Monday, March 22, 2021

Scaffolding Goes Up for Phase 2

The spring thaw is in full swing and the scaffolding is out! This morning Joseph Gnazzo Company Inc. of Union, CT arrived bright and early and began assembling the complex scaffolding over the East face of the church tower. This will be in place throughout the next several weeks as they repair bulging and cracked stones, and replace many areas that are missing mortar.


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Contract Awarded for Phase 2

UUCW received bids from three masonry firms for our proposed Phase 2 repairs. After careful consultation with Structures North Consulting Engineers and the Massachusetts Historical Commission, we awarded the contract to Joseph Gnazzo Company Inc. of Union, CT. We are well acquainted with Gnazzo as they had ably performed our Phase 1 repairs in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.
Phase 2 repairs will complete the remainder of the East elevation face and then begin earnest work on the church tower, which is in the greatest need of repair. We’ll be working on the East tower face, including the clock spire, and Northeast buttress (shown below). The buttress work will require dismantling and resetting some of the very large support stones.

We are patiently awaiting the arrival of warmer weather and are at the top of Gnazzo’s Spring schedule to begin work. Watch for the arrival of the tell-tale scaffolding!

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Invitation to Bid Posted for Phase 2

Legal ads for our Phase 2 masonry repairs were published today in the Gardner News, the Worcester Telegram and the Winchendon Courier. The official ad reads as follows:

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Winchendon, a.k.a. The Church of the Unity, 126 Central Street, Winchendon, MA, requests bids for masonry repair of their 1866 granite building which is listed in the State Register of Historic Places.
The project is being partially funded with a grant from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund through the Massachusetts Historical Commission. All work must be performed in accordance with the documents prepared by Structures North Consulting Engineers Inc., 60 Washington Street, Salem, MA 01970 (Telephone 978-745-6817) and meet the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. State law prohibits discrimination. Awarding of this contract is subject to Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity guidelines. A copy of bidding documents may be obtained by writing or telephoning John Wathne, Principal Engineer, at the above address.
A pre-bid meeting will be held at the church on September 22, 2020 at at 10:00 AM.
Bids shall be evaluated on the basis of price, previous experience with similar types of construction projects, ability to perform the work in a timely manner, and references. All bids must be delivered to the engineer’s office at the above address prior to September 30, 2020 to be eligible for consideration and all of the grant-funded work must be completed by June 30, 2021.

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.