Ashes to ashes: Brunswick church to be demolished, replaced

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BRUNSWICK — The tattered blue tarp and sooty steeple that have loomed over lower Pleasant Street since a fire nearly destroyed the Unitarian Universalist Church in June will likely be gone before winter.

The church has been designated a “dangerous building” by the code enforcement officer, meaning it can be torn down without approval from the Village Review Board.

A letter from structural engineer Robert Gore outlined the damage to the building and risk that it could collapse in heavy snow or high wind.

The Rev. Sylvia Stocker said Wednesday that the church is accepting bids for demolition through the middle of next week, and the demolition process could begin as soon as next Friday or Saturday.

Now the congregation is working with architects from Lewiston-based Smith Reuter Lull to salvage what it can and rebuild the church.

Judy Chamberlin, chairwoman of the church’s recovery team, told the Village Review Board on Tuesday that the new church will include many architectural gems from the old church, including the weather vane, stained-glass windows and wrought-iron fence.

Stocker said the bell, which previously hung in the town’s first UU church at the corner of Mason and Maine streets until that building succumbed to fire in 1884, will also be reclaimed.

“We are so happy we will be able to salvage the bell again and bring that tangible part of our history with us into the future,” she said in an email.

Church officials hope the new building will be big enough for all its worshippers. About 2 1/2 years ago, the congregation added a second Sunday service because the old building was just too small.

“One common hope is that the (new) structure is bigger, so we can accommodate everyone in a single service,” Mike Heath, president of the congregation, said in September.

They’re also planning to make the new church more accessible to handicapped people and more environmentally friendly while matching the architecture of the neighborhood.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext.123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.

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