The Brookline Community Center needs your help

Editor of the Reformer:

The Brookline Baptist Church was built in 1836 and actively held services until 1945. The Ladies Benevolent Society took over stewardship of the building and lovingly cared for the building until 2014 when the group acknowledged that their energies no longer permitted them to assume this responsibility.

As a result, they graciously offered the property to the town of Brookline. At the March 2014 Town Meeting, the residents of Brookline voted to accept the property and shortly afterwards, a committee was appointed to formulate a vision for the future use of the building, while ensuring that the building would be properly restored and maintained. The Brookline Community Center Advisory Committee hired Jan Lewandoski, a highly regarded expert on the preservation and restoration of historic structures in Vermont, to assess the scope of the work needed to restore the building. Mr. Lewandoski noted several issues needing attention but also took the opportunity to point out, "Overall, the Brookline Church is one of the more unaltered structures I have seen in this state.



As the committee began its work, it was quickly confirmed that this building was worth restoring and assuring its continued use. Over the last year and a half, we worked to develop a vision for the future use of the building and to assure that it serves the entire community. We envision a year-round, living, breathing building which is actively used by our community hosting meetings, lectures, weddings, funerals, concerts, films, plays, parties and any other activity the community wishes to design and implement.

In light of this over arching vision the Committee is proposing to change the name of the building to The Brookline Community Center. In order for the public to safely use the building, there are several projects that are currently underway. Following Mr. Lewandowski's recommendations, our first priorities are: heavy timber steeple framing repair; belfry roof repair; vestibule post improvements; and first floor framing and interior supports.

The Committee has been hard at work identifying funding sources and applying for grants. We have applied for a $36,000 matching state grant, which we will find out in January whether we will receive funding.

Although these repairs are a high priority they are virtually invisible to the daily visitor. However, there are 11 beautiful original double-hung windows in the brick section of the building that are in desperate need of repair. The deteriorating windows are very high visibility and when repaired will send a message to our community that we care about this building and repairs are moving forward. The theme of this year's Holiday donation request is "Sponsor a Window."

Crucial to our success is your support, both moral and financial. Any contribution is greatly appreciated and 100 percent of your donation will go directly to the restoration of the windows. If you wish to do so, please mail your donation to: Town of Brookline, PO Box 403, Brookline, VT 05345. Please make your check payable to the "Town of Brookline" with "Brookline Community Center Window Conservation Fund" in the memo.

Peter Meyer, Chairman, Brookline Community Center Advisory Committee, Dec. 14