JAFFREY MEETINGHOUSE TIMELINE

Incomplete

Last updated: 30 March 2015

 

 

 

1749. November 30.

“When the Masonian Proprietors granted the township of Middle Monadnock to Deacon Jonathan Hubbard and his thirty-nine associates, November 30, 1749, it was made a condition of the conveyance “that a good and convenient Meeting House be Built in said Township as near the Center of the Town as may be with Convenience within six years from this date and Ten Acres of Land Reserved for Publick Uses.”

      The Proprietary failed in its obligation, owing in large measure to conditions beyond its control, and by the indulgence of the original grantors, it evaded the building of a meeting-house altogether, leaving the work to be finally undertaken twenty-five years later in 1775, after the incorporation of the town.”

(Source: Town History v I, p181)

 

1774. April 26.

“Our few records show that Jaffrey proceeded according to the accepted custom of the times and it requires only a knowledge of those customs derived from a study of other records of the period to make the picture complete. On April 26, 1774, it was voted

to build a meeting house on the common near the senter this and the ensuing year—Roger Gilmore, William Turner Alexr McNeil a Committee to see the same affected, the above Committee to Vendue [auction] sd house to the last bidder.

At the same meeting it was voted that the house should be forty feet wide, fifty-five in length with posts twenty-seven feet high. At a meeting in July following it was voted

to Reconsider their vote in Building a meeting-house also their vote in Chose of a Committee, then Voted sd meetinghouse Sixty feet in Lenth, Forty-five wide, the Posts twenty-seven feet in Lenth also voted to have a Porch at each end of sd hous. Voted Mr Roger Gilmore Mr Willm Turner Mr Matthew Wallace be a Committee to see the work affected in Building sd house.

      Voted that the Comee shall expose sd house to sail at Public Vendue by the first wednesday of Sept next, also Voted that the Great timber of sd house be hewed by the first day of Decemr next, also voted fifteen pounds L. M. towards building sd house, to be paid by the first day of December Next, also Voted that sd house shall be Raised by the Middle of June Next at the towns Cost.”

The contract for building the house was let to Samuel Adams, then of Rindge, a young man twenty-four years of age, who was the lowest bidder. No copy of the contract with Adams has been found, but it is clear by the several votes recorded that the raising was not included, but reserved to the town committee, to be effected in the customary manner at the “towns Cost,” as a later discussion and vote made special mention of all necessary “utensils” for the raising to be provided by the town.”

 (Source: Town History v I, pp171-72)

 

“The next move, to “see how far the town will proseed to finish sd house and Likewise how soon the Committee are to see the same effected,” was a prudential one following the precedent of surrounding towns, by which they provided only for raising and covering the frame, leaving the interior to later consideration. Upon this subject they voted that the frame should be “well underpinned with good stone and lime,” the outside completed and colored like the Rindge meeting-house, the lower floor laid double, the pulpit like that in Rindge, all of which was to be completed by the middle of June, 1776.”

(Source: Town History v I, p183)

 

 

1774. December.

“The timbers for the Meeting-house were cut on a school lot easterly of Thorndike Pond and probably were drawn to the Common over the snow in December, 1774.”

(Source: Town History v I, p172)

 

“The great timbers of the house, it is said by tradition, were cut on the highlands near the old Stickney place east of Thorndike Pond. They were undoubtedly drawn to the Common by oxen on snow in the winter of 1774-75.”

 (Source: Town History v I, p183)

 

1775. March?

“When the town voted to building the meeting-house on the common in 1774, it also voted to pass over an article to see in what manner the town will proceed to clear the common to set their meeting-house on. The next year the town voted to work on the common on the first Monday in May.”

(Source: Cutter’s Town History, p157)

 

 

1775. May.

“On the first Monday in May, 1775, citizens gathered to clear the Common. Doubtless about this time Samuel Adams commenced the work of framing. But since he was young, although having experience in connection with work on the Rindge meeting-house, progress was not so rapid as he hoped and the skill required to frame a building sixty feet long and forty-five feet wide without supporting posts perhaps was beyond his capacity. In view of the time set for the raising—”the Middle of June next”—he sought expert assistance. His brother- in-law, Jeremiah Spofford, of Georgetown (now Groveland), Massachusetts, was a skilled mechanic, having had much experience in the construction of large buildings. Adams secured his aid, and Jeremiah Spofford, with Jacob Spofford and Joseph Haskell, also of Georgetown, came to Jaffrey to assist the work.”

(Source: Town History v I, p172)

 

 

1775. June 17.

 “The raising of the Jaffrey meeting-house was the first important community event in the history of the town, and it was rendered especially memorable by the extraordinary circumstances under which it was undertaken. The story of the raising was a fireside tale in every old Jaffrey family for nearly one hundred years, and always as its most essential part it was related that while the fathers and their invited guests were engaged in their heavy work they heard down over the eastern horizon, the far-off rumble of the guns of Bunker Hill, signifying that war had begun.”

(Source: Town History v I, p169)

 

“That the tremendous task was accomplished with the attendant ceremony demanded by the customs of the times is indicated by the statement of Thomas K. Goff, descendant in the fourth generation of the chief character (see Vol. II), that John Eaton, the town’s Jack- of-all-trades, stood on his head on the ridge-pole. No current record shown as to refreshment, but that Henry Coffeen, active at the raising of the first Rindge meeting- house, knew what was needed on such occasions and met the requirement, is shown by a vote of the town in March, 1780, that he be paid “for the barrel of rum expended at the raising of the meeting-house and two dollars silver money he lent the town.””

