In partnership with the Maine Memory Network Maine Memory Network

Western Maine Foothills Region

Hugh J. Chisholm, Sr.

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Much has been written about Hugh J. Chisholm and his skills at organizing companies. However, less is known about his philanthropic events, which had a major impact on the Town of Rumford. He had a goal to build a “model town” and engaged different firms to help lay out the lots and streets.

William H. Chisholm, Rumford, ca. 1979
William H. Chisholm, Rumford, ca. 1979

Item Contributed by
Greater Rumford Area Historical Society

The Rumford Falls Times newspaper, on September 14, 1901 described Chisholm’s proposed construction of Strathglass Park, a group of brick homes for the workers of the area. The Rumford Falls Realty (an outgrowth of the Rumford Falls Power Company) was established to develop these residences. He named the region “Strathglass Park” in memory of his family’s origins in Scotland.

Chisholm’s other interests were to develop an attractive business district to be constructed between the canal and the Androscoggin River. He generously contributed lands for various churches to be built in Rumford. He believed in healthy living and provided a free public skating rink to be maintained by him. Individual donations to the Library; to mill workers at Christmas, and park maintenance were also attributed to him.

The Rumford Mechanics Institute, the largest building constructed by Chisholm on the business island, was Chisholm’s answer to a YMCA for the Town of Rumford. He formed two organizations (The Rumford Mechanics Institutes to direct the facility, and the Institute Land Company to construct the building.) His intent was for the facility to provide opportunities for recreation and education. The dedication, which Chisholm and his friends attended, was held on November 9, 1911.

Hugh J. Chisholm’s last visit to Rumford Falls, was to attend the dedication of the Institute Building. The Portland Daily Press, July 9, 1912, reported that he had attended the dedication via special rail car, returning to Portland and then to his New York City apartment. He died in New York City on July 8, 1912 at age 67.

SOURCES:
Hugh J. Chisholm’s Magic Town, 1882-1912, by Peter A. McKenna
A History of Rumford, Maine, 1774-2000 by John J. Leane (1858) and Rumford Historical Society and Elliot E. “Bud” Burns (1972)
Paper Times, August, 1976 “The Man”