Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Massachusetts Historical Commission Conducts Site Visit

On July 17 UUCW hosted a site visit from Tracey Fortier, Preservation Planner, from the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC), and John Wathne, Principal Engineer, from Structures North Engineering. Their visit signaled the official start of Phase 2 Set in Stone masonry repairs.

The pair undertook a thorough review of the building, taking many measurements and pictures. They confirmed the scope of Phase 2, which will finish up mortar work on the East elevation building face and repair the East face of the bell tower. We hope to “fast-track” this work, sending out requests for bids in late August and starting work this fall.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Set in Stone Awarded Massachusetts Preservation Project Fund State Grant

In our March 16 blog post, we reported on our first-ever application to the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC) for special funding to continue our Set in Stone masonry repairs. MHC oversees the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF), a state-funded 50% reimbursable matching grant program established in 1984 to support the preservation of properties, landscapes, and sites (cultural resources) listed in the State Register of Historic Places.
This year, MHC received 33 applications with requests totaling nearly $2 million. UUCW’s application was one of only three applications that were pulled early and selected for emergency funding, based upon our compelling case and “high potential for loss.”
Our $50,000 MPPF grant, plus a matching grant received from the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation, will enable us to begin urgent “Phase 2” masonry repairs on our bell tower. The rest of 2020 will now be very busy!

Monday, June 1, 2020

Gnazzo Repairs Coping Stones

Joseph Gnazzo Company, Inc. returned to UUCW today for one more week of stonework repair. The last vestiges of the Phase 1 funds are being used to seal the long coping stones that cap off the tall front gable, and repair a bulging section of granite blocks near the bell tower. This time, the work can be accomplished with only one worker in a bucket lift, instead of the multi-story scaffolding required last fall. No fear of heights for this mason!

Monday, March 16, 2020

Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund Application Submitted!

Today we submitted an application to the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MCP) for a Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF) grant to continue onward with our stonework repair. MPPF is a 50% reimbursable matching grant program, and we have a pledge from the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation for the other 50%. MHC receives between 40-50 requests each year, and competition can be stiff. UUCW made a compelling case for the historic significance of our church and the community service it provides.
The grant process is rigorous, requiring legal attestations, detailed photographic documentation, a commitment to enter into a Preservation Restriction (see Mar 3 blog post below), and a copy of the original hand-written deed, signed by Ephraim Murdock Jr.
The application also asked for letters of community support. We were most grateful to obtain letters from the Winchendon History and Cultural Center, the Agricultural Commission, the Community Action Committee  Toy Town AA, Winchendon Winds, and the Winchendon Historic Commission. We thank all of these folks for their kind words.
All in all, we required a two-inch binder to compile the application! Our fingers are crossed; MHC will notify all applicants of their decisions in late June.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

UUCW Approves Preservation Restriction

For the next phase of stonework repair, UUCW will be seeking financial assistance from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF), administered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MCP). MPPF is a state-funded 50% reimbursable matching grant program established in 1984 to support the preservation of properties, landscapes, and sites listed in the State Register of Historic Places. Our church is listed in the Winchendon Village National Historic District and is thus eligible for this type of grant.

Because the State is investing in historic property preservation, they require grant recipients to place a “Preservation Restriction” on their property deed in perpetuity. This will limit the amount and type of future changes that can be made to the property without prior permission from MCP.

The Governing Board deliberated carefully about this requirement at their meeting on February 9, and concluded that in the foreseeable future, UUCW is unlikely to make changes drastic enough to be limited by a Preservation Restriction. The Board voted unanimously to approve the Preservation Restriction commitment. At present this is only a commitment, contingent upon successful MPPF funding. UUCW will be notified of MHC’s funding decision by late June.

The statute covering Preservation Restriction can be found at:
malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/...

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Phase 1 Restoration Complete

The scaffolding is down and the craftmanship of Joseph Gnazzo Construction is fully revealed! We started out with many areas of gaping holes and broken mortar. We ended up with fresh mortar filling in the entire depth of each granite block. The finished area surrounding the front entry is easy to distinguish. Over time the slightly darker brown mortar will lighten to match the old mortar.


New mortar between reset stones.

Our work has just begun. We have much more repair ahead of us, particularly to the bell tower. We’ll be applying for state grant assistance to continue this work in 2020, which is very competitive. We’ll also be planning some local fundraisers in additional to our summer and fall lawn fairs. We’ll need every dollar we can get to insure this historic landmark will last yet another 150 years!


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Stone Extraction and Cleaning

Many of the front granite stones had shifted out of place over time. The restoration work involves extraction of many granite pieces, some quite large, including the carved cross over the top of the entryway gable.

Gnazzo used a lull (a combination forklift and tractor) to move these pieces and power-wash the areas behind. The stones were carefully reset in place. New flashing will be added to further protect from wet weather.