(Source: Town History v I, pp172-73)

 

 

1775. November.

“In November, acting under stress of demand from the contractor for money, a meeting was called “To See if the town will Agree to Pass A Vote to Sell Lott No. 14 in the 2 Range which Lott Was granted by the Lord Proprietors for the Benefit of A School,” and, if voted, “to See if the town will Aggree and so pass a Vote to Hire the Price of Said Lott in Order to Defray a Part of the Cost of Building the Meeting-house the town Paying the Interest Yearly for the use of a School or Otherwise as they Shall think Proper.”

(Source: Town History v I, pp183-84)

 

1778.

 “At this time Samuel Adams the contractor, and Jonathan Stanley, Jr., were appointed a committee to lay out the meeting-house ground, or floor space, and thirty pounds were voted to build the body seats, and other charges. These were the first seats built in the house and for a time were occupied by the congregation.”

(Source: Town History v I, p184)

 

1778. November.

“The following November it was “voted to finish off the meetting house this year and Next, also Chosen Eleazer Spofford, Joseph Bates, Phinehas Spaulding, John Cutter, Benja Spaulding, a Comee to Effect the Same.”

(Source: Town History v I, p184)

 

1779. January 14.

On January 14, 1779, after long consideration of ways and means for finishing the house, it was voted to sell the pews in advance from a plan in hands of Dea. William Smiley, vendue master, “on the 21st day of January instant at Nine of the Clock before Noon and the Vendue Master [auctioneer] is to deliver up what money he gets to the Comee.” Payments were to be made in three installments, the last when the pews were finished. To have the conditions clearly understood, it was further “Voted that if any man Neglects to pay the first payment, his Vote Shall afterwards be taken no Notice of but the pew exposed to sale again. Voted that if any man does pay the first and second payments and Neglects to pay the third, he Shall forfeit all he has paid and his pew Exposed to Sale again.”

(Source: Town History v I, p184)

 

1787.

Voted to Grant the two middle body seats below, men and womens side, for the Singers.”

(Source: Cutter’s Town History, p154)

 

1791.

In 1791, Aug. 3, a survey [of the Common]was made, bounds established, and a transcript made, by John Gilmore, Roger Gilmore, and Samuel Buss, a committee chosen by the town for that purpose.”

(Source: Cutter’s Town History, p155)

 

Voted to grant half of the Front Gallery for the Singers and take it out of the Senter.”

(Source: Cutter’s Town History, p154)

The pew owners previous to 1791 were as follows:

PEW
NO. OWNER

1  Roger Gilmore

2  Capt. Joseph Cutter

3  Ensign Joseph Wilder

4  Dr. Adonijah Howe

5  Joseph Brooks

6  Capt. Benjamin Spaulding

7  Lt. Moses Worcester

8  Oliver Bailey

9  Phineas Spaulding

10  Phineas Spaulding

11  Capt. Joseph Perkins

12  John Davidson

13  Joseph Thorndike

14  Capt. Jonathan Stanley

15  Lt. Joseph Bates

16  Alexander Milliken

17  Thorndike and Page

18  Lt. William Turner

19  John Gilmore

20  Isaac Bailey

21  Capt. Daniel Emery

22  Dea. Daniel Emery

23  Thomas Mower

24  Robert Harkness

25  Lt. John Harper

26  Capt. Samuel Adams

27  Eleazer Spofford

28  Lt. James Stevens

29  Capt. James Gage

30  Benjamin Nutting

31  Simon Warren

32  Oliver Proctor

33  Eleazer Spofford

34  John Briant

35  Rev. Laban Ainsworth

36  Abel Parker

37  Dr. Adonijah Howe

38  Lt. Samuel Buss

39  Eleazer Spofford

40  Nathan Hall

41  Benjamin Dole

42  John Kent

43  Lt. Jacob Pierce

44  Widow Lois Stanley

45  Joseph Turner

46  Samuel Pierce

47  Capt. Samuel Adams

48  Ebenezer Stratton

49  Francis Wright

50  Peter Jones

51  Dea. William Smiley

52  Nehemiah Green

53  Oliver Hale

 

PEWS IN THE GALLERY

1  Lt. Jereme Underwood

2  Ebenezer Thompson

3  Abraham Ross

4  Charles Davidson

5  Dr. Adonijah Howe

6  Daniel Priest

7  Jonathan Priest

8  Kendall Pearson

9  Capt. Joseph Perkins

10  Lt. Samuel Buss

11  Benjamin Whitmore

12  Eleazer Spofford

13  David Cutter

14  Dr. Adonijah Howe

15  Collins Hathorn

16  Josiah Belknap

17  Nehemiah Green

18  Samuel Stanley

19  Daniel Priest

20  John Buckley

21  Samuel Adams

22  Isaac Bailey

23  Abijah Carter

24  William Emery

25  Lt. Thomas Adams”

(Source: Town History v I, pp186-87)

 

1792.

Voted to annex the womans seats in the front of the Gallery to the Singers Seats.”

