Nonprofit to purchase, restore historic Grafton Center Meetinghouse

  • The Grafton Center Meetinghouse along Route 4 in seen last summer. Photos courtesy of Cheryl Senter

  • A newly formed nonprofit, Mascoma Valley Preservation, signed a purchase and sale agreement to buy the Grafton meetinghouse, which has been in disrepair for years.

Valley News
Published: 6/17/2019 4:25:07 PM

A preservation group hoping to save and restore the fire-damaged former Grafton Center Meetinghouse is a step closer to its goals.

Officials with Mascoma Valley Preservation on Sunday evening signed a purchase-and-sale agreement with Peaceful Assembly Church to buy the historic landmark, which was built in 1797-98 and heavily damaged by a fire in January 2016.

Andrew Cushing, the president of the preservation group, said they agreed to buy the old meetinghouse for about $7,000, with a closing expected to happen on or by July 6.

“We’re about halfway there. We need about $4,000 more,” he said Monday. “We’re pretty confident we can raise that.”

The group also plans to petition Grafton residents at Town Meeting next year to waive back taxes and fees owed on the building, which could be more than $20,000, Cushing said.

But acquiring the meetinghouse now will allow Mascoma Valley Preservation to begin taking steps to protect and restore the church, which an engineer earlier this year said poses a “significant hazard to public safety” in its current form.

Parts of the old meetinghouse, which was bought by Peaceful Assembly Church in 2010, have been exposed to the elements since the 2016 fire, which killed church founder John Connell and damaged the roof, walls and bell tower.

Cushing said his group wants to get “momentum” going before going to Town Meeting to ask for the waiver.

“We’re expecting by then there will be a temporary roof on the building, and people will see progress, and we’re confident voters will see it’s a cost-effective measure and a way to get the building moving forward,” Cushing said.

The meetinghouse was listed as one of the “Seven to Save” by the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance in 2017.

The Mascoma preservation group has said it wants the building to again be community space, and perhaps a library.

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