Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Derry’s First Parish Meetinghouse Rehabilitation Project

First Parish Meetinghouse under restoration
as seen from Forest Hill Cemetery

There have been several developments in the rehabilitation of the meetinghouse over the last few months.  Last summer I posted a blog post about the main structure, which was raised up for a replacement  foundation, sills, and structural work.   This work was completed, and the building was successfully set down on the new foundation walls.  A new connecting building has been constructed between the historic meetinghouse and the Noyes building, where the congregation has been gathering for worship whilst this project continues.  The new connector will eventually have a large elevator, staircase and a new entry lobby, which will make the entire building handicapped accessible at all levels.

The new connecting addition between the
main Meetinghouse and the Noyes building

In December 2016 the parish community received a $59,000 LCHIP grant for the meetinghouse roof.  The New Hampshire LCHIP’s (Land and Community Heritage Investment Program) is a matching grant program to preserve cultural and historic resources.    This roof work will be completed this summer, replacing the damaged 1880s slate roof tiles as needed, strengthen the roof structure, and other repairs.  Back in 2015 this project received its first LCHIP award of $125,000 to start the project.

The LCHIP grant will help restore the slate roof

The 300th anniversary of the founding of Nutfield  by Rev. James MacGregor and his congregation from  Aghadowey, Northern Ireland will be 2019.  In less than two years the rehabilitation of the First Parish meetinghouse needs to be completed.  According to Paul Lindemann, a church member and a member of the rehabilitation committee, there is a lot of work left to do.  Besides the roof work, the steeple needs to be brought back and replaced above the tower.  The connecting structure needs to be completed. Then the interior refurbishment will begin.  It would be nice if the bell in the steeple could ring in the celebrations for the 300th anniversary.

First Parish will be launching a fundraising campaign for the completion of the meetinghouse rehabilitation.  This building is a historic part of Derry, and a symbol of Nutfield.  The first sermon by Rev. MacGregor was preached nearby.  The first framed building was the meetinghouse which was built on the lawn of the current building, which was constructed in 1769.  It has served as the meetinghouse, town hall, church and community center for the town for almost 300 years.  The First Parish meeting house was placed on the National Register of Historic places in 1982.

Many genealogy tours, historic activities, Nutfield Anniversary and early colonial family reunions are being planned for 2019, and the First Parish Meetinghouse will be at the center of these activities .  Stay tuned to this blog for more information, and check the progress of the rehabilitation at the websites listed below.

For the truly curious:

Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “Steeple renovations for the First Parish Church, East Derry, New Hampshire”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted September 17, 2015, https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2015/09/steeple-renovations-for-first-parish.html

Heather Wilkinson Rojo, “First Parish Church of Derry, about to be raised for foundation repairs”, Nutfield Genealogy, posted May 13, 2016,   https://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2016/05/first-church-of-derry-about-to-be.html

First Parish Congregational Church  http://fpc-ucc.org/  

Photos and Video of the Rehabilitation project

The Nutfield History website   http://www.nutfieldhistory.org/  

LCHIP website   http://www.lchip.org/    


Heather Wilkinson Rojo, "Derry’s First Parish Meetinghouse Rehabilitation Project", Nutfield Genealogy, posted February 7, 2017, (http://nutfieldgenealogy.blogspot.com/2017/02/derrys-first-parish-meetinghouse.html: accessed [access date]). 

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