this building, where Finnish footprints abound, a monthly meeting is held on the third Sunday of each month from September through December and April through June. Open House is held every Sunday afternoon, from 2 to 4, in July and August.
Photos & Histories Collected & Compiled by Barbara Nurmi Payne