(Source: Cutter’s Town History, p154)

 

In 1792 the meeting-house was at once unfinished and out of repair. The roof leaked, the windows were broken, the door steps were hewed logs or temporary plank, the contractor was only partially paid, the minister’s salary was far in arrears, and prompt action was necessary to save the meeting-house from total loss. Instead of the paint they had voted, it was colored only by wind and sun, and instead of the underpinning “of good stone and lime,” it still stood on temporary wooden blocks and stones that had supported its sills on the great day of the raising. The front door, shattered by the constable’s hammer that had nailed countless calls and summonses to its long-suffering panels with coarse blacksmith’s nails, was open to winds and vandals alike.”

(Source: Town History v I, p191)

 

1793.

In 1793 it was voted again to paint the house and repair the underpinning, shingling, and glass. These repairs were immediately limited to repairing the “wood work and the Glass that Shall be found wanting and no farther.” There was no money to complete the undertaking and the vote to paint was rescinded with the laconic instructions to the committee “to settle with the men engaged to paint the meeting-house the easiest way they can.”

(Source: Town History v I, p191)

 

1795.

To such neglect had it fallen that in 1795 Captain Joseph Cutter was given permission to move it northward to the position occupied by the present horse-sheds because it interfered with the approach to his tavern. It was specified that “the back Side Sill of the meetting-house Should Stand on the South end line of burying yard, and that the North west corner thereof be as far west as the third post from the west end of the horse Shades.” This record proves the existence of horsesheds nearly fifteen years before those at present on the premises were erected.”

(Source: Town History v I, p191)

 

1796, 1797.

“In this connection it was “voted to Underpin the meeting-house with faced Stone, Equal to the Stone in Lt. Alexr Milliken’s house underpinning, the Largeness of the house to be considered, …the ground…to be dug down to hard pan.” Fortunately, Captain Cutter failed to comply with the conditions imposed by the town and the following May (1796) it was voted to repair the meeting-house “where it Now Stands by underpinning it with good hewn Stone fifteen inches thick and Repair the Clapboards…corner boards and door casings by adding New ones where they are Split or broken. Nails where they are wanting so as to be painted, and painted with a light Stone colour…the Roof and windows Repaired this Summer, the Underpinning together with the Repairs of Clapboards and painting by the 20th of June 1797.”

…and $200 was voted for the repair and underpinning of the meeting-house, to which the next year (1797) the sum of $150 was added.

      The repair of the meeting-house was one of the great undertakings, measured by means and conditions, in the town’s history. In the first place, the enormous weight of the building with its contents had to be raised sufficiently, with the crude appliances then available, to allow room for excavation and the setting of the heavy stone foundations beneath its sills. This was accomplished by home made wooden jackscrews which, it is supposed, were made at John Eaton’s turning mill in the section now called Squantum, where in excavation on the site of an old grist mill, about the year 1900, a decayed specimen of such a device came to light. Benjamin Cutter, Samuel Buss, John Joslin, and John Coughran, the last a millwright, were paid $112.66 for raising the house and setting the underpinning stones. Joseph Newhall, probably from a neighboring town, received $99.50, besides his board, for splitting stones. Jacob Danforth was paid for making and sharpening his drills and also for a generous supply of rum and sugar to encourage the work. Paul Powers, Abraham Ross, Phinehas Tyler and others, all of Jaffrey, were also employed as stone splitters. Micah Munroe, as assistant to Newhall, hewed the doorstones for the main entrance and the porches, and Jonathan and Daniel Emery placed the finished stones at the meeting-house doors.

      The foundation stones, in whole or part, were quarried in the so called Stanley and Spaulding pasture in lot 2, range 3, on the west slope of Monadnock, on land recently given to the State of New Hampshire by Mrs. Paul W. Kimball of Jaffrey. A few perfect unused specimens of these foundation stones may still be found on the lot. To haul the stones over the mountain road to the meeting house was a heavy undertaking for the oxen, which were mercifully allowed a breathing spell at favorable intervals of time and distance, particularly alongside the Milliken Tavern and at the Mineral Spring House. There was no charge for relief to the oxen but both houses presented bills to the town for refreshments, other than spring water, furnished to the teamsters and charged to underpinning the meetinghouse. Esquire Thorndike’s store at the edge of the Common was another source of “encouragement” to the workers in the heat and burden of the day, duly charged to the undertaking and paid by the town. The liquor charged to underpinning is in some instances included with other items so that the exact sum so expended does not appear, but it may be conservatively stated that a barrel of rum was expended by our frugal ancestors in underpinning the meeting-house and that none was wasted.”

 (Source: Town History v I, pp192-93)

 

 

1798, 1799, 1800, 1801.

On March 6, 1798, the town had voted to paint the meeting-house and $167.67 was appropriated for the purpose. Dr. Adonijah Howe, one of the most efficient citizens of his day, was the active member of the committee, with Deacon Spofford and John Coughran acting in an advisory capacity. To paint a meeting-house was not the simple matter that might be imagined. Doctor Howe was no Caliph of Bagdad to utter the cabalistic word and without care or thought see the people’s palace dipped in vermillion or stone color by necromancy before his eyes. There was not, so far as known, a painted house in the township. People who lived in painted houses were talked about. Even a painted chair offered a guest was tested with a cautious finger before the distrustful visitor could accept the courtesy. To paint a meeting-house was not an everyday undertaking, but Dr. Howe, by great good fortune, found a man for his purpose in Lieutenant Joseph Kimball, who had come to town from Boxford, Massachusetts, two years before. Lieutenant Amos Stickney repaired the outside of the house preparatory to painting, renewing the corner boards, windows and door casings and clapboards where split and renailing all that were loosened. Lieutenant Jereme Underwood made new outside doors and Jacob Danforth, blacksmith, was paid four dollars for handles and latches, probably those still in use.

