Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Raising high the roof beams in Brewster















Brewster's First Parish Church
Photo credit: http://www.susanspencerartandword.com/


It's not quite as old as Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum building, which celebrates its 200th birthday next year, but it's just as iconic and well-loved by local residents.

The Meeting House, otherwise known as the First Parish Church of Brewster in our sister-town on Cape Cod, with its white clapboard and steeple so typical of New England places of worship, regularly features in paintings and photographs like this fine one taken by local resident Susan Spencer.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the restoration of the Cape Cod town's 176-year-old landmark building was held on 26 October but work in earnest on the $1.3m project will not start until January 2011.

The current building, dating from 1834, replaced earlier structures and over the years has suffered from many problems including water ingress and insect damage, which has resulted in deterioration of the timber skeleton. But Brewster residents and many others have rallied round to raise funds for the renovation work. The current congregation of the First Parish Church has pledged nearly $600,000 and further donations have come from residents who want to ensure the future of one of Brewster's best known landmarks.

The non-profit Brewster Meeting House Preservation Project comprising a committee of interested citizens is overseeing the renovation. The group is keen for people to know how the history of the building was linked to the story of New England's early settlers in the late 17th century, and how in those days the church was much more than a place of worship. It was the town hall, where town meetings took place, as well as being the local court house. "It served as the moral and legal center of the town."



Special buildings like Brewster's First Parish Church and Budleigh Salterton's recently re-thatched Fairlynch, right, are always worth preserving. I was shocked to learn that only 40 years ago, before it was bought for the town as a museum there were some who believed that Fairlynch should be demolished, such was its dilapidated state.



The renovation work on this landmark in Budleigh Salterton's sister-town has attracted much attention in local media and there are some informative articles at http://www.wickedlocal.com/brewster/features/x402457243/Meetinghouse-marks-milestone-year and http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100524/NEWS/5240316

The Brewster Meeting House Preservation Project's website is at http://www.bmhpp.org/

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