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Hancock Meetinghouse renovations find support

Union Leader Correspondent

August 06. 2013 8:16PM

A committee has formed to tackle the task of repairing the Hancock Meetinghouse to the tune of $1 million. (MEGHAN PIERCE PHOTO)

HANCOCK — Members of the Meetinghouse Restoration Committee are gearing up for a $1 million campaign for renovations.

The fundraiser sub-committee plans to meet tonight at 7 p.m. at the town office.Committee member and architect David Drasba got the ball rolling a few years back when he sought and received an LCHIP grant to study the building, said committee member and pastor of the Hancock Congregational Church Judy Copeland.

Hancock is in an unusual position in that the church and the town share ownership and responsibly for the building, so members of the community as well of the church are represented on the committee, Copeland said.

“All in all what has come out, given the age of the building, it’s in remarkably good shape. It was well-built from the start and well taken care of,” Copeland said. “It sits on very, very sandy soil so we just don’t have the moisture issues that we could have if it was sited differently.”

However, the 100-year-old slate roof is in need of replacing and the foundation also needs work. These are the major expenses of the project.“The building has reached the point where it needs a new slate roof, every 100, 110 years that needs to happen and it falls on our watch,” Copeland said. In referring to the foundation, she said, while the building has held up well, “You go down in the basement and there are timbers balancing on random rocks.”

The historically significant 1821 building was built across Main Street after the town’s first meetinghouse burned down.

Around 1850 the town moved the meetinghouse across Main Street to where it sits today.

Updates to the electricity and heating systems are also planned as well as handicapped accessible bathrooms and a platform lift to replace the chairlift that helps people up the curved stairway and into the church sanctuary.

Though very much a church on Sunday morning, the building is also used for concert series and community fundraisers.

“It’s a meetinghouse in the truest sense of the word,” Copeland said, as well as architecturally important. “It’s certainly an iconic building for people in town.”

In the past it was used more by the town as offices, meetings and for voting.

After the restoration, Copeland says, the building would be used even more by the community.

“It has the potential to be just a fabulous community space,” she said.

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