      A great quantity of flaxseed was needed for oil. Nathan Cutter had two bushels at $1.50; Robert Harkness, four and one half bushels, for which he received a credit of $3.37; Peter Bates, one bushel and eighteen quarts, $1.17. Josiah Mower also supplied flaxseed and went to Peterborough and Keene on the business of painting the meeting- house. Thomas Adams was paid $2.29 for flaxseed and Spanish brown. Jonah Carter had two bushels for the job at $1.50. Hugh Smiley received $5.36, “it bing in full for flax seed and oxen to Peterborough for oyl to Paint the Meetinghouse.” On March 4, 1799, Dr. Howe received from the selectmen $24.97 “for Paint for the Meetinghouse at Esqr Hartwells.” Esquire Hartwell owned the Linseed Oil Mill at New Ipswich. From all accounts it appears that more than seventy bushels of flaxseed were required to produce the oil for painting the meeting-house. It was hauled to Peterborough to Samuel Smith’s oil mill or to the mill at New Ipswich and exchanged for oil. The white lead came from Concord and from Keene by ox power. Captain Adams boarded the painters, Lieutenant Kimball and his man Cromby. George Barrett of New Ipswich was paid $45 for flaxseed which he lent the committee for painting the meetinghouse. The parties in all these transactions were far apart and their only means of communication were by many weary miles of travel over primitive roads.

      On March 11, 1800, the town paid Nathan Barnard, a public spirited citizen, one dollar in full for furnishing the use of his house and kettles and firewood “to boil the oil to paint the meeting house.” A year later, February 27, 1801, three years lacking one week from the beginning of his service, the painting was done and honest Doctor Howe gave his receipt for “Nine dollars in full for Service as Comee man for Repairing the Meetinghouse.”

 (Source: Town History v I, pp193-94)

 

 

1808, 1810.

THE HORSESHEDS

“In 1808 the selectmen were authorized to lay out and dispose of a strip of ground on the north side of the Common for “the erection of horsestables in such a way and manner as they shall think proper.” Proceeding with the deliberation appropriate to their charge, two years later they reported that certain responsible citizens had built and occupied “a range of stables north of the meetinghouse pursuant to a vote of the town and an agreement with the selectmen founded on said vote.” This concession was made “only for the space of 999 years,” upon conditions stipulated on March 13, 1810, when it was

Voted that the aforesaid persons their heirs and assigns forever shall severally be entitled to the use of the ground on which said stables are nowe erected in the order & number following, beginning at the barn of Joseph Cutter Esq.—viz. Josiah Mower No. 1,—James Stevens No. 2. Samuel

Peirce No. 3.—Parker Maynard No. 4.—Roger Brigham No. 5.—Jereme Underwood No. 6.—Eleazer Spofford No. 7.—David Gillmore Jr. No. 8.—David Gillmore No. 9.—Edward Spaulding No. 10—Moses Worster No. 11, and Abner Spofford No. 12. And that they & their heirs & assigns hold the same severally upon this express condition & no other, viz. that each one severally his heirs or assigns keep & maintain on the spot where his stable now stands, a stable in decent repair; and that no other use be made of said ground, and upon failure of keeping said stable in decent repair, or upon converting said ground to any other use, each ones right is to be forfeited and lost.

 

      Of the twelve stables thus provided, number one adjoining Captain Cutter’s barn was long ago removed to make another gateway to the burying yard as at present in use. Accordingly, the numbers of the sheds as now standing are one less than the figures here recorded, the present shed number one being that owned by Lieutenant James Stevens, and shed number eleven at the west end of the line being the number twelve, originally owned by Abner Spofford.

Much that is good and bad may be said of the old horsesheds. In a horseless age they serve to perpetuate some strong flavors of the early days. Beneath their shade on town meeting or sultry Sabbath days tongues were loosened and much that was wise and quaint and good and bad, that has escaped the historian and town clerk, was wafted to the confines of the town. The horsesheds still stand and, in the minds of many good people, something irrecoverable that we can ill spare will be lost when the homely, humble horsesheds no longer stand like a worn out servitor, hat in hand, beside the stately meeting-house.”

(Source: Town History v I, pp194-95)

 

 

1800s.

