Dilapidated property gets new life
Congregational Church takes on historic property in need of improvements
A Valley Road property was torn down Tuesday to make room for parking spaces for the Mason Congregational Church and restoration of green fields. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
A colonial house at least 100 years old on property adjacent to the Mason Congregational Church on Valley Road was demolished Tuesday, to make way for additional church parking and some green space in the town center. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
Once, Williams Cities Service Station stood between the church and the property purchased last year. Now, the area is overgrown with invasive plant life and weeds. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »
A Valley Road property was torn down on Tuesday to make room for parking spaces for the Mason Congregational Church, and restoring the rest of the area to green fields.
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MASON — It’s been a year of change for the Mason Congregational Church. The church has gotten a fresh coat of paint and a new interim minister, and plans to sell the vacant parish property. But the church trustees’ latest step in improving the church grounds will solve one issue that the town has long considered a liability and the neighbors an eyesore: the raizing of an empty and overrun property next door.
“Life in the little Mason church is extremely busy,” said Bettie Goen, chair of the Mason Congregational Church Trustees in a recent interview.
Next to the church on Valley Street in the town center is a colonial-style house dating back at least 100 years. But for at least the last 30 years, the house has remained empty as the owner lived elsewhere. The property has become run down, with windows broken and the building in general disrepair and no one occupying it. The land between the house and the church is now choked with invasive plants like bittersweet and brambles.
But not for much long.
Last year when the previous owner, Arthur Williams, passed away, the church approached the lawyer handling his estate about purchasing the property.
The land has a long history in Mason, first serving as the site for the Mason General Store and then later Williams Cities Service Station, said Goen.
Longtime Mason residents and church members Curt Dunn and Arthur Rafter remember going into the store to buy little bits of candy, and Rafter recalled the first gas station pumps, which had to be hand cranked. Now, aside from the residence, the only structures left standing there are some historic stone horse-hitching posts, which the church plans to leave where they are.
After the property has cleared a state Department of Environmental Services inspection for removal of harmful materials, the house will be taken down, the invasive plants will be ripped out, and the property will be given new life as much-needed extra parking for the church and the rest is to be restored to green fields.
The changes are all part of a capital improvement plan implemented by the church last year. In the past year, the church has raised more than $100,000 in donations and fundraising to repair and paint the exterior of the church and for the purchase of the neighboring property. The church is still hoping to raise a further $50,000 for capital improvements, including a fund for impending roof repairs.
The church plans to use the space currently covered with plant life for a gravel parking lot, which will support an estimated 20 additional parking spaces. The rest, will be green space, which will be a huge improvement over the house there now, said Dunn.
“For safety’s sake, the building has to come down,” said Dunn.
The building was removed on Tuesday by Eric Anderson of Mason, who donated his services in exchange for a portion of the granite foundation of the house and the house’s roofing beams. Goen anticipates improvements to the lot being finalized within two weeks of the house’s removal.
Once the field is restored, the church will put in some minimal landscaping, but the plans are to keep it simple and open, said Goen.