By Katie Richardson
Photos by Alena Banks
If you have driven through Newbury (NH) in the past few years, you have noticed that the Center Meeting House on the corner of Route 103 and 103B is undergoing renovations. Built in 1832 and designed by architect Asher Benjamin, the meeting house has become a labor of love for those spearheading its renewal.
The federal style building features a reverse pulpit layout and, in the words of State Architectural Historian James L. Garvin, “virtuosity in design and execution.”
In 2005, a group of concerned residents met to discuss what could be done for the rapidly decaying building. The conclusion: “To restore the building as an historical artifact with no modern improvements.” Fundraising commenced and the committee’s goal to raise $1,475,000 for the restoration is more than halfway achieved. Additionally, the town of Newbury voted two years ago to contribute $75,000 through a warrant article.
According to Dan Wolf, president of the Center Meeting House Building Committee, the building is now structurally sound with a new foundation, roof, sills, major beams, trusses, decking and windows. Wolf stated the group’s wish to make renovations “as historically accurate as possible,” citing the 60 foot hemlock beams milled in Vermont and preservation of the original paint as examples. He said the next phase of the project is a rehab of the bell tower, which will cost $250,000.
Wolf said donations have slowed somewhat and looks to two fundraisers scheduled for this summer as a much-needed boost.
On July 10, the building committee is sponsoring a Navy band concert at Mount Sunapee Resort.
On August 15, the committee will host an historic homes tour, featuring four lake houses and four area farm houses.
Wolf sees the rehabilitation of the center meeting house as a cooperative effort that will enhance Newbury and the surrounding area for years to come. He said volunteers are sought to serve on various committees, including publicity and fundraising.
To learn more about the Newbury Center Meeting House project, log on to their website at www.centermeetinghouse.org.
Filed under: History, Stories | Tagged: Historic Preservation, Lake Sunapee Region, Volunteering | 4 Comments »