“The first pipe organ was made in town by Almon Bailey, a musician and mechanic, assisted by his brother, Edward, at their mill on the Mountain Stream. It is described by Edward H. Bailey, from boyhood memories, as about six feet wide by nine feet high. The pipes were made of wood, and were square in form, the largest five or six inches inside measurement, and varying in length up to four or five feet. The pipes were covered by three panels or shutters of the common window blind form, set between upright supporting columns, the central section being wider than those on the sides. The organ was not sold, but only loaned to the church and was placed in the gallery behind the singers, where two wall pews had been removed to provide space. It was an object of great curiosity, and when it became known that the Bailey boys were setting up the organ in the meeting-house, there was quite a gathering on hand to watch the work. Merrill Parker of Peterborough, who is related to the Smileys, now tells the story as it was told to him by Jane Dinsmore, who was present, that when the work was done, to everybody’s surprise and the delight of some, the first piece played on the meeting-house organ, to show its quality, was “Fisher’s Hornpipe.” Some thought this was going a little bit too far. Almon Bailey removed to Marlborough about 1836, where he became a recognized organ builder. The use of the Jaffrey meeting-house for church services declined with the building of new houses of worship by the different denominations, and the Bailey organ, correspondingly out of use, was taken out and finally removed to Marlborough.”

(Source: Town History v I, p207)

 

1816, 1822, 1825 1826.

“For more than forty years the town stubbornly resisted every effort to warm the meeting-house in winter. Such comfort did not comport with its Puritan theology. In 1816 a motion “to See if the town will put a stove into the meeting-house or give liberty to have one put in” was passed over, but, despite stout protests, convictions yielded to comfort and a stove was installed by private subscription before 1822, when the town, still resisting, voted “not to furnish wood for the stove in the meeting-house.” In 1825 the majority had so far overcome the rigor of the old faith that the town paid for the wood, which thereafter became an annual charge. In 1826 bids were asked for “Four solid cords good green hemlock, pine or spruce wood cut and split for the stove in the meeting-house to be cut two feet long in the month of May and put into the portches by the first of November next with the bark on the same.” Moody Lawrence, at a dollar a cord, was the lowest bidder that year.”

(Source: Town History v I, p191)

 

 

1822.

THE STEEPLE

 

“A meeting-house on a hill with its spire pointing heavenward is the most perfect symbol of a New England country town. After the painting was completed, the Jaffrey Meeting-house waited twenty years for its crowning feature. Neighboring towns all had steeples and bells for their meeting-houses and Jaffrey never willingly remained at the rear. In 1822 the meeting-house was extensively repaired with new clapboards and finish where required, and repainted, and the same year the belfry was built at the expense of public spirited citizens on condition that the town buy the bell, to which it assented with remarkable unanimity. The story of the bell is related in another chapter.

      The steeple was built by the town’s master carpenter, Joel O. Patrick, in connection with the general repairs for which he was the successful bidder. The scion of a gifted family, he displayed in his work a skill and taste that might have made him a successful architect in a larger field. The steeple of the Jaffrey Meeting-house for its beautiful proportions and perfect adaptation to the main structure has received the praise of many people competent to judge its merits. In construction it is heavily timbered like the adjoining structure, to which it is firmly yoked by two long beams fastened to the heavy chord timbers for about two-thirds the length of the building and keyed to a cross timber connecting the tops of the sturdy posts of the tower. It is called a Christopher Wren tower, one of its distinctive features being that it stands on its own base and not upon the roof of the meeting-house. Its beauty and symmetry will be best appreciated from illustrations in these pages.”

(Source: Town History v I, pp195-96)

 

 

1823. February – March.

1824.

“The example of these neighbors could not fail to arouse a similar interest in Jaffrey, which led to the building of the present shapely steeple on the old Meeting-house, which was paid for by private subscription with the expectation that with this provided, the town would supply the bell. In February, 1823, the town voted to accept the belfry as a part of the Meeting-house, and at the same meeting voted to purchase a bell to be paid for by the sale of additional pew ground in the Meeting-house at that time "occupied by the body seats on the lower floor." On the 20th of the same month, the town bought from the Revere foundry its 282nd bell, which was received March, 1823, and placed in the new tower of the only meeting-house in town at that time. The cost of the bell in Boston was $440.30. It was used constantly until 1850, when it was cracked, but was soon after recast by Henry N. Hooper of Boston. For many years it continued its service until after the installation of the town clock, since which it has served as a clock bell, except for occasional use upon events of ceremony or special importance. In 1824 it was voted to raise money to ring and toll the bell, a custom that was continued until after the Civil War.”

(Source: Town History v I, pp260-61)

 

 

1842. April 21.

Bill from John W. Poole for "Apr 21, 1842 mending door latch .12" and for "repairing pullys & maikng pully blocks .62" and for "Sept 27 mending bell irons .50"

 

 

1849. November 8.

Bill from Stephen Knight to the Selectmen for “1-92” for “repairing town house windows.”

 

 

1855. July 5.

Left now to secular uses, the old meeting-house stood alone, its doors seldom opened except for March meetings and fall elections. The great bell in its tower each Sabbath day sent out its summons to new houses of worship while its own doors remained shut. Its silent pulpit looked down upon empty pews gathering the dust that was to be their sepulture. Where strong sweet voices had raised the sacred hymn there was heard only the drone of the bluebottle fly beating against the windows of its prison. Only memories and the ghosts of old theologies remained. With the closing of its doors ended, after nearly fifty years, the active ministry of Reverend Laban Ainsworth, the first and only settled minister of the town. With its square box pews, occupying nearly all its floor space, its gallery and high pulpit unused, the meeting-house, as it still remained in common parlance, was ill-adapted for the transaction of town business or for public gatherings. It was no longer a meeting-house in the old sense and on July 5, 1855, by a vote generally forgotten, it was named the Town House, its true and legal designation today.”

(Source: Town History v I, p197)

 

 

1868.

