Just as the Dave Mallett concert in July added to the Meeting House’s restoration fund so did the Antiques Appraisal Day in mid-September. The Meeting House is still receiving membership income from those residents of Readfield it solicited in June and it is not too late to send in your annual dues. The expenses the building faces in the coming years will be considerable and the treasury needs to be augmented.
In the past weeks people going up and down Church have noticed workmen around the building. When the professional assessment of the Meeting House was done a year ago, along with a host of other problems, it was mentioned that the repair of the rare stenciled glass and stained glass windows had been too long deferred. In fact there exists an old newsletter sent out in 1993 by Ernest Bracy, then Board president, that immediate work was needed on the sashes. Unfortunately not much was done 10 or 15 years ago although a couple of windows received some preliminary attention. The Church has 17 windows, some 12 feet tall with two 6 foot sashes. The Board felt it was desirable to start pecking away on the windows although its first and most important need at this point is to re-grade the site to prevent rain and snow melt from flowing into the basement and rotting the floor substructure. As a result, a contract was let in September to Joseph Caputo, a master builder in East Pittston, to start work on the five most endangered windows. These are the two in the apse and the three in the front of the church. His was the low bid and he is a thorough professional, having worked previously on old buildings. The Board had an earlier quote of over $2,500 to restore each of the three windows in the façade. It cannot afford this $7,500 cost at this time.
Therefore it was suggested that each of the window casings (the wooden frame that holds the sashes) be scraped, primed and painted in the authentic red/brown color has always distinguished the Meeting House, and then cover these repaired casings with Plexiglass. This would keep the weather away from the delicate, tender sashes and buy time until more money can be raised to take out the sashes and remove them to a restoration studio. There they could be stripped of old paint, the badly weathered wooden frames repaired and the old glass then inserted and reglazed. A final coat of primer and two of paint would finish the job. This major undertaking, to cost many thousands of dollars, will have to await a major fund-raising drive. But in the meantime the plexiglass covered will keep the sashes from further deterioration.
It should also be mentioned that the costs above are for the stenciled glass windows. The price quotes for the restoration of the stained glass windows is even more expensive. Fortunately, just as this “Messenger” was to go to press the Meeting House Board received word from The National Trust for Historic Preservation that it would provide the Meeting House with an “Emergency Intervention Grant” to cover the cost of Mr. Caputo’s work. The Meeting House will matcvh these funds by paying for the Plexiglass installation. The Trust’s Intervention Grants are for just such badly needed emergency repairs. It saves the five threatened windows from having to go through
another Maine winter unprotected.