The American Steeple and Tower company of Salem, MA is putting the finishing touches on a 3-year, $350K comprehensive restoration of the 125’ lantern tower. Started as maintenance project to curb water infiltration, the artisans working under Bob Levesque undertook a detailed study of the structure with engineer Ed Moll from Structures North that revealed threatening deterioration in key areas. Under a protective covenant with the Massachusetts Historical Commission, architectural features had to be replicated in solid wood, including pilasters, cornices, balustrades and the eight, arch-toped lantern windows – all of which were created faithfully from the originals in solid mahogany. The banner weathervane was re-gilded in 24 carat gold leaf and the copper dome restored to its original verdigris patina. We are indebted to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Gloucester CPA Committee, the Caldwell Foundation, and private donors large and small who made this work possible.
$130K Matching Grant received from the Gloucester CPA Committee to completely restore Meetinghouse Green. The plan by the local firm LanDesign includes disease-resistant Elms, a grid-supported lawn to facilitate event parking, accessible walks, and restored cast-iron and granite fencing with wrought iron entrance gates. This will maintain and secure one of the last significant green spaces in Gloucester's city center for the pleasure and enjoyment of the whole downtown community.
Fire Deterrence Systems enhanced with a generator to protect Gloucester’s last-surviving wood-framed meetinghouse in the heart of the Historic District. To ensure that the whole building remains protected during a power outage a 50KW generator was installed, which has already made it possible for programs like the Grace Center to stay open when storms impaired or shut down the electrical grid.
We are sustainably Net Zero. Thanks to an extraordinary gift from the Hintlian family of three hectares of land, cultivated with highly carbon-absorbing trees by Reforest the Tropics in Costa Rica, the Meetinghouse has the distinction of being a very rare, large New England meetinghouse that has become a Carbon Neutral building. It demonstrates how the best historic preservation and energy conservation practices can complement each other.
Music on Meetinghouse Green 2022 raised more than $16,000 from weekly on-line gifts plus money given by generous sponsors. Funds were shared with eight local nonprofit organizations who benefit from freewill donations during the free outdoor summer music festival. The series features the best of local musicians and food vendors on Friday evenings.
The annual MLK Day celebration featured Keynote Speaker Brian Saltsman, participants from the Gloucester Racial Justice Team and the Northshore NAACP plus a presentation by the Gloucester 400th Diversity and Equity Committee. The theme was “what lies ahead” but also featured the history of displaced the native, indigenous peoples and Gloucester’s history of slave ownership and maritime commerce.
Our climate initiative, TownGreen2025, became an independent non-profit, forging a leadership role with the Cape Ann Climate Coalition to develop a visionary, multi-community approach toward mitigating the effects of climate change. TownGreen commissioned and funded a major Climate Action Study for all of Cape Ann by the Harvard Graduate School of Design that was featured in our November symposium called ‘Planning for Reality’ about urban planning in Gloucester’s downtown area; details at towngreen2025.org
Fine quality concerts, art exhibitions, our annual classic car show, silent movie event and other cultural events were held throughout the year, including a March concert that raised $5K for Ukrainian relief efforts and a May concert that debuted the Appleton Consort in works of Johann Sebastian Bach on period instruments. Your Meetinghouse currently offers over 300 seats in world-class acoustics, perfect for music of all genres, and will have over 500 seats when the gallery is restored. The ongoing building restoration will insure that Gloucester continues to have a large-scale concert and event venue of unparalleled Federal–style elegance, with a rich history in religious freedom and the equality of all people regardless of gender or background. Your Meetinghouse is truly one of a kind and the jewel of our City’s cultural life.
Coming up in the next few years is the complete interior renovation so many of you have been anticipating, which will include re-opening the classic ‘horse-shoe’ shaped gallery, replicating the original columns, adding railings and other features to meet the building Code, and for the first time introducing climate-control air-conditioning to make indoor programs possible throughout the warm months. This will be a major investment, with a Capital Campaign, to insure that the Meetinghouse is ready for other 200-plus years of service to Cape Ann…fully-restored, with all systems up-to-date, for our City’s largest gathering place.