“In 1868, John Conant, Esq., of Jaffrey, gave the town the sum of $7,000, the interest of which is to be used for the support of a high school in said town. The town-house in the centre of the town was altered and repaired to meet the wants of the town. The lower story is used for the school, and the upper one for a town hall. In 1872 the school was opened for instruction. It has two terms in a year,—one at East Jaffrey, and one at the middle of the town.”

(Source: Cutter’s Town History, p89)

 

 

1870.

“After twenty-five years of neglect, to meet the changing needs of the town in 1870, the former meeting-house was remodeled by the removal of the pulpit, gallery, and pews, and the addition of a middle floor with a town hall above and school rooms below. At this time Hon. John Conant gave a fund of one thousand dollars to the town, the income to be used for keeping the outside of the Town House in repair. By the alteration made at this time, and the use of alien southern pine finish in place of native lumber, though meeting the immediate needs of the town, the character and spirit of the interior of the former meeting-house were utterly destroyed. After a few years’ use, due to a shifting of the center of population and the abolition of the former school districts, the new school rooms in the Town House were abandoned, and, in 1914, the place for town meetings and the transaction of town business was removed to East Jaffrey.”

(Source: Town History v I, p197)

 

 

1873.

Meetinghouse remodeled according to Prescott Duncan.

(Source: noted in scrapbook in Box 14, Jaffrey Historical Society.)

 

 

1904. April 1.

1906.
The bell at the old Meeting-house was rung, at least to mark the noonday, until April 1, 1904. But by 1906 the people at Jaffrey Center missed the sound to such a degree that the present town clock was installed at an expense of $553, $350 being appropriated and $203 being raised by popular subscription. The Baptist bell at East Jaffrey was rung until about 1880, when a transfer was made to the Universalist bell as being of louder tone and nearer the center of the village. When in 1884 a town clock was installed in the latter belfry, the noon bell was discontinued. (Source: Town History v I, p263)

 


1922, 1923.

“In 1922 the Village Improvement Society of Jaffrey, with true appreciation of the character and associations of the old meeting-house (see later chapter), offered to cooperate with the town in restoring, so far as compatible with present day uses, its former appearance and condition. In this work nearly nine thousand dollars were expended, three thousand of which were provided by a town appropriation. The middle floor was removed, restoring the ancient lofty interior and making a dignified hall of colonial design, with a narrow gallery on three sides, supported by square fluted columns, in the spirit if not in the exact form of the original edifice. The same two rows of windows light the interior as in former days and the same arched window that once admitted light to the high pulpit has been restored to a place slightly above its former position.

As a result of its restoration to its former dignity, a new interest in the old meeting-house was created, which was well expressed in its first use on a public occasion of importance when the exercises in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the incorporation of the town during the week of August 11 to August 18, 1923, were held in the newly restored building.

      The old meeting-house, surrounded by its green Common, with its “Verry Great Mountain” beyond, still stands as true of line as when the builders raised it one hundred and sixty years ago. It is the town’s dearest possession, and its perfect memorial of its heroic age. Behind the house and the rude sheds it overlooks is the Burying Place where the builders sleep. Not often in a single picture is found so much of majesty, so much of beauty and repose, so much of the spirit of Old New England as are mingle here.”

(Source: Town History v I, pp197-98)

 

 

1938.

“It received a ‘freshening paint job in 1938 & again about 1956.”

Source: In longhand of Coburn Kidd on back of photographic print of interior dated July 5, 1972.

 

 

ca. 1956.

“It received a ‘freshening paint job in 1938 & again about 1956.”

Source: In longhand of Coburn Kidd on back of photographic print of interior dated July 5, 1972.

 

 

1964.

“The clock faces . . . were refinished and should last for sometime to come.”

(Source: 1964 Town Report)

 

 

1971.

Article 13. To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate a sum not to exceed $5,980. To replace the wood shingle roof on the main roof of the Old Meeting House…”

(Source: 1970 Town Report)

 

Work was done by Veilleux Roofing for $3,040.

(Source: 1971 Town Report, p73)

 

 

1972.

“It [the interior] was given a two-coat wash-down & repainting in May-June 1972. The painting contractor was Stephen Exel of Keene. His bid was the low bid of five invited, two who submitted bids: $6,140. Mr. Fred Carpenter was foreman of the 4 men on the job—two master painters, 1 journeyman (Dave Bosworth, Exel’s son-in-law) and 1 apprentice. The paint used was Pittsburgh Paint Co, P-442, “Dawn Gray” for the plaster walls. A latex white paint was used for the ceiling. All the woodwork—gallery, columns, stairs, benches, etc.—was painted Pittsburgh’s P-452, “Colonial White. The floor was resanded & received a sealer plus a coat of Polyurethane, RE2. The stair treads were treated with a mixture of boiled linseed oil & turpentine.”

Source: In longhand of Coburn Kidd on back of photographic print of interior dated July 5, 1972.

 

It was at this time that the chandeliers and sconces on the west wall were installed.

