Women have been active in running social service programs in the Preble Chapel for 150 years. The women of the Channing Circle of Portland’s two Unitarian churches (First Parish and Park Street) held a fair in 1847 and raised $500 (matched by the men of the churches) to establish a ministry to the poor. The women raised $900 in 1851 to build a chapel to house those programs on land donated by Mary Deering Preble. The early women clothed the children who came to the chapel and started a sewing school to enable women to learn a trade. Bertha Pettengill became the chapel’s first woman minister in 1935 and served for ten years. The building almost fell to urban renewal in the 1960s, but its mission was revitalized in the 1980s when the Portland ministry-at-large began to support a large variety of social programs focusing on youth and family outreach, including day care.
Next door at 341 Cumberland Avenue is the former Pythian Temple, meeting place for trade unions, including women telephone operators ([site C18(../../places/congress-street/c18-new-england-telephone-exchange.html)).