Looking to Meetinghouse’s future use and needs

Committee seeks public, voter support for $1M renovation

  • Plans are under way for an extensive renovation of the Hancock Meetinghouse, including complete replacement of the slate roof. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • Plans are under way for an extensive renovation of the Hancock Meetinghouse, including complete replacement of the slate roof. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Dave Anderson)
  • (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

HANCOCK — “Now it’s our generation’s turn!”

That’s the pitch members of the Meetinghouse Restoration Committee are making to encourage residents to support what they say will be the first major restoration of the building in 100 years. On Thursday, they plan to present photographs and architectural drawings and discuss restoration plans for the historic Main Street building.

Dave Drasba, a Hancock architect who is a member of the committee, said Friday that he will present a slide show that will illustrate the work the committee believes is needed. The group will be proposing to replace the deteriorating slate roof with a new roof, also using slate, and to make structural repairs in the attic, improve the foundation and fix windows and chimneys. The group is also looking at options for replacing the current furnaces.

Drasba said much of the discussion will focus on the lower level of the building, which had been home for a number of years to a community preschool program that is no longer in operation.

“We have a proposal to address accessibility options and some potential improvements to the old meeting hall space on the first floor,” he said. “That’s where we’ll be holding the meeting. We hope to be able to give a visual tour of the entire building without anyone having to leave their seats.”

Gary Ryer, who chairs the Meetinghouse Restoration Committee, said the meeting will be an opportunity for residents to share thoughts on the future of the building.

“We want to see what the community thinks,” Ryer said. “I’d like to hear ideas of how the downstairs of the building could be used in the future. It’s a great space.”

How to pay for the project will also be a topic on Thursday. The work could cost as much as $1 million, based on preliminary estimates. Drasba said the committee is starting to work on a fundraising effort and grants are being sought.

“Our anticipation is that the majority of the cost might be funded through a warrant article at the next Town Meeting,” Drasba said.

In a somewhat unusual arrangement, the meetinghouse is jointly owned by the town and the First Congregational Church, although the town owns the land on which the building sits.

The upper floor, which contains the church sanctuary, is owned and maintained by the church. In addition to worship services on Sundays, the upper level is frequently used for concerts, lectures, memorial services for town residents and other events.

The lower floor is owned by the town, although the pastor’s office is on that floor as well as an office used by the church that could become the location for new bathrooms and a new lift to provide better handicapped access to the upper floor.

Thursday’s meeting will be at 7 p.m., in the lower level of the meetinghouse.

Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or danderson@ledgertranscript.com. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.

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