Six Hundred Seats to Code and the Complete Interior Restoration, Phases IV & V
The GMF will begin the restoration of the Meetinghouse interior, after we have insured that the tower is secure and the building envelope is fully sealed and insulated. Phase IV will increase audience capacity to the original 600 seats while meeting the current building Code, which requires major reinforcement of the horseshoe gallery structure. This will be accomplished by reinstalling interior structural posts that look like exact reproductions of 1806 columns to support the gallery and by removing the unsightly rods from the ceiling. Support for these columns will require new footings, posts and steel structures from the ground floor level. The Vestry (ground floor social hall) will receive a new floor in the process. For safety, the gallery and all staircases will receive higher, secondary handrails. Extensive ductwork, in anticipation of a new air-conditioning and heating system will be hidden under floors and above ceilings.
Phase V will concentrate on fixtures, interior finishes, and upgraded systems. This will include restoration of the horsehair plaster-on- wood lath ceilings and walls, painted in historically-correct colors with reproduction stenciling. Rough floors will be repaired using wide-board, native pumpkin pine to match the 1806 originals. Woodwork and all seating areas will be carefully restored and a set of period-correct gas/electric light fixtures, like those from the extensive 1868 renovation, will be reinstalled into their original locations. An all-new, electric, clean energy heating and cooling system will replace the current gas-fired boiler, completing the Meetinghouse’s transition to a completely “green” historic building. To enhance our programming, discrete LED theater lighting will be installed and professional audio/video recording systems will added.
A Capital Campaign for Phases IV and V (estimated at around $500,000 each) will commence in the spring of 2021 in hope of completing the work in time for Gloucester’s 400th Anniversary celebrations. The classic “shoebox” interior shape with hard plaster surfaces creates nearly perfect concert hall acoustics, ideal for concerts and civic events. No other extant venue on the North Shore has the Gloucester Meetinghouse combination of 600 seats, elegant period interior and gorgeous sound.