Leonard Cummings announced at noon today that a news conference has been scheduled for Monday morning, February 15th at 11:00 am at the old meetinghouse on Newbury Street. Cummings, president of the Committee to Restore the Abyssinian said that there are a number of announcements about the future of the church that will be made at that time.
Cummings’ announcement came as he was interviewed by Amy Sinclair of NECN television for airing during the 4:30 pm segment of the show this afternoon. Sinclair said that she has wanted to do a story about the Abyssinian for a long time now and this is the first opportunity it has worked out for both of them.
Meanwhile, employees of the Berwick, Maine-based Preservation Timber Framing co. have been putting up scaffolding around the building for the last week or so. Project Manager Scott Lewis said that as soon as all of the scaffolding is up the team will be able to replace the trim. Following that, the roof will be replaced. That should take 2 to 3 months, Lewis said. Working with Lewis today were Jessica Milneil and Shawn Perry.
The meetinghouse was built in the late 1820s and has served many purposes. It was the cultural center of the community. It served as a church and an important part of the underground railroad, a stable and more. In 1917, the meetinghouse was converted to apartment buildings. The city took the building for back taxes and in 1998 it deeded the building to the Committee for $250. According to Cummings it will have cost over $1,000,000. to restore the exterior of the building and it will cost that much as well to restore the interior of the building.
(editor’s note: MHN erroneously labeled the above photos. The description under the photo of Leonard Cummings should be under the top photo!)