December 2012 Update

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A happy holiday to everyone from the Board and Advisory Board of The Union Meeting House. We are buttoned up tight for the winter but before it got too cold workmen from Oakes & Parkhurst stained glass restorers came and took out the Nancy Hunton Atkinson memorial stained glass window. Over the past decades the bottom third had sagged badly and the entire sash was in danger of letting go. This would mean hundreds of pieces of broken glass on the ground and the loss of a beautiful window.
This past summer Mrs. Donna Page, a former Readfield girl and a Hunton descendant, donated $1,000 to have the window taken out and completely restored. Between Oakes & Parkhurst, which will repair the stained glass, and Joseph Caputo of East Pittston, who will scrap, prime, repair and paint the wooden casing and sashes, the window should be back in place by springtime. Our thanks for Mrs. Page for her thoughtfulness.
October was the Meeting House Board’s annual meeting. Elected to serve until October 2013 were: Marius B. Péladeau, president; Barbara Boenke, secretary; Donn Harriman, treasurer; and Florence Drake, Marianne and John Perry, Karen B. Peterson; Joan Wiebe and Milton R. Wright. On the Advisory Board are Dale Marie Potter Clark, Mary Jernigan, Brianne M. McNally and Evelyn A. Potter.
The newsletter to all members and donors is in the mail. If anyone else wants a copy let us know at 685-4537. The UMH is honored that the branches of The Bank of Maine in Readfield and Winthrop made a kind donation to sponsor this newsletter.

Getting Married Soon?

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                                                       Donna Hall photo, 5/18/2002
Amanda Clark & David Linton wedding at 
Readfield Union Meeting House. 
The trompe l’oeil art provided a 
beautiful backdrop for the wedding

Have you thought about reserving the Union Meeting House for your wedding? The setting could not be more beautiful – or historic. FMI email unionmeetinghouse@gmail.com.

Did you get married at the Union Meeting House? We want to include more pictures in the slideshow, on this website, of weddings performed at UMH. Email jpegs to unionmeetinghouse@gmail.com. Be sure to include names, dates and photographic credits.

“I knew from the time I was a little girl that I wanted to get married at the Union Meeting House because I always thought it was so beautiful inside. It was like a dream come true for me.” – Mandi Clark Linton, Readfield

The Dome has been Removed for VITAL Repairs!

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Readfield Union Meeting House made a big step yesterday! The dome was removed and stored so that VITAL repairs can be made. Thank you to the Lewiston Sun for covering the landmark event in both words and pictures!!

Donations are still needed and appreciated to complete this project and others – all vital to the survival of Readfield Union Meeting House! Read on to our next post to learn more about the projects we are undertaking to preserve UMH. To see more pictures of the event go to our “Repair and Restoration” slideshow. This slideshow will also give you an idea of how much work has been done over the past two years! You can also read more in the Lewiston Sun news article, along with their pictures,  by going to our MEDIA LINKS. Thank you, as always, for your support!

2012 Membership Drive ~ Your Support is Needed

Readfield Union Meeting House annual membership drive is underway. This year’s membership drive is more important than ever as in the year ahead we face some daunting tasks. If you have not received a letter and request from our Board of Directors do not hesitate – you can easily make your secure online donation today via the “DONATE HERE” button / link at the left of this screen.

Following is a letter from the UMH Board of Directors, who are seeking the support of members and donors:

June 2012

Dear Members and Friends

The membership year for the Union Meeting House comes to an end this month (June 2012) and a new one, filled with daunting tasks, begins. We must succeed to reach a major step in saving the steeple. If we fail the future of the building is very uncertain. The past four years have seen progress, due in great part to the willingness of our members and friends to support the restoration efforts.
This is going to be an important year for the building. One of the most expert steeplejacks examined the steeple last fall and confirmed what Ernest Bracy was told more than 25 years ago – there are many seriously rotted beams in the steeple. Its entire stability is threatened. We don’t have to spell out the consequences of what will happen if we fail to act quickly. Everyone can see the poor condition of the clapboards on the tower, the badly eroded clock dials and the Roman numerals on the dial beginning to come off. Portions of the metal roof on the dome are flying off in the wind and falling to the ground like leaves off a tree. These are merely experior evidence of a more serious deteroration inside.
The first step is for a crane to remove the entire rotted, leaking dome. While the crane is on site the bell and its cradle will be taken out since ultimately the metal belfry roof, on which the bell sits has to be taken up and replaced. A new belfry roof will make the structure water tight.
This is only the initial step. The years of water dripping down into the steeple have rotted the majority of the structural beams that hold the belfry and clock tower together. The majority will have to be replaced. These are huge timbers and it will be a major, expensive undertaking to remove the rotted ones and to insert the new timbers while working around the clock mechanism. Naturally the cost will be huge. These first two steps to save the steeple will be close to $110,000 ($30,000 for Phase I and $80,000 for Phase II later). That may seem daunting, but the Board thinks it is a feasible goal and one we can reach over several years with community support.
Yes, this multi-year project will be the most ambitious and most costly undertaking in the Meeting House’s 184 year history. Encouraged by past support, the Board believes that the community shares in the significance of preserving this magnificent historical structure in the Town of Readfield. PLEASE renew your membership or, if you have not given before, join with a first-time gift so that the first step we have outlined above can be done in 2012.

