April 13, 2019
A Great Success!
Louis DiMola representing The Old Groton Meeting House Preservation Fund (OGMHPF) presents a check for $10,000 for the Phase 2 Meeting House Preservation Project to Allen King representing First Parish Church. Front Row, L to R: Dianne Hewitt (First Parish Board), Allen King (First Parish Buildings and Grounds), Louis DiMola (Chair, OGMHPF Board). Back Row, L to R: Michael LaTerz (OGMHPF Board), Hon. Robert S. Hargraves (OGMHPF Board), Steve Lieman (Liaison to First Parish).
Second Oldest Meeting House In Continuous Operation
Time is of the essence when it comes to the Meeting House. Spanning four centuries of our country’s history, the building is a mark of our heritage and our deepest values: civic duty, democracy, and community. Perched atop Minuteman Common, across from the town library, the Old Meeting House defines Groton’s character and its landscape.
The scene of many historic events, including Minutemen musters and Shays’ Rebellion, the building served as Groton’s town hall from 1755, when it was built, until 1859. Throughout its 260-year history, the Meeting House has hosted many civic events, and today Alcoholics Anonymous, Debtors Anonymous, Climbing Caprines 4-H Goat Club, Friendly Yoga, and Groton Interfaith Council meetings—to name a few—are held there.
Already enrolled on the Massachusetts Register of Historic Places, The Meeting House is believed to be the second oldest wood framed meetinghouse in continuous operation in the country, and an application for its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, submitted by the Historical Commission, is in process.
When the current Town Hall was built and occupied, stewardship of the Meeting House reverted to its tenant, the First Parish Church, which for the past century and half has studiously seen to its care and upkeep. As the building has aged, what once were mere maintenance issues have evolved into preservation and restoration challenges.
To meet the challenges, the Old Groton Meeting House Preservation Fund was established in 2017 to ensure the restoration and preservation of the Meeting House, to advance recognition of its significant role in the history of the Town of Groton, and to create an endowment to ensure the sustainability of the Meeting House into perpetuity.
To that end, we have pursued grants and raised awareness and funds to support the current two-phase rehabilitation project recommended and designed by Spencer and Vogt Group, and it has also set a goal over the next five years to build up an endowment totaling $500,000.
The endowment will provide an available fund in perpetuity to reflect the community’s commitment to preserve and protect this Groton landmark and national treasure.
Over the past two years, the rehabilitation project has been successful in repairing the significant structural issues in the steeple and attic, addressing the paint issues on the façade, revitalizing and reinstalling “Buddy” the steeple cock (to much fanfare in the summer of 2017) and restoring the clock, which is set to chime again by the start of 2019, 264 years after the Meeting House was built.
While the passage of time renders the Meeting House a treasure in grave need of protection and preservation, we are working hard to make sure the time we do so is now.
You can learn more about the rich history of the Meeting House by visiting www.oldgrotonmeetinghouse.org. Contributions to the endowment can be made on that web site or by check made payable to: Old Groton Meeting House Preservation Fund and sent to P.O. Box 1065, Groton, MA 01450.
Old Groton Meeting House Preservation Fund,
Louis DiMola, Board Chair
Hon. Robert S. Hargraves, Board Vice-Chair
Allen King, Treasurer
Laura Rogerson Moore
Steve Lieman, First Parish liaison