1794 Meetinghouse

Purchase & Renovation Plans

[This top section is identical to our Blog post; see below for additional information.]

Dear New Salem Residents,

The Board of the 1794 Meetinghouse (the nonprofit) would like to buy the building known as 1794 Meetinghouse from the Town of New Salem in order to proceed with planned renovations.

This is a big decision for the Town and it’s important that you have the opportunity to consider the options and speak your concerns. We know the building needs work; we have found we cannot apply for grants until the legal status and the authority over work are clarified. It is critical to resolve these issues in order to proceed with the restoration and maintenance of this most cherished Town building.

We have planned two public meetings to answer questions and discuss the issues. Please join us if you can.

  • Thursday, June 3rd at 7 pm, on Zoom (via computer, smart phone, tablet or regular phone)
  • Saturday, June 5th at 11 am, on the Meetinghouse lawn (please bring your own portable chair and mask; rain-date is Sunday, June 6th, at 1:30 pm)

Please register in advance for the Zoom meeting on June 3rd (this will allow us to send a reminder message before the meeting and receive any advance questions you have): https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAvc-6tqT4iE9APZgosqac15hZnY576gQIq

More details are found at https://1794meetinghouse.org/1794-purchase-plans/. This will page will be updated from time to time. (You can also find it by clicking on About in the top menu bar, then 1794 Purchase & Renovation Plans.)

[Additional material not on the Blog post is below the first picture.]

1794 Meetinghouse in the Fall

1794 Meetinghouse was founded in 1986 to restore and preserve the 1794 New Salem Meetinghouse as a home for the arts serving the North Quabbin region; that remains our core purpose today. Major restoration work has been accomplished by community volunteers from 1985 to the grand opening in 1994 to to repair and restore a beautiful but greatly deteriorated building.

Since that restoration we’ve run 27 years of programs, brought in thousands of audience members, cast and performers to concerts, community theater, and to our resident community chorus. And now we feel the building is again in need of help. Exterior paint is pealing off; the shutters are slowly falling apart; the are minor leaks and structural issues to address. What we need now is a clear mandate to get the work done.

Five years ago, we became concerned over the slow deterioration and did preliminary work to determine the scope of what should be done. Three years ago, the Meetinghouse started applying for major grants, and we immediately hit a road-block when we discovered our lease had expired – the granting sources will not accept grants without clear legal status and a mandate for doing the work, and we had neither. Since that time, we’ve worked with Nancy Aldrich, Town Coordinator, and more recently with the Selectboard, first to try to get a new lease and now to purchase the building. After many months of work, it became clear that the purchase of the building following the recent model of Friends of the Wendell Meetinghouse with their meetinghouse made more sense.

We are ready and eager to continue our founding purpose and restart building renovations. The 1794 Meetinghouse Board feels the previous hybrid model of Town ownership with Meetinghouse as leasee is ineffective, and the lack of clear status has delayed our planned renovations for over three years. Ownership will clarify responsibility for the building and resolve the issues preventing us from applying for grants, enable less expensive renovations, and provide a shorter and less complex decision making process.

Please let us know what you think. You can call, email or write to us directly (our contact information is below), or come to one of our scheduled meetings.

Contact information:
Brad Foster, Executive Director
PO Box 8, New Salem MA 01355
(413) 335-3489 (please leave a message)