Sincerely yours,
The Board of The Readfield Union Meeting House
Marius Pelideau, President
Barbara Boenke, Secretary
Donn Harriman, Treasurer
Florence Drake, Marianne Perry, John Perry, Karen B. Peterson, Joan Wiebe and Milton R. Wright
The Advisory Board of The Readfield Union Meeting House
Dale Marie Potter Clark, Holly H. Dumaine, Mary Jernigan, Brianne M. McNally and Evelyn A. Potter

Membership Annual Dues:
$25   Single
$45   Family
$15   Student
$75   Patron
$100 Benefactor
$150 Sponsor
$250 Life Fellow
$250 Corporate

Please contact us for special named gifts to the Meeting House. Naming opportunities include the steeple, windows. replica carpet and bell. There are other projects that could be accomplished with an earmarked gift and could help move the restoration forward. We would like to talk to you about these opportunities. If you wish for information on these additional opportunities please contact Marius Peladeau (contact info below).

You can easily mail your donation to:
Readfield Union Meeting House
c/o 158 Thorpe Shores

We thank you in advance for your kind consideration and generosity!

New handicap ramp installed at Readfield Union Meeting House

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The extension of the handicapped ramp at the Union Meeting House was undertaken by (left to right) Jason Wheeler of Fayette, Nathan James of Monmouth (James & Wheeler) with the assistance of Byron Hewitt of Farmington. They demonstrated excellent workmanship. The ramp will be stained in the spring.

November 2011 Updates

The warm fall allowed the Board of the Union Meeting House to complete a few projects before the snow flies. When the re-grading of the entire lot by Reay Construction took place it was necessary to remove the “hump” of an old septic system that was allowing rain water to drain back under the foundation. When the dirt was taken away the handicapped ramp no longer fit. To follow Federal guidelines the ramp had to be extended to provide the proper pitch for handicapped persons.

The contract was put out to bid and James & Wheeler, local builders, submitted the low bid. They did the work, using pressure-treated lumber, in early November and the finished product meets everyone’s expectation. Thank you, Nathan and Jason. Chris Dumaine of Mt. Vernon had earlier rehabilitated and painted the original part of the ramp and he will do the same for the new addition next spring.

The Board hopes that everyone has driven past the Meeting House to see the attractive new sign. Mr. Dumaine will also stain the sign posts in the spring. Thanks again to Reay Construction for the installation of the sign as a donation to the UMH. Inside, all the splintered and rotted window sills have been repaired and repainted.

This fall the Board commissioned two steeplejack firms to study the building’s steeple. Their reports confirmed earlier studies done previous years – there is substantial rot through the entire steeple and the large hole at the top of the dome is causing havoc as the rain water enters into the top of the steeple. We’ll be reporting in more detail in a coming Messenger on what they found to be the problems. The cost will be enormous. Be prepared for sticker shock.

October 2011 Updates

It has been a busy and productive fall at the Union Meeting House (“the Brick Church”) on Church Road. Thanks to a generous gift from a descendant, a Memorial Window in memory of the late Mrs. Elizabeth Dumaine Clarke of Kents Hill was restored in late August. Her grandson, Christopher Dumaine of Mt. Vernon, provided the funds which made possible the total rehabilitation of one of the large stenciled glass windows in the sanctuary. Now it fittingly bears a brass plaque with Mrs. Clarke’s name.

Many Readfield residents remember Mrs. Clarke and her husband who operated a large dairy farm on the Old Kents Hill Road for many years. After having been in place since 1868 the window had received no attention. The painted surface had worn away, most of the putty holding in the glass panes had turned to dust and some of the sashes and the outside casing were rotted or broken. Restorer Joseph Caputo of East Pittston took out the sashes and removed them to his workshop where every pane of glass was removed, wood repairs undertaken and then each pane reset in new putty before a complete priming and painting.

The Board of The Meeting House extends its thanks to Mr. Dumaine for his extreme generosity.

Thanks to a major grant from the Quimby Family Foundation the Board was able to call for bids from local contractors to re-grade the entire Meeting House lot. The award went to the low bidder, Reay Excavation of Readfield. In September the firm removed an old septic system, which was causing drainage problems and a pump station installed underground to send all waste up to a newer septic field in back of the Old Vestry. Then dirt which had piled up around the foundation was taken away and the entire lot sloped so that now there is the proper drainage away from the building. A final layer of topsoil, crushed rock under the eaves, and a membrane that is underground to protect the foundation completed the work. Already the new grass is springing up and the change is evident. The Board thanks Mr. and Mrs. Reay for their professional work.

And, as extra bonus, while the equipment was on the lot, Mr. and Mrs. Reay installed the brand new Meeting House sign along Church Road free of charge as a donation to the Meeting House. This gesture is much appreciated. In October the sign posts will be cut off at the top and decorative caps installed.

Thanks also to the students from Kents Hill, led by Joy Bonnefond, who came down at the end of the month to rake leaves and tidy up the Meeting House grounds.

