hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

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December 5, 2013

Neighbors win ownership of historic building

Are eligible for money to repair East Parish Meeting House

(Continued)

That gives the property to the society, which can now seek grants and begin restoration work.

Up until now, the society has raised a few hundred dollars here and there through auctions and mailings.

Grants would bring the group much more money, however.

“In May 2013, with the assistance of Representative Brian Dempsey, we were awarded a grant of $29,700 in Secretary of State Historic Property Emergency Repair Funds,’’ Roffo said in her email, “specifically to remedy animal infestation in the building and to also complete internal drywall repairs.

“But we could not receive the funding without a deed or legal proof of Ownership, which eventually led to tonight’s request,’’ she said of last week’s council meeting.

“We searched deeds and even probate records way back to the 1700s with the assistance of many people including Registry of Deeds staff,’’ Roffo’s email said. “We found documentation that the Whittier Family originally owned the land where the meeting house was first built by parishioners in 1744 on the south side of Turkey Hill.

The original Meeting House building lasted almost 100 years, until the current building was built in 1838 on the same site.’’

The original one-and-a-half story wood-frame building was constructed about 1838 in the Greek Revival style. It was first used as a Congregationalist church, but eventually became a non-denominational house of worship, Roffo said.

The building’s appeal lies in its unaltered condition and the fact that it still has no electrical power or central heating system.

The building’s bell, created in 1848 for Haverhill’s then-Town Hall, was placed at the meeting house in 1861.

The meeting house is registered on the national and state Register of Historic Places since 2011.

It also holds a place on the Most Endangered Historic Places list.

ABOUT EAST PARISH MEETING HOUSE

Built: About 1838

Location: 150 Middle Road

Original use: Congregationalist church

Purpose: Replaced original meeting house built in 1744

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