Biddeford Pool Community Center’s Mission

To promote the social and general welfare of the inhabitants of the Biddeford Pool area in Biddeford, Maine, while fostering assistance (educational and /or charitable) to persons in need.

Biddeford Pool Community Center’s History

The Biddeford Pool Community Center (BPCC), formerly known as the Biddeford Pool Community Club, has a long and vibrant history.  The mission and values that the Center serves today have existed since its founding in 1937.  From its Temperance origins to the 2015 decision of the membership to change the name of the organization, the Center has provided a place for community gathering and served as a resource for many people in the area.
temperanceBy the mid 1800’s, the Temperance movement, whose members pledged to abstain from alcohol, had grown in number and influence since its beginnings in Boston some 30 years earlier. Maine became the first state to ban alcohol in 1851, and for the next eighty years temperance meetings were held throughout the state.  For this purpose, the Maine Order of Good Templar’s raised the original building in Biddeford Pool on land donated by the late Nathaniel Davis in the 1870’s, and named it Atlantic Hall #99. Articles from an 1878 report on annual temperance gatherings in the Camp Ellis area explained that people were often ferried across the Saco River to the “Hall” in Biddeford Pool for meetings.  As an interesting aside it is rumored that St Martins Episcopal Church which is now located on St. Martins Lane held their services at Atlantic Hall #99 in their early years.  No idea how that happened as they were not known as teetotalers and surly did not sign any pledges to Temperance.  Maybe this type of accommodation by the local Templar’s is just an example of their sense of community which shows itself again after prohibition ends.


 In 1934 Prohibition ended in the United States and the Good Templar’s no longer required the building for meetings.  However, many of the members of Atlantic Hall recognized the benefit of maintaining the “Hall” as a place for the growing local population to gather, so the members made plans to re-purpose the building.  In 1937, the Biddeford Pool Community Club was established and Atlantic Hall #99 was renamed during the club’s very first board meeting.  The Maine Order of Good Templar’s relinquished all rights to the property with the stipulation that the club assume any debts associated with Atlantic Hall #99.  Even though prohibition had ended, an amendment was proposed and accepted by the new board that stated “alcoholic beverages not to be distributed at any club activities as requested by the past officers and members of Atlantic Hall” (overruled in a court case with the Good Templar’s in 1990).  It was also agreed to begin renting the building for public use for “four dollars per evening”.  Within a month of the first board meeting The Biddeford Pool Community Club was incorporated which began a new life for the old building. 
After the agreements were finalized, the fledgling Club began fulfilling its mission as a resource for the local community.  By the late 1930’s, books were collected to start a small library for area residents. During the Second World War, the Club purchased war bonds, held Christmas parties for soldiers stationed at the Pool, and allowed the troops use of their property. In the early ’60’s, the Club established its first educational scholarship as an annual donation for students graduating from Biddeford High School. In 1992, the educational fund was renamed the Joan Beaudry Memorial Education Fund, in memory of one of the Club’s beloved members.  Today, the Joan Beaudry Memorial Education Fund remains the flagship effort for the Center’s mission.
1982 May 20 Biddeford Journal Tribune
Even though the mission and philosophy of the Center has remained since its inception, the building itself, has undergone much change and has even been at risk of being sold.  For example, the part of the property that makes up the fenced in side yard, which was purchased for $450.00 in 1945, served as a parking lot for some time.  In the 1970’s the membership believed the Club was no longer viable and proposed selling the property. Fortunately, and thanks in great part to the efforts of teenagers in the community, money was raised to maintain interest and ownership of the building. Throughout the 1980’s the status of the building was challenged by code violations and some individuals who did not approve of the use, or lack-there-of, of the building. Again, the local residents rallied, collected money, and implemented the improvements that saved the building.  By the early 2000’s, an addition was completed, adding a library on the second floor, as well as a fire escape, and a chair lift.  Today, improvements continue to be made with renovations to the main hall on the first floor for the creation of a new common space and library!
BPCC’s establishment and history of service to the community is the result of the dedication and creativity of past and present members.  With the continued ideas, efforts, and financial backing of the community, the Biddeford Pool Community Center will be able to serve as a place for folks to come together and benefit their community for many years to come.