Church to celebrate 171 years, restoration
By Lucia Suarez
STAFF WRITER | January 26,2013
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Wells will celebrate completion of a four-year restoration project Sunday.
WELLS — When the Rev. William Davidson took over as vicar of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Wells close to four years ago, the church’s tower was rotting, the foundation was shaky, and it had no bathrooms or running water.
On Sunday, Davidson, along with the church’s congregation, will celebrate the completion of a four-year project to repair and restore the exterior of the church building. It will also be the celebration of the 171st year since the church was erected.
“They started raising money and getting help from the Vermont Trust for Historic Preservation and the Vermont Division of Historic Preservation,” Davidson said. “They hired an architect, Tom Keefe, and he came up with plans.”
He added: “When it started, it was just a handful of people, then we had a lot of help from the community. ... People have a lot of fond memories about coming to church.”
The church tower was the first component to be repaired and they went from there. The walls were repainted, the foundation was strengthened and the windows were repaired according to their original design when the church was first built.
“We were able to keep the original glass that was not broken or cracked,” Davidson said. “It’s great.”
The most recent part of the project is a group of newly fashioned lamps that are being installed in the front deck. They were designed by a company in West Rupert in an 1840s style.
“We were hoping to have them up by Sunday,” Davidson said.
For running water and bathrooms, the church has a new parish house that also offers space for meetings.
“The building now looks exactly how it did when it was built, except for a front porch we needed to build for wheelchairs,” Davidson said. “It looks like it did.”
But the work will not end there. Small projects will be completed inside the church, and the vicar also wants to modify the parish house and open the bottom floor for a large meeting space.
“We hope to in the future meet the needs of the people,” Davidson said. “There has been a big community spirit throughout (the project). We would like to do more.”
To celebrate the building’s restoration, a special service conducted by the Rev. Thomas Ely, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese, will start at 9 a.m. The church will be rededicated on its 171st birthday.