Residents of Readfield are reminded that all meetings of the Meeting House Board and Advisory Board are open to the public. The next meeting will be October 20 at 6:L30 p.m. on the second floor of the Town Office.

The membership is half completed. If you have not renewed we’d appreciate your continued support. Our mailing address is: 158 Thorp Shores Rd., Readfield 04355.

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Doug Riley, the civil engineer who designed the re-grading of the Union Meeting House lot, and Mr. Linwood Reay, the contractor who successfully carried out Mr. Riley’s plans, talk while the work was underway last month. The project was the first step in a restoration of the building.

 

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Christopher Dumaine of Mt. Vernon affixes a brass to the window at the Union Meeting House in memory of his grandmother, Mrs. Elizabeth Dumaine Clarke of Readfield. A very generous gift from Chris and Holly Dumaine made possible the restoration of the beautiful window.

 

Restoration and Repair Updates ~ September 2011

The restoration of one of the rare stenciled glass windows was made possible from a donation by Mr. and Mrs. Christopher Dumaine of Mt. Vernon. The completed project will be dedicated to the memory of Mr. Dumaine’s mother, Mrs. Yvonne Dumaine, a log-time resident of Readfield. In this photo the restorer, Mr. Joseph Caputo of East Pittston is re-installing the sash weights.

The Nickerson Family stained glass window was restored in early September thanks to a generous gift from the three children of Louise Nickerson Meggison who lived for many years in the family homestead o Nickerson Hill road. The Board of the Meeting House thanks Mrs. Mary Meggison Duntley and her brothers, Glynn and David Meggison for their generous support.

Mr. Lenny Reay, a Readfield contractor, started the major project of re-grading the Meeting House to resolve serious water infiltration into the church’s interior. The project also involves work on resolving another problem caused by an improperly sited septic tank. Here Mr. Reay is removing the handcapped ramp so that the old septic tank can be removed. This undertaking is being funded by a major grant from the Quimby Family Foundation.

September 2011 Updates

The Union Meeting House Board of Trustees moved ahead on several fronts during August. A good turn-out for the Open House on the Saturday of Heritage Days introduced the beautiful building to some new persons in town and gave others a chance to become acquainted with the restoration the Board is undertaking. One lady from Florida, who summers in Mt. Vernon, came back to see the church where she was married many years ago. Thanks to Ev Potter, Mary Jernigan and Marius Peladeau who gave tours to the public. The UMH Board thanks Karen Dubé for selecting the Union Meeting House for the front of the Heritage Days T-shirt. Buy one at the Town Office and support the fine work of the Heritage Days Committee.

The restoration of another window has been made possible by a generous gift from a couple with deep Readfield ties. The sashes were removed in August and are currently being restored.The names of the donors will be announced when the window is re-dedicated this fall.

To prepare for the re-grading of the lot which will take place any day now, Holly Dumaine, a member of the Advisory Board, her son, Chris, and Board member Joan Wiebe spent time and effort to move all the flowers that landscaped the front of the building. They were put in pots and moved to the side of the lot so they can be put back in place once the re-grading is completed. The work on removing the old moth-infested cushions mention in the August Messenger is nearly complete. The cushions were taken to the recycle center and dumped, the cushions were dry cleaned and new foam inserts cut to order. It was found that some of the slip covers did not have zippers so the old cushions could not be removed. They were slit along the seams and new zippers will be installed once they are cleaned. Totaling all the expenses this project cost over $1,500, an unexpected outlay at this time with so many other priorities facing the Board in the face. (Remember, please renew your membership for 2011-2012.)

The family of Ruth Townsend requested that gifts in her memory could be made to the Union Meeting House, which she had loved with so much dedication for so many years. The Board thanks those who have made gifts to date. The Board extends its condolences to her family. These gifts will go immediately to help pay for operating expenses, such as covering the cost of the cushion work.

Members of the Nickerson Family, of Nickerson Hill Road (naturally), were in town in August and stopped by the church so that the UMH and the Readfield Historical Society could interview them about their family memories. Mrs. Mary J. Meggison Duntley, and her brothers, Glynn and David, have pledged gifts to restore the Nickerson stained glass window in memory of their mother, Mrs. Louise Nickerson Meggison of Readfield. The Board is most appreciative of this family’s dedication to preserving the window which commemorates the importance of the Nickerson family name in town.

Last, but not least – and of major importance – is the visit to the UMH by Aaron Sturges of Preservation Timber Framing, Inc., of Berwick, who is widely known as an expert in the repair and preservation of timber-framed buildings, especially church steeples. He has restored numerous steeples over the past decades, the ones closest to Readfield being in Yarmouth and Damariscotta. In Maine the firm has also restored steeples in York, Gorham and Brunswick. The Board is looking forward to receiving Mr. Sturges’ assessment of the damage the UMH steeple has suffered over the years from infiltrating water. Serious rot can be seen throughout the clock tower, belfry and dome which caps the steeple. Once the Board has cost estimates on hand, the process of fund-raising will commence. This will be a major undertaking, the most costly and ambitious project facing the Meeting House at present.