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Historic Brier Hill church slowly coming back to life


BRIER HILL — A historic church will soon sport a new roof thanks to the efforts of a grass-roots group of locals who want to turn the dilapidated local relic into a community asset.

“It’s very exciting. We do what we can, depending on funding, as we go along. With the roof being in the condition it was for so long, there is also a significant amount of damage to the walls and floors,” said Bridget C. Whalen-Nevin, secretary of the Young Memorial Church Revitalization Organization.

Wayne A. Latham, a general contractor from Morristown and member of the organization, submitted the low bid for the roof project. He said an unforeseen development has led to a cost overrun.

“In tearing it off we’ve been dealing with multiple layers, all the way down to the original cedar shake roof. On top of that was a few layers of asphalt, and finally, the ondura (corrugated asphalt) roof that was applied in 1990. We’ve found large gaps and holes underneath the layers. The additional cost is going to be for sheeting (plywood) to take care of that,” he said.

The old church, built by Enoch Young in 1904, will be topped by a forest-green metal roof by the end of the month.

“The new roof will last 40-plus years, and leakage due to neglect will be no more,” Mr. Latham said Wednesday, working on the back of the 2683 Route 37 structure. “By the weekend, we should have made our way around front so people passing by will be able to see it.”

Newly elected officers of the organization are President Frank L. Putman, Vice President Gail Spicer and Treasurer Patty Warren, as well as Ms. Whalen-Nevin. Trustees are Michael Warren, Clara Jane Warren, Mary Ellen Mace, James Lowery and David W. Stout II.

Ms. Whalen-Nevin said fundraising efforts continue.

“We would very much like to preserve the stained glass,” she said of 34 panes by the renowned artist Harry J. Horwood, who spent the last 60 years of his life in Ogdensburg, from 1887 to 1947. “We’re looking for families to donate and have begun an ‘Adopt a Window’ campaign.”

The windows range in price from $175 for smaller ones to $6,150, for a six-paneled chapel window that faces Route 37, according to Ms. Whalen-Nevin, with two already paid for and completed.

Several cut-glass windows in the building’s kitchen area and ladies parlor will cost $175 to $200 to replace.

“A plaque will be placed beneath each window dedicated to an individual or family who adopted it,” Ms. Whalen-Nevin said. Scott Ouderkirk, Morristown, will be refurbishing the windows, she said.

Contact Ms. Whalen-Nevin, Mr. Putman or Patty Warren to adopt a window.

Other fundraising efforts include a Nov. 16 spaghetti dinner at the Brier Hill Fire Hall sponsored by the Morristown Central School senior class. The dinner costs $7 and is slated for 4 to 7 p.m.

A self-guided holiday house tour will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 4 with a charge of $20 per person. In addition to Young Memorial, where Ms. Whalen-Nevin and Mrs. Spicer will be dressed in early 20th century clothing and showing off the new roof and windows, scheduled stops are: Pat Tocatlian and Chris Coffin, 2 Smithers Road, Janet and John Newtown, Chapman Street, Kathleen Pomeroy, 507 Main St., Joseph and Shirley McDonald, 903 North Umberland St., and Jeannie and Fran Colby, 1111 N. Umberland St., all in Morristown; and Mr. Putman, 2908 Route 37, and Jessica Woodcock, English Settlement Road. A reception will follow at 4 p.m. at Langbrook Meadows, 95 Hamel Road.

At the reception, tickets will be drawn for themed gift baskets. Tickets will be available for $1 each beginning at the spaghetti dinner.

A final fundraiser involves the sale of reprinted 1951 Young Memorial cookbooks, which members of the then-active Congregational Church put together 60 years ago.

“To modernize it, we’ve put in our mission statement, a brief history of the progress being made, and advertising,” Ms. Whalen-Nevin said.

“Only two submissions are from people that are still alive and only three original advertisers, Wright’s Sporting Goods, Bogardus Insurance and Morristown Fuel and Supply, remain in the area,” said Clara Warren, who organized the cookbook venture.

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