The town