Restoration of Meeting House Windows
Traveling south on Route 153 through Lord’s Hill in Effingham observant drivers may have noticed something is afoot at the Lord’s Hill Meeting House. The 1798 building has, for most of its existence, been graced with some of the largest windows in the area. One of them was recently removed for restoration and a sturdy, decorative covering has been installed in the 40 square foot opening.
With this first step, the non-profit organization that cares for the Meeting House launches an effort to restore and protect the longevity of the windows that help define this remarkable space, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Lord’s Hill Historic District. The building has enjoyed periodic care and maintenance under the guise of various entities and organizations over the years. The Meeting House is Effingham’s original public meeting space, built in the late 18th century when such buildings functioned both as churches and town houses. The First Parish Society was the original resident church, but there have been several groups to provide stewardship for the building since then.
The window sash and shutters have had regular, but superficial attention in recent decades. The goal of this project is to thoroughly restore the windows to ensure they survive intact for future generations to enjoy and become inspired by. At the time these windows were installed in the building-likely in 1848 when the layout of the Meeting House was changed from a galleried space with two levels of smaller windows-the lower sash was operable with sash cord and window weights to allow for ventilation during warmer months. Over the course of time, the cords decayed and the 15lb iron weights each dropped with a thud in their pockets. Pulleys are tucked in a channel on the sides of the sash, a setup that conceals the fact that the windows were once operational. Several coats of paint encased the sash inside and out, and it may have been some time since anyone gave a thought to whether the windows could be opened.
The newly restored sash will be installed with brass sash chain and the original weights to once again have them fully functional. In a later phase of the project shutters will be removed from their fixed position and outfitted with proper hardware to allow for their use as intended during inclement weather or to provide shade.
This project is made possible by a matching grant from the 1772 Foundation, administered by New Hampshire Preservation Alliance. The 1772 Foundation is a national organization that works to ensure the safe passage of our historic buildings and farmland to future generations. Lord’s Hill Meeting House was awarded a grant in their 2020 round of Historic Preservation Matching Grants. Matching donations from Meeting House members have yielded the funds to restore the first window. Plans changed earlier this year when the expected restoration firm closed for an extended period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of Beverly Thomas from New Hampshire Preservation Alliance, the Meeting House was able to revise the project plan to allow the project to proceed without interruption.
Donations to the window restoration project can be made here