The Friends of the Wendell Meetinghouse are actively engaged in restoring this beloved Meetinghouse to its former glory as an integral part of Wendell’s history.
Winter-Spring 2021 – Demolition
This season, most of the old plaster and lath was removed and an opening was cut into the upstairs mezzanine to allow for a balcony view.
The drop ceiling was also removed to open up the beautiful tin tile ceiling. As the tin ceiling was carefully removed for restoration, decades-old patterns remained on the ceiling that remind us of the lasting history contained throughout the building. Each tile was removed by hand and assessed for long-term use and integrity.
Spring-Summer 2021 – Ramp, Rear Door Construction
2021 brought us completion of a sturdy access ramp and handrails, and creation of the rear egress door, complete with exit sign and wiring for emergency lighting. The handicap-accessible and service ramp was approved by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and built by local carpenter Alistair MacMartin and volunteers who pitched in to help with construction and painting tasks.
Spring-Summer 2021 – Beam/timber repairs
With major support from the experienced Steve Striebel and his team, we were able to make necessary repairs to rotted timbers on the east wall. We are also indebted to Bob Leet for his work on plans that helped us do repairs to the damaged belfry timber, reinforce key trusses, and remove the central posts in the main room.
Summer 2021 – New Stone Steps project
The story of the New Stone Steps reflects the vision of volunteer stone mason Jonathan Von Ranson and a cast of donors and workers ready to create a pair of gracious new entryways to the Meetinghouse. For a closer look at this historic moment in the revival of our town’s most famous building, visit here.
Winter-Spring 2022 – Floor Reinforcement, Finishing
In the frigid days of February 2022, Tom Chaisson of Tri-County Construction and his son descended to the ancient four-foot crawl-space beneath the Meetinghouse to install massive new carrying beams and masonry piers to buttress the wide-plank pine floorboards above.
Following significant cleaning and sanding of the floorboards, in May 2022 Hal Flynn completed painting of the lobby and indoor floor finishing. The result is a floor that will support concert audiences, social events, and, best of all, dancing of every kind!
Spring – Summer 2022 – Carpentry, Lights and Painting
The Meetinghouse has beautiful windows and wainscotting which anchored our post-demolition dreams for a new interior space. But the wainscotting needed work, and new chair rails, trim and other finishing carpentry and repairs were also necessary. Plus, we needed lights, and all the electrical wiring and outlets to support a variety of future events taking place in the space.
Once all that was done, major plastering work took place, along with floor-to-ceiling painting of the great room, vestibule, stairway, and upper room. All this internal renovation work, coordinated so well by Matt Samolis and Alistair MacMartin, brought the Meetinghouse to a level of elegance and beauty never seen before in its long history.
Winter 2020-Fall 2022 – Work on pews
With major thanks to Paul Doud, our pews were refurbished and repaired, and able to be returned to the Meetinghouse space. Under the guidance of local furniture restorer, Sam Rodgers, many FWM volunteers cleaned and polished the old pews. And thanks to fabric donations from community member and artist Adrian Motagano, Cheri Martinez brought her experienced sewing skills into action to create new seat cushions for the pews.
Fall 2022 – Acoustic panels
Good sound for future Meetinghouse events has been a big priority. Thanks to FWM Board member and sound engineer Garrett Sawyer, our carpenter Friends built frames for acoustic panels to cover Meetinghouse walls. Volunteer crews added covers to the panels and helped hang them. Our new panels blend with the Meetinghouse décor while ensuring great sound for music, theater, and social gatherings.
Fall 2022 – Bringing in heat, working on the ceiling
Paul Voiland, omni-competent heating/cooling contractor, volunteered his time to hang, activate and maintain a large gas heater donated by the Montague Public Libraries in the Meetinghouse. With additional ceiling insulation help coordinated by Alistair MacMartin, For the first time in thirty years, the Meetinghouse has heat, to resume activities all year long.
And looking up at that heater, you can’t help but notice the beautiful beams donated by Jerry Barilla and touch up/carpentry work on the ceiling done by Lisa Pepin and Alistair MacMartin. (And yes, we still have the original tin ceiling tiles and crown molding – thanks to volunteer consultant Julia Rabin, we know the patterns on the ceiling are traces of our history – imprinted dust, smoke from the original stove, etc.)
Support the meetinghouse Renovations
Want to support our efforts to restore this beautiful building and open its doors to the public? Please consider joining our efforts by becoming a Friend and donating.
Additionally, if you are inspired by the possibilities and the work needed to open the Meetinghouse doors, please consider becoming a volunteer for one of many tasks we anticipate in the coming months. We look forward to your support!