Designed in a bold Italianate style by Machias architect Andrew R. Gilson, Liberty Hall was built in 1873 at a cost of about $8,000. The magnificent building rises above the shores of Machias Bay. Here in 1775 local patriots captured the British ship, HMS Margaretta
, in the first sea victory of the American Revolution, a battle often called "The Lexington of the Seas." Liberty Hall was Andrew Gilson's masterpiece. At the time of its building, Liberty Hall stood at the center of the town's bustling prosperity. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, the quays of Machiasport rang to the sound of passengers embarking and disembarking on the Boston-Bar Harbor-Machiasport run, and the loading and unloading of cargoes of lumber and fish. Great steamers and schooners tied up at the wharves, where the Whitneyville-Machiasport railway also had its terminus. Long after the railway ceased, the sardine and herring packing factories preserved some of the town's busy commercial activity.
Construction of Liberty Hall took place from June to December of 1873. In January 1874, a great gala celebration marked the dedication of the building. The local newspapers gave full accounts of the occasion. Despite a powerful storm, over 400 people attended and the Machias Coronet Band performed. Beginning a tradition that continued until 2000, an excellent free supper was enjoyed by all, and dancing continued until dawn.
Liberty Hall quickly became the hub of community activity. Audiences packed the house for regularly scheduled theatrical and civic events. To this day, citizens of Machiasport and its sister towns fondly recall basketball games played or watched there, and the homecoming dinners and social suppers held in the Hall. The building's great theater, with its excellent acoustics and large graceful stage, was (as recently as 2000) the site of many a lively musical and theatrical production that brought people from near and afar.
The Committee to Save Liberty Hall and the Town of Machiasport have embarked on an ambitious restoration program. Despite its small population (1,120), the local community has rallied enthusiastically around the Campaign to Save Liberty Hall. The commitment to saving Liberty Hall has been greatly boosted, too, by the interest and support of others in the state of Maine and across the country.