The Old Firehouse and former Freewill Baptist Church in Huntington Center, built in 1841 has been on HHCT’s radar for the past couple of years. A subcommittee of HHCT and the Recreation Committee has been active in a limited capacity during this past year. Duncan Keir and Eliot Lothrop arranged for and installed temporary roofing on the addition to the original structure. This was paid for by the $1,250 Recreation Committee funding from the Town for the purpose of stabilizing the building by repair of windows, roof, and other measures. The Town has again budgeted $1,250 for the coming year, which is planned to be use for further securing the deteriorating building envelope. HHCT hired Texas Hill Lawn Care to keep the Japanese Knotweed cut down over the summer months, continuing the eradication program started by HHCT and others in 2019.
At our January 2021 meeting, Eliot Lothrop of Building Heritage, proposed a fresh look at the Old Firehouse/Free Will Baptist Church in the form of an updated building assessment. The only previous assessment in 2006 was prepared by Jan Lewandosky. He indicated two approaches for restoration: disassemble and reconstruct, or rebuild with historic materials and methods in place.
In the spring a work party composed of HHCT and Recreation Committee members removed interior 1960’s paneling to facilitate Eliot Lothrop’s assessment. Three windows were removed on the north side for historical repair, and the south wall windows will be removed in the spring and restored. These windows will be reinstalled upon future reconstruction of the south wall . The removal of the 1960s paneling revealed old hair plaster walls in some locations with the dates and names of the contractors on the walls. If these earlier walls can not be saved in reconstruction, they will be documented for history.
Eliot’s assessment and the accompanying report offer a clear depiction of the structural conditions in 2021 and will be useful in applying for restoration grants.
(See Eliot Lothrop’s assessment below)
In addition to the work party, new, temporary roofing was installed as noted in last year’s newsletter. The surrounding knotweed is under control thanks to many mowings by Texas Hill Lawn Care. A holiday wreath was placed on the entry door last winter and geraniums spent the summer and fall in new whisky barrel planters so passersby would notice and take pride in the old structure.