Monday, November 28, 2011

New handicap ramp installed at Readfield Union Meeting House

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.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

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.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

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. (Please see picture below)
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. (Please see the picture below)
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.
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.

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.

Monday, September 5, 2011

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 beng funded by aq major grant from the Quimby Family Foundation.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

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.

Monday, July 25, 2011

August 2011 Updates

During Heritage Days weekend the Union Meeting House will be open to the public for guided tours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 13. There will be docents present to point out the wonderful features of the building and explain why it was placed on The National Register of Historic Places as a cultural, historic and artistic landmark. Come and pay a visit.
Karen Dube of Heritage Days has selected the Meeting House as the “illustration” for the annual Heritage Days T-Shirt. While the UMH does not benefit financially, it does focus attention on the Meeting House as a significant Readfield historical building. Buy a Heritage Days T-Shirt and draw attention on the UMH. The Board thanks Mrs. Dube for her efforts.
Soon after Heritage Days residents will see heavy equipment and workmen around the building. In July the Board advertised for bids to re-grade the lot to prevent serious drainage problems and it awarded the low bid to Reay Construction & Trucking in Readfield. When the Board had an assessment of the building done in 2009 the serious drainage problems were noted as the very first priority that had to be tackled before building restoration could proceed.
The work will be done with a generous grant received in 2010 from the Quimby Family Foundation. Besides the reconfiguration of the lot the project will include important septic system improvements and work on the two sets of granite front steps that have cracked and badly shifted over the past decades, leading to additional foundation and drainage problems. When everything is completed it will appear as though all that has been accomplished is a nice newly seeded lawn, but close inspection will reveal a major step forward. The Board thanks the Quimby Family Foundation for its faith in its efforts to restore the UMH.
For years the building has been infected with thousands (???millions) of moths and spraying efforts did not solve the problem. In July we were advised to remove all 114 slip covers that had been placed over the original cushions because the moths were living and reproducing at a great rate inside these cushions. All the covers were taken to Rotary Cleaners in Augusta for dry cleaning. The Meeting House thanks owner Paul Poulin for doing this work at a reduced rate. The old cushions were dumped and new comfortable foam cushions were custom cut in Lewiston. Now all that has to be done is get a crew of willing helpers to stuff the foam into the covers. Hopefully this project, which cost over $1,300, will solve the moth problem forever.

FMI contact the UMH at: 158 Thorp Shores, Readfield 04355; (207) 685-4537
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 2011 Update

Spring has arrived and the Union Meeting House is making plans for summer work. The restorer, Joseph Caputo, has taken the sashes out of the last window on the southern side of the building to his restoration workshop in East Pittston. The panes broken by a falling tree limb last fall will be replaced and the two sashes scraped, primed, puttied and repainted. In addition a kind gift from a generous donor will allow Mr. Caputo to tackle the second window on the north side and restore it completely, including the casing and sill. This is progress but many more windows need immediate attention.
We gratefully accept donations to assist with ongoing restoration projects. For your convenience a donation can be made online - see the "Donate Here" button in the left column of this screen. We thank you for your generous support!