The Union Meeting House – or as older folks in town will remember it – The Brick Church is moving ahead. At the April Board meeting the new membership brochure was approved and is now off to the printer. When Ernest Bracy oversaw the Meeting House he had a membership program and sent out occasional newsletters. On his death it lapsed but now the Board and Advisory Board have decided to resurrect the membership program since they have received inquiries on how citizens of Readfield and surrounding towns can support the Meeting House which so obviously shows it needs upkeep. We will have more details on the membership drive in our next report in the “Messenger.”
One of the big problems confronting the building is the lot on which it stands. Although at first glance it appears to be elevated on a little knoll, after 183 years water and snow coming off the roof has eroded a ditch at ground level. Thus, the water is not draining away from the building but is seeping back under the foundation and into the crawl space. This keeps everything under the floor very damp and, as a result, the framing timbers that hold up the floor are rotting and the floor and pews are sagging. In addition the way the lot slopes up rather than down in the back of the church causes rain water to flood into the basement.
Mr. Doug Riley, a talented professional civil engineer (at 22 Church Rd.), has most kindly offered his services to fix this problem. He will survey the lot and come up with a new site plan that will completely repitch the grade. Then, he will draw up a set of specifications so that the Meeting House can put out to bid the job of regrading the land. This will also necessitate the removal of a septic field at the front of the church which has too high a mound, and of pumping the septic flow up back into the septic system in back of St. Andrews Mission. Hopefully local contractors will be able to come forward to do the work and help the Meeting House solve this serious problem. There is no use replacing the floor until we solve the dampness problem. It is obvious to all that since the floor holds up the walls, repairing the floor framing members is of the highest priority or else we stand the chance of damaging the beautiful painted murals on the walls.
The entire Board extends its deep appreciation to Mr. Riley for offering to do this work at no cost to the Meeting House. His extreme interest in saving the Meeting House is pleasing to the Board since it indicates that town folk recognize the importance of saving this building for future generations. While the Board is handing out thanks, it wants to mention that Ron Simons, the talented photographer on the Winthrop Road, known to all in town, has taken professional photographs of the Meeting House’s glorious interior. He also donated his services and this is much welcome. Naturally, every penny the Board can save can be applied to the restoration. Mr. Simon’s photographs will be useful as the Board seeks funds to conserve the Brick Church. Having these pictures available to send to a Foundation far out of town shows what the Meeting House looks like much better than mere words. Thanks to Mr. Simons and Mr. Riley.