A Brief History of Channing Chapel, Home of the Winter Harbor Public Library

In 1887 David Flint, a summer resident of Winter Harbor, made the decision to build a Unitarian chapel on land that he owned which lay adjacent to his large cottage on Inner Harbor. Flint was a Boston lumber dealer, who, after being widowed, had married his wife’s doctor, a local woman named Almeda Guptill Baker. Being a staunch follower of William Ellery Channing and believing that there was sufficient interest in Unitarianism here, Flint felt that there was need for a meeting place.

In the winter of 1887-1888 both beach and field stones were brought to the site of the future chapel by people of the village since it was much easier to transport them over the frozen ground rather than wait for summer when the chapel was to be built. The chapel walls were begun on June 18, 1888, and the building was finished and ready for dedication ceremonies on August 28, 1888.

The auditorium window, at the west end of the building, contains a likeness of William Emery Channing, the founder of Unitarianism.

The vestry, which was originally known as the Channing Free Library, displays a likeness of David Flint. This window was donated and installed as a surprise gift to Mr. Flint. The double desk used by the librarian was originally used in Flint’s lumber office on Long Wharf in Boston in the middle of the 19th century. A record of the desk’s history is penciled in one of the center drawers.


  • August 22, 1888: First service held in chapel.

  • August 29, 1888: Channing Chapel dedicated. David Flint established a library of classics in the upper room, known as Channing Free Library.

  • 1903: Flint died. His widow, Dr. Almena Flint, gave the classics to a southern school for poor whites and purchased new books for the Winter Harbor library.

  • June 1920: Dr. J. S. Bragg and others formed Winter Harbor Library Association and received permission from the Unitarian Society to maintain the library in the upper room of the chapel for the use of the townspeople.

  • 1958: Chapel given to the town of Winter Harbor by the American Unitarian Association. Town voted to sell the chapel building. The library was moved to the old high school on Harbor Road.

  • 1993: Channing Chapel Preservation Society formed and purchased the building.

  • February 1996: Winter Harbor Public Library returned to Channing Chapel.

Get to Know Us:

Board of Trustees

President: Howard T. Howard
Vice President: Cynthia Alley
Secretary: Kathleen M. Nauss
Treasurer: Rick Brown
Michael Campbell
Mary Kachoris
Sandy Smallidge

Library Staff

Library Director

Ruth Axtell Mapleton

Library Assistant

Cynthia Alley

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Without our team of dedicated volunteers, none of this would be possible. If you are interested in volunteering, please let us know. We are always in need of you.