“The 4 main chandeliers were purchased in March 1972 from the Massachusetts Gas & Electric Supply Co., 193 Friend Street, Boston, Mass., 02114. They are of Netherlands manufacture. 15 bulbs, each 60 watt, on a dimmer system. Cost for the 4 was $1,160, plus $35 for bulbs (Mr. Boudrieau has 8 or 9 spare bulbs, which his men took to his shop.). They are listed in the Globe Lighting Co catalog (Hazleton, Pennsylvania) as: G-1535. Polished brass ?? clear glass shades. Width 35”; body height 25”; overall 48”. 15 lt; 2 tiers.”

Source: In longhand of Coburn Kidd on back of photographic print of a chandelier.

 

“The benches were spray-painted with Pittsburgh Paint Co. P-452, “Colonial White”. There are 40 white benches, plus 6 varnished benches belonging to the V.I.S.”

Source: In longhand of Coburn Kidd on back of photographic print of the interior.

 

“This [chandelier in Tower entry] is a list price (retail) chandelier at $135, which Mr. Boudrieau obtained from his distributor contact in Fitchburg for $54, at a closing-out prices.”

Source: In longhand of Coburn Kidd on back of photographic print of the chandelier.

 

“Mary Kidd donated these 2 wall fixtures [west wall] to the Meeting House.”

Source: In longhand of Coburn Kidd on back of photographic print of the sconces on west wall..

 

 

1976.

Article 31. To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate a sum of money not to exceed $1,500.00 for the purpose of electrifying the two town clocks owned by the Town of Jaffrey, or act in any way relating thereto. (Source: 1975 Town Report)

Article 31. That the Town vote to raise and appropriate $1,500.00 to electrify two town clocks owned by the Town of Jaffrey. DID NOT CARRY.

(Source: 1976 Town Report)

 

 

1977.

Article 11. To see if the Town will vote to raise and appropriate the sum of $2,850.00 for the repair and electrification of the two town clocks owned by the Town of Jaffrey, or act in any way relating thereto. (Source: 1976 Town Report) CARRIED (Source: 1977 Town Report)

Expense item for $2,850 (Tower Clock Specialists)

(Source: 1977 Town Report, p33.)

 

 

1978.

There was a petition article submitted, dated February 3, 1978, for $5,000 to paint the exterior of the Meetinghouse.

 

 

1985.

There were four bids received on January 30, 1985, for painting the Meetinghouse, ranging from $3,905.00 to $12,641.00.

 

Windows were removed and transported to Alstead for repair and restoration by Glass & Aluminum Construction Services (Richard Pelletier). Invoice dated February 28, 1985, submitted. Cost: $6,562.00.

Bill from Clyde Felch dated January 8, 1985 for removal windows and closing in with plywood. Cost: $542.30.

 

 

1987.

Records show a bid was received in February 1987 to paint the exterior of the Meetinghouse for the sum of $6,642.00, submitted by Consolidated Painters, Nashua, NH.

 

Clean and coat with 2 coats of polyurethane floor of main hall and entry way. E.C. Floor Sanmding, Keene. Cost: $1,100.

 

 

1993. May 21.

New upper stages set atop the tower by crane.

 

 

1992.

In a letter dated June 9, 1992, the Town accepted Dennis Wright’s bid to paint the benches and tables at the Meetinghouse for a sum of $695.

 

 

1993.

Gold leafing the weathervane                  $600.00 (Walt’s Signs)
Outside lamp/repair of fixtures                  151.00 (see below)
Book of Records/Donations                      100.00 (Eleanor McQueen)
Book of Records/Binding                           50.00 (Harry E. Kenney)
Standing Glass Case                                 430.00 (Andrew Webber)
Architectural Drawings                              502.45 (Richard M. Monahon)
Grading and seeding new lawn               1,636.47
Restoration celebration                              260.48
Entranceway Iron Railing                          385.00 (Winchendon Welding & Repair)
Clock Motor Replacement                         378.40
Landscaping parking lot                            320.43
Miscellaneous                                             32.31
Total                                                     $4,846.54

(Source: 1993 Town Report, Meetinghouse Committee report.)

 

Cleaning and repairing copper lamps over two doors. Monadnock Metal Finishing. Cost: $25.

 

A bid for exterior painting exclusive of the Tower was submitted by Joe Cheney for an amount of $12,875.

 

Statement for professional services submitted by Richard Monahon of June 4, 1993, for bathroom and handicap ramp. Cost $812.45.

 

Estimate submitted by Andrew Webber for handicap ramp at Tower entry dated June 10, 1993. Cost: $1,650.

 

“Complete rebuilding of the foundation, underpinning and floor. Basement under stage.”

(Source: Sheet in files.)

 

“Steeple rebuilt.”

(Source: Sheet in files.)

 

“Plumbing–Bathroom, Janitors Room.”

(Source: Sheet in files.)



1994.

Bathroom Mirror and shutters                $153.42 (Andrew Webber)
Paint                                                            35.72
Railing, balcony                                      3,800.00 (Andrew Webber)
Railing, handicapped                                   73.40
Painting, bulkhead and doors                    258.00 (Joe Cheney)
Miscellaneous                                           102.27
Total                                                     $4,422.88

(Source: 1994 Town Report, Meetinghouse Committee report.)

 

A bid for exterior painting exclusive of the Tower was submitted by Joe Cheney for an amount of $14,875 for 1995 season.

 

 

1995.

“A complete new roof was installed using cedar shingles plus the removal of two chimneys to the roof line for a total of $18,710. Additionally, new stair treads were installed in the belfry to improve access to the clock, an Acrylic roof was applied to the belfry roof and other miscellaneous repairs were completed at a cost of $2,380.”

