The center door is a feature of Colonial period meetinghouses. It is the “Door of Honor”, which the minister and his family used.
Those pews are box pews, which were for families. Single people would sit in the balcony, if available.
The Old West Road on which this church stands was one of the worst dirt roads I have driven in decades. My vehicle is equipped with traction control and 4-wheel drive. My car was still sliding on the mud. So, I shifted into the snow gear. It really wasn’t much better. I had to drive ridiculously slow, practically riding my breakdown, AND EVEN UP the many hills! Not a good time, folks!
If you’re considering visiting this church, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND doing so in the Summer or early Fall for your safety. I may do some questionable things when I travel to a site to film. But, YOU don’t have to follow in my footsteps or tire tracks.
BE SAFE OUR THERE, FRIENDS!!
National Park Service:
“Old West Church, an extremely well preserved meeting house, has served the community of Calais since 1825. Interestingly, the Old West Church is more typical of southern New England churches built half a century earlier, as it was modeled on late 18th-century meeting houses that Calais’ settlers had attended in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The meeting house, serving both religious and secular functions, had no precedent in England, and was an early American building type.
In 1823 the town’s settlers formed the First Meeting House Society of Calais to select a plan for a meeting house. Although it is unknown whose design was selected, all of the committee members were likely influenced by memories of their former meeting houses, erected in the late 1700s, which they had been long absent from. The construction of such a familiar building was an important step in the establishment of their community. The selected plan may have been designed by the moderator of this group, Caleb Curtiss, who had migrated from Salisbury, Connecticut. Curtiss family tradition holds that Caleb’s plan drew upon his memory of the Salisbury Meeting House, and in many ways Old West Church is a simplified interpretation of that building.
The Old West Church is an excellent example of 18th-century New England meeting houses with its rectangular form, gable roof, frame construction, white clapboards, and simple three-tiered spire symbolizing its importance to the community. The three-sided balcony, arrangement of pews, and elevated pulpit of the church’s interior were less hierarchical than traditional Christian churches of that time. Unique to Old West Church is the 19th-century blue paint used for various interior surfaces and the phrase “Remove Not The Ancient Landmark Which Thy Fathers Have Set” mounted above the pulpit in 1886. The church was originally owned by six denominations, the Baptists, Universalists, Congregationalists, Christians, Free Will Baptists, and Methodists. The building was also used for secular purposes such as community meetings and plays.”-https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/centralvermont/cv40.htm
“Old West Church is a historic church on Old West Road in the Kents Corner area of Calais, Vermont. Built 1823–25, it is a little-altered example of an early 19th-century rural Vermont church. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
The Old West Church stands in a rural area of Calais, 0.8 miles (1.3 km) south of the crossroads village of Kents Corner, on the west side of Old West Road. It is a tall single-story wood-frame structure, with a gabled roof, clapboarded exterior, and stone foundation. A three-stage tower rises above the front facade, with a square first stage housing the belfry, and two octagonal stages of decreasing size. The main facade has a bank of three similar entrances, each flanked by pilasters, and all set under a common entablature and cornice. Sash windows flank this assemblage, and a second level also has three sash windows. The interior has a vestibule with stairs leading to a gallery level on either side, and is otherwise a single large chamber. The gallery extends on three sides, supported by square posts. The pulpit is against the far wall, and the interior is filled with original plain pine box pews.
The church was built in the mid-1820s, in a style that was more common to the late 18th century. The pulpit, originally built at the height of the gallery, was lowered to its present height a few years later. The building has no modern amenities, and is heated by wood stoves installed at the rear in 1831. Its steeple was damaged by lightning in 1953, at which time the weathervane was replaced.”-https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_West_Church_(Calais,_Vermont)