The Friends of the Stone Church (FOSC) has received a $15,000 award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Johanna Favrot Fund.  The 50-50 matching grant will support structural repairs to the tower base of the Stone Church, located at 283 Main Street in the village of Gilbertville.  This project is Phase One of the stabilization work being done by FOSC to preserve the landmark church steeple.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) is a privately-funded nonprofit organization that works to save America’s historic places to enrich our future.  The Trust’s Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation in particular aims to save historic environments in order to foster an appreciation of our nation’s diverse cultural heritage and to preserve and revitalize our nation’s communities.  “This grant is an opportunity to celebrate Gilbertville’s important history and recognize its potential for economic development,” said Judy Edington, FOSC President.  She continued, “The Stone Church’s place within the Gilbertville Historic District was an important factor in receiving this prestigious award  The award also recognizes achievement in FOSC’s growth as an organization, and its success in bringing people together to celebrate the Hardwick community, and specifically Gilbertville’s culture and history.  FOSC’s growth is a testament to the generosity of this community in offering volunteer time, talent and financial resources.  We are immensely grateful for this support, and the National Trust award compliments our entire community.”

“Organizations like Friends of the Stone Church help to ensure that communities and towns all across America retain their unique sense of place,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the NTHP. “We are honored to provide their organization a grant to help preserve an important piece of our shared national heritage.”

The Gilbertville Stone Church Phase 1 Steeple Stabilization Project represents a funding partnership between the NTHP and the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC), a division of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, William Francis Galvin.  MHC has provided two $50,000 Emergency Funds grants to stabilize the Stone Church, in 2015 and 2017, with its current grant dedicated to stone steeple repairs.  “The engineering assessment states that we are at 10 o’clock on a scale where 12 o’clock represents a potential tower collapse,” explained Phillip Warbasse, FOSC’s consulting preservation architect. “These repairs are urgently needed.”

The Stone Church spire, the top section of its 135-foot steeple, was dismantled and rebuilt in 1910.  Through more than 140 years, many of the mortar joints throughout the spire and supporting tower have partially eroded due to water infiltration, resulting in serious cracking and stresses on the structure.

Repairs will begin in September, 2018. Joseph Gnazzo Company, Inc., of Union, CT will repair deep mortar joint damage and expansion in the north and east sides of the tower base. Structures-North Engineering Consultants of Salem, MA will oversee the work.

FOSC thanks the many people who contributed to the NTHP grant submission.  Letters of endorsement for the Favrot Fund proposal came from local resident Kathryn Crockett, AIA,  president of Lamoureux Pagano Associates, a Worcester architectural firm, and from Paul Holtz, Historical Architect and Co-Director of Grants for the Massachusetts Historical Commission. The proposal was written by Mary and Phillip Warbasse in collaboration with Judy Edington.  Valuable input and assistance were provided by Megan McDonough, a local business owner, John Wathne, structural engineer, and Susan Ceccacci, preservation consultant.