The Greenfield Beat: Jesseca Timmons – Latest on the Meetinghouse

Published: 01-26-2023 9:00 AM

The Seven Hills Foundation, which purchased Crotched Mountain School, is now hiring in multiple areas, and some positions include housing on the campus.

In other good news, a Mexican restaurant is reportedly opening in the empty space downtown at Greenfield Meeting Place! Many people in town, myself included, are stunned by this great good fortune. (What’s next, a ramen truck at the recycling center?) Best of luck to all involved in this new venture. People in town are eager to support a new restaurant.

At Stephenson Library, Bev Wakeman’s beautiful collection of nesting Matryoshka dolls is currently on display. Stop by the library for a scavenger hunt quiz of the collection.

There is exciting news about the upcoming Meetinghouse repair and renovation project. Misiaszek Turpin Architects, who have been hired by the town, has completed a draft of design concepts for the building. These designs are based on past community input as well as the recommendations of the Select Board, the Friends of the Meetinghouse Board and Design Committee, and representatives from the Fire Department and the Historical Society.

The question is, how can the Meetinghouse continue to best serve the people of Greenfield for generations to come? What do we need to think about for the next 10, 25 or even 100 years?

Interestingly, some things in Greenfield have not changed a lot since 1795. The Meetinghouse is still the right size to serve the town, so the building does not need to be enlarged. But, unlike in 1795, we now need to think about having the building meet today’s technological needs, address building energy efficiency standards and be fully accessible to all future generations.

Because the Meetinghouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the “Oldest Meetinghouse in New Hampshire Used for Both Church and State,” the facade of the the building won’t change. The interior of the building, however, has been altered and changed numerous times in the past 228 years. The building was turned 180 degrees orient the entrance to the south. The second-floor mezzanine was filled in to become the second floor as we know it today.

Staircases have come and gone. The basement was finished. The stage and dais were added. The stained-glass windows and a pressed tin ceiling were installed in 1907, and the list goes on. Historic documents and living memory confirm that floors, paint, woodwork, lighting, trim, shutters, railings, carpet and windows have all been changed and replaced as needed over time.

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The most-untouched portions of the building are the belfry and clock tower, which are not original to the structure.

For these reasons, the Meetinghouse project is not a historic preservation; it’s a massive repair project including minor renovations to make the building safe and accessible, including a new elevator and fire stairs. As Tom Bascom of the Greenfield Select Board said at a recent meeting, “The Meetinghouse has to be a building that works for what the town needs now. It’s not just a museum or a historic site; it’s a living, functioning building in the community that has always changed over time to meet the needs of residents. What we need to do is figure out how it can best serve us now and for future generations.”

The Friends of the Meetinghouse Board and Design Committee is are currently finalizing dates for a community event to present the draft of the Meetinghouse design plans. All residents are encouraged to come and share their ideas and visions of how the Meetinghouse can best serve our town. Please stay tuned for the time and date of this event.

Please contact me at jesstimm17@gmail.com with ideas for The Greenfield Beat.

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