As we look forward to 2017, let’s recap all the projects that were accomplished in 2016. It was a very busy year for our small group of volunteers, but we are pleased with the progress made at the East Grafton Union Church and the carding mill. Those projects are outlined below.
Many of these updates are included in our 2016 annual newsletter, which is mailed to all members and available in the museum. We encourage new membership and hope to see our numbers grow in the next year.
For fundraisers this year, we held our annual spring ham and bean supper at the town hall, joined forces with the library to host a yard sale, and celebrated five years of our Race to Save the Mill. Between these events and the generous contributions of members, neighbors, and friends, we are in a good financial position for another year of progress.
In the spring, we learned that our nomination of two historic markers was approved by the state. Unfortunately, staffing changes at the DOT and Division of Historical Resources has delayed those markers’ installation. We anticipate a spring 2017 ceremony which will highlight the history of Dr. Sarah Jennie Barney and East Grafton’s industrialization.
East Grafton Union Church
With an LCHIP deadline nearing, we spent most of our energies trying to wrap up the restoration of the East Grafton Union Church. The rotted sills, joists, and subfloor were repaired or replaced in kind throughout the winter; the site work, including a new drainage system and tree clearing, was completed throughout the summer; the interior was painted the original yellow color; the choir loft was re-opened; the c.1840 floorboards were refinished; and plaster repairs were made in the choir loft.
We still have to install the restored window sashes and apply stenciling to the sanctuary walls. In total, the restoration efforts cost nearly $85,000. An open house is planned for the late spring of 2017. Stay tuned!
Upcoming projects at the East Grafton Union Church include restoring the balance of the windows, painting the bell tower, and planning programming that will introduce people to the beautiful space. Even further down the road, we hope to have a restroom on site.
Thanks to a grant from the Byrne Foundation and proceeds from Races to Save the Mill, we hired local carpenter Ken Anderson (who generously donated much of his labor) to continue replacing the rotted members of the mill’s post and beam frame.
Ken also constructed a new stairwell that meets code, a new set of stairs to the front doors, and a turbine pit roof. For the first time in decades, the mill is now structurally sound and weathertight! We also had two custom windows made for the façade. These window sashes are currently curing and will be installed in the spring. Thanks to a donation from the Frothingham Family, the mill also received a turbine, which will be re-installed in the turbine pit.
In 2017, we expect to build off of the restoration momentum by raising funds to completely restore the exterior. This includes sheathing, clapboards, and windows. One of our biggest hurdles is determining a sympathetic use for the mill – we welcome suggestions from the community.