By Carol McCracken
The Abyssinian Meeting House won the lottery last night when the city council voted unanimously to award it $122,000 in CDBG-R funds it had requested to put a new roof on the historic building located at 75 Newbury Street at the bottom of the Hill.
The building was originally built in 1826 and took a few years before it was completed. It served as part of the Underground Railroad for slaves escaping to Canada, a stable, apartments, etc. The current board hopes in the future to have it serve as a community center with lectures, art exhibits and much more. It served as a meetinig place for the community following the devastating fire of 1866 when most of the area burned to the ground. It was saved when Reuben Ruby, its founder, stood on the rooftop covering it with wet blankets.
“We have a roof,” said a beaming Leonard Cummings, president of the Committee to Restore the Abyssinian Meeting House. Both he and his daughter, Debra, testified in support of the non-profit’s request for funds. Cummings said the project needs approval from a historic committee and the fire department over the roof material to be used and then – within days – the restoration work will continue.
The funds voted for this work are part of the Federal Stimulus Package – the Recovery Program.