Group contemplates church building's future


CLARENDON — Anna Towle said she's convinced the North Clarendon Chapel has shrunk. "When I was a kid it was an awful lot bigger," said the 75-year-old from behind a table where she was selling vegetables Saturday on behalf of Friends of the North Clarendon Chapel. "My mother used to teach Sunday school. There were seven of us kids who used to come. ... Our minister was Mrs. Baker, Christina Baker. She used to be a missionary to India." The Friends were offering tours of the building and soliciting ideas from the community about what should be done with it once it's been renovated. The chapel was constructed in 1871, and Nicolette Asselin, of Clarendon Heritage, said it has been closed since sometime in the 1980s. "It was built as a little country church," Asselin said. "It's been closed, really, forever. ... I guess they didn't know about how to write grants, get money. ... It's not really unsafe. It's just kind of gotten forgotten." Asselin has been working with the Friends organization, and got them a $250 grant to which they raised a $250 match for an assessment of the building. "They got an architect involved," she said. "The architect said this is worth saving ... It's in sound condition so you can do the outside first." The open-shingled belfry holds the church's original bell. The roof is made of purple slate quarried in Vermont, and the interior retains the original tin ceiling. Asselin said they need an estimated $40,000 for the outside, which requires paint, some wood work and the replacement of some broken windows. She said they are working with state historic preservation officials on getting more grants. "A lot of people want a church and they want a historical museum," Friends member Marge Southard said, going through the survey forms visitors had filled out saying what should become of the building. "There's an issue with parking ... I think it's basically, probably going to end up as a historical museum. ... We need one in Clarendon. We have a historical society that's very active in town. They have a lot of members and they need a place." However, Southard said nothing had been decided. "I'll tell you something, if God wants this to be a church, it'll be a church," she said.

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