Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cavendish Universalist “Stone” Church

At Town Meeting on March 4, voters will decide on the following article To see if the voters will accept the gift of the historic Universalist Stone Church property located at 2295 Main Street, Cavendish, Vermont 05142 from the Universalist Unitarian Convention of Vermont and Quebec. This building would be owned by the Town of Cavendish and leased to the Cavendish Historical Society for use as museum and exhibit space.

Built in 1844, the Cavendish Stone Church is a recognized landmark and appears on both the state and national historic registries. The church was decommissioned in the 1960’s and was leased to the Cavendish Historical Society (CHS) in the 1970’s. While work has been done to maintain the building, it is in need of repairs. Without grant funding, it will be difficult to make these repairs, and without the town owning the building, grant funds will not be forthcoming. 

The Universalist Unitarian Convention of Vermont and Quebec has agreed to deed the building to the town of Cavendish on May 11, 2013

The town does not tax the building, and this will not change when the deed is transferred to the town.

Intended Purpose
• CHS plans to use the building to house the permanent Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn exhibit as well as turn it into a small venue space suitable for concerts, lectures, theater etc.

• Occupancy would be limited to 49 people, as there is only one way in and out.

Implementation Process
• A committee has been formed to oversee the restoration and use of this building. The members of this committee include: Margo Caulfield, Dan Churchill, April Hensil, Mike Pember, Rich Svec and Rolf Van Schaik.

• A Master Facilities Plan will be developed and updated yearly.

Initial Recommendations by Preservation Trust of Vermont
• On February 26, a field representative of the Trust site visited the building and met with the Restoration Committee. The building is in “remarkable” shape and can continue to be used while repairs are made.

• The major work on the exterior of the building will be the cupola. As it appears this is the original paint and wallpaper, this should be maintained as much as possible. Insulation and heating it during the winter months is not recommended. Instead, it should function as other buildings of this nature in the state, from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.

• The Trust will work the town’s committee to help: identify funds, write the Master Facilities Plan and select qualified restorers to work on the building.  

Other than paying for insurance, there is no cost to the taxpayer for this project.

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