Church
Church

About


The Church of the Unity, founded and built by Winchendon’s most prominent families, has presided over downtown Winchendon for over 150 years. Now called the Unitarian Universalist Church of Winchendon, the building hosts community and religious services.

The ravages of New England weather, time and water have taken their toll on this beautiful structure. Major repairs to the stonework are urgently needed. Set in Stone is the church's capital campaign to raise money for this purpose.

Wear & Tear


A casual walk around the big gray church quickly reveals the damage the granite stonework has suffered from years of wind, sun, rain and extreme temperature changes. Many mortar joints are in a state of disrepair, with the mortar filling either cracked or completely missing. All of this needs to be replaced and/or refilled.

In 2015, UUCW contracted with the engineering firm Structures North of Salem, Massachusetts to conduct a visual survey of the church. They produced a detailed report showing the type and extent of deterioration across the entire building exterior. A color-coded map of their findings is posted here. It shows damage ranging from cracked and missing mortar, to bulging or shifted stones, to cracks in the stones themselves. The damage is scattered throughout the building, with the most severe damage resting in the church tower and front entryway.

Contact Us


UUCW
126 Central St.
P.O. Box 218
Winchendon, MA 01475
Email: info@set-in-stone.org
Phone: (978) 297-0554

News


June 1, 2020, 9:00 pm - Joseph Gnazzo Company, Inc. returned to UUCW today for one more week of stonework repair. The last vestiges of the Phase 1 funds are being used to seal the long coping stones that cap off the tall front gable, and repair a bulging section of granite blocks near the bell tower. This time, the work can be accomplished with only one worker in a bucket lift, instead of the multi-story scaffolding required last fall. No fear of heights for this mason!

Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund Application Submitted!
March 16, 2020, 4:00 pm - Today we submitted an application to the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MCP) for a Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF) grant to continue onward with our stonework repair. MPPF is a 50% reimbursable matching grant program, and we have a pledge from the Robinson-Broadhurst Foundation for the other 50%. MHC receives between 40-50 requests each year, and competition can be stiff. UUCW made a compelling case for the historic significance of our church and the community service it provides.
The grant process is rigorous, requiring legal attestations, detailed photographic documentation, a commitment to enter into a Preservation Restriction (see Mar 3 blog post below), and a copy of the original hand-written deed, signed by Ephraim Murdock Jr.
The application also asked for letters of community support. We were most grateful to obtain letters from the Winchendon History and Cultural Center, the Agricultural Commission, the Community Action Committee  Toy Town AA, Winchendon Winds, and the Winchendon Historic Commission. We thank all of these folks for their kind words.
All in all, we required a two-inch binder to compile the application! Our fingers are crossed; MHC will notify all applicants of their decisions in late June.

UUCW Approves Preservation Restriction
March 3, 2020, 4:06 pm - For the next phase of stonework repair, UUCW will be seeking financial assistance from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund (MPPF), administered by the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MCP). MPPF is a state-funded 50% reimbursable matching grant program established in 1984 to support the preservation of properties, landscapes, and sites listed in the State Register of Historic Places. Our church is listed in the Winchendon Village National Historic District and is thus eligible for this type of grant.

Because the State is investing in historic property preservation, they require grant recipients to place a “Preservation Restriction” on their property deed in perpetuity. This will limit the amount and type of future changes that can be made to the property without prior permission from MCP.

The Governing Board deliberated carefully about this requirement at their meeting on February 9, and concluded that in the foreseeable future, UUCW is unlikely to make changes drastic enough to be limited by a Preservation Restriction. The Board voted unanimously to approve the Preservation Restriction commitment. At present this is only a commitment, contingent upon successful MPPF funding. UUCW will be notified of MHC’s funding decision by late June.

The statute covering Preservation Restriction can be found at:
malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/...