        As passed at last year's Town Meeting, Article 21, which included painting the exterior of the Meeting House. This was not completed in 1995 but will be completed in 1996. The amount was deposited in the Meeting House Trust Fund.

(Source: 1995 Town Meetinghouse Committee report.)

 

 

1996.

South side of Meetinghouse stripped (using Peel-away) and painted by Tim Kerwin.

 

 

1997.

Bids were requested for painting the interior of the Meetinghouse on August 25, 1997, for work to be completed by October 31, 1997.

 

 

1998.

Drogue Painting of Marlborough was awarded the contract to paint the interior of the Meetinghouse on February 13, 1998, for a bid amount of $18,000.

 

 

2000. March 16.

New stage curtains (gray) and newly cleaned curtain (red), reinstalled.

Dan Nelson does corrective work in attic to better support stage curtains.

 

 

2002.

February 14, 15, 18, 2002: Rear curtain replaced, new travelers installed front and rear, various adjustments. Done by Limelight Productions, 471 Pleasant Street, Route 102, Lee, MA 01238.

 

May 10, 2002: Andy Webber completed construction and installation of the two new screen doors. Also replaced sprung clapboard above double door, replaced short section of clapboard higher up on south side, constructed protective cover for clock in Tower per suggestion by Phil D’Avanza, repaired entrance stairs on east side (new stringer, new NE post, new east railing).

 

October 10, 2002: Fire alarm system began to be installed.

 

November 2, 2002: Roger’s Irrigation of Jaffrey digs trench from utility pole to near bulkhead for underground phone lines. Conduit (2” Schedule 40) laid in trench. Sand placed in trench under and above conduit.

 

November 2002: Two phone lines installed by Verizon for fire alarm and one jack. Phone numbers: 532-4574 (also for the handset) and 532-4908. Service order No: N5BG6260.)

 

Proposal from Gregg Fletcher dated April 2, 2002 to paint south side of the Meetinghouse. Cost: $2,850.

 

 

2003.

Proposal from Gregg Fletcher dated January 7, 2003 to paint east and west gable ends of the Meetinghouse plus Tower up to first stage. Cost: $16,800.

 

 

2004.

January 23-24, 2004: Removed all south faćade windows (1-13) and trucked to Hawley, Mass., by Jade Mortimer. Openings closed with black-painted plywood.

 

June 10, 2004: Inspected the Tower with Dan Quinn, Steeplejack. Got up to the very top inside. Several things to do: 1) Tighten nuts on new ironwork. Some are loose. 2) New lightning cable is in a coil on the upper level of the tower. Dan says it should be straight or curved but never coiled. 3) Dan says moisture is behind clapboards on north side of Tower. He suggests putting shims under clapboards.

 

June 17, 2004: Square grand piano from Hancock Historical Society delivered.

 

July 2, 2004: Dan Quinn took loop of lightning protection cable out near top of Tower.

 

Exterior painting of east faćade of Meetinghouse by Sunshine Painting (Richard Bujnowski). Cost: $3,200.

 

 

2005.

Painting of the base of Tower to first stage by Sunshine Painting, billed on May 14, 2005. Cost: $6,000. Two other invoices (perhaps proposals) of $19,000 (Tower—first to fourth stages) and $4,765  (“one side of Meetinghouse”)

Painting of north faćade of Meetinghouse by Windmill Hill Painting (Gregg Fletcher). Cost: $3,250.

 

 

2006.

Painting of the Tower to the very top.

 

 

2007.

Painting of south side of the Meetinghouse by Dennis Wright.

Painting of interior of the Meetinghouse in December by Dennis Wright. Ceilings of galleries ($900); north ground floor walls ($375).

 

 

2009.

Bulkhead rebuilt by Andy Webber rebuilt with pressure treated lumber. Cost: $157.40.

 

July 2009: Second floor outlet and two outlets on front of stage installed by Shea Electric of Rindge.

 

August 2009: Exterior outlet under east faćade stairs installed by Shea Electric.

 

Painting the east gable end by Dennis Wright. Cost: $3,860.

 

 

2010.

Winter-Spring 2010. Windows removed, reglazed and painted by Dennis Wright. As of April, ground floor south side and ground floor north side completed and reinstalled.

 

 

2011.

Painting of the west end of the Meetinghouse plus the Tower up to first stage by Dennis Wright. Cost: $6,080.

 

 

2012.

March 23: New 200amp electrical panel installed by Shea Electric.

March 26: New electric line run to clock so as to be on its own circuit.

May: Ceiling and gallery level gray walls scraped and painted by Dennis Wright. Cost: $8,960.

May: Ramp to Tower entry re-adjusted and pressure-treated planks replaced by “Modern View” Java color composite material. Contractor: Andy Webber. Cost: $728.50

 

 

2013.

Walls, ceiling, trim and windows of the Tower entry prepared and painted by Dennis Wright. $1,140.

 

 

2014.

The southeast post of the back exterior staircase replaced by Andy Webber.

Lightning protection system inspected and upgraded by Smokestack Lightning Inc. of Brookfield, MA. Cost: $7,350. Surge suppressors for the electric panel were installed by Shea Electric. Cost: $145.