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:

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.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Gnazzo Construction Begins Work

After a careful evaluation of bids from five separate masonry firms, our Governing Board selected Joseph Gnazzo Company, Inc., based in Union, CT to undertake Phase 1 restoration work. Gnazzo has extensive experience in historic restoration projects both large and small, and was able to begin work this fall. Their first step was to erect scaffolding over the entire front entryway and place protective tarps over the work area.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Set in Stone Moves into Phase 1 Bidding Stage

Five different masonry firms, all specialists in historic stonework repair, gathered at the church to examine the daunting task of repairing the church stonework. Phase 1 of this extensive project, funded by the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation, focuses on the front entrance and quelling the water seepage that has accelerated plaster deterioration in the interior archway. The firms will be submitting their bids for work within the week, and UUCW will be awarding the contract to one of the masons this month. Ideally, you should be seeing scaffolding and work beginning in earnest later this month before the weather gets too cold.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Gourmet Dinner Fundraiser Delivers!

Sandy Dellasanta was one of two lucky winners of the UUCW gourmet dinner raffle conducted June 15. Net proceeds will support our Set in Stone capital campaign to raise funds for building restoration. Sandy was treated to rich lobster lasagna, stuffed mushrooms, fruit and nut salad, and chocolate ganache cake, prepared by Chef Inanna Arthen and delivered to her doorstep!