Lyndeborough considers purchase of Center Church

  • This United Church of Lyndeborough church is currently being considered by the town for purchase. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 2/15/2021 4:34:06 PM

The Town of Lyndeborough may secure grants and private fundraising to purchase the United Church of Lyndeborough in the old town center.

“The United Church of Lyndeborough is pleased to announce that we are working with the Lyndeborough Historical Society to secure the preservation of the Center Church,” the Rev. Paul Lemire said in a statement to the Ledger-Transcript. “We view this building as a historic treasure and know that the Historical Society holds the same view.”

The town first invited Lemire to discuss the sale of the church during a Select Board meeting on Jan. 27. Lemire told the board that the church had been approached at some point in the year prior about selling to a private buyer, but the church had ultimately decided not to sell. However, Lemire said, if the town was interested in the purchase of the property, the church was willing to negotiate.

Since that meeting, members of the town’s Heritage Commission have met with representatives of the church to continue those negotiations.

“There’s a lot of people who love that building, and think it should remain where it is and how it is,” said Leo Trudeau of Lyndeborough, who was a one-time member of the church.

Stephanie Roper, chair of the Lyndeborough Heritage Commission, met with the Select Board Wednesday to discuss those negotiations, and whether the town would be amenable to moving forward with purchasing the Center Church building. She said the church had scheduled a meeting of the membership to confirm the willingness to sell the church, which has been scheduled at some point this month.

Roper said the town had made an offer to purchase the building for $156,000. She said both parties are aware that it will likely be a multi-year process to raise the funding. Roper said she hoped to begin fundraising for a 10 percent down payment this year.

Roper proposed the Heritage Commission take on a fundraising campaign, and seek funding from grants such as the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, or LCHIP, which specialize in preservation of property and historic buildings, and purchase the building for town use without having to request funds from Town Meeting.

The building is significant historically, Roper said. It is in the town’s Historic District, which is part of the National Register of Historic Places, along with the Town Pound and old Town Hall.

“The Center is all over the [town’s Master Plan],” Roper said. “Preserving Lyndeborough Center is a key goal.”

The church is built in a Greek Revival style, and was built in 1837. When the Baptist and Congregationalist churches merged, the church came under the ownership of the United Church of Lyndeborough. The building is not heated, and isn’t used during the winter.

Roper said she could see many potential uses for the building, including as a rental for events, but also as another town gathering place. The town purchasing the building, she said, also ensures that it’s historical significance is secure.

The board did not object to the Heritage Commission continuing negotiations, or starting fundraising efforts, or to adopting the church as a town building and adding it to the town’s insurance policy after its purchase, though lingering questions about the process remained.

“I think it’s important the church remain as part of the center,” Select Board Chair Mark Chamberlain said.

However, many questions linger unanswered for the board about the purchasing process. Though Lemire was present during the Jan. 27 meeting, and was asked several questions about the full purchasing process, the board received few answers. Selectman Fred Douglas told Roper he wanted to know more about the process and ensure that if the town took ownership of the church that it was done properly.

A request for clarification of the process was not answered by the church by press time Monday.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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