Stained glass windows inside the 114-year-old building on Crooked Road are stamped with names of church supporters from its more active days. With improvements, the Town Hill Village Improvement Society would like to host community events in the building such as knitting and book clubs, game nights and presentations once it is safe to do so again. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

Vulnerable church is in need of repairs

The tin ceiling shows signs of a roof that leaked for many years. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

BAR HARBORBarbara Fenderson remembers attending the Town Hill Federated Church a few decades ago with her former motherinlaw, and her oldest son was baptized in the Crooked Road building.  

It has been at least five years since the church has had any kind of congregation or community activity inside, but Fenderson is volunteering with the Town Hill Village Improvement Society to breathe life back into the 114-year-old building.  

Green and white shingles on the outside have seen better days and part of the tin ceiling inside shows signs of a roof that leaked for many years. Each wall of the building has at least one stained glass window, most of which bear the name of those who supported their installment. They provide a warm glow into the stark setting.  

“It should be documented as a historic building,” said Diane Vreeland, who volunteers for the Town Hill VIS. “They own the building and are responsible for the maintenance of it.” (Other properties the VIS oversees are the Town Hill playground and the ballfield next to it.) 

A recent campaign for donations helped finance repairs to the building’s roof, but work still needs to be done around the outside. Inside there are no longer pews in the congregate area, but a solid wood floor, as well as wooden window and door frames, lead one to believe it could be a community center once again.  

“We’d love the community to let us know what their needs are because it belongs to everybody,” said Vreeland.  

In 2006, the building was deeded over to the Town Hill VIS from the last remaining member of The Ladies Aid Society, according to Vreeland. Prior to the transfer, those in The Ladies Aid Society took care of the building. 

Years of sitting dormant has left the church vulnerable.  

“These are old windows,” said Fenderson inside the building, pointing to the classic stainedglass panes. “One has a bullet hole at the top of it.” 

A few Bibles are still stored in the space and flags hang next to the pulpit at the front where pews once lined the wooden floor.  

“I remember when kids used to put coins down there,” said Fenderson, pointing to a heating grate near the back of the room. When the furnace was removed from the basement, she imagines there was probably quite a cache unearthed.  

Vreeland tugs on the rope by the front door to make the bell ring. ISLANDER PHOTO BY SARAH HINCKLEY

“It desperately needs a foundation,” said Vreeland, who couldn’t resist tugging on the rope by the front door and making a joyful noise. “The bell is in great condition… There’s a lot of people who care.” 

Members of the VIS are looking for those people to come out on May 1 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. to a trunk and bake sale that will take place at their hall, which is adjacent to the firehouse on Route 102. There are already 20 vendors lined up to sell an assortment of goods, such as art, antiques and yard sale items.  

There are a handful of members of the VIS who depend on volunteers like Vreeland and Fenderson to help spread the word about revitalizing the church.   

“All of the board members work; it is difficult,” said Vreeland. “We’re in desperate need of bodies and money.” 

To sign up as a vendor for the event on May 1 or to donate items to sell, call (207) 288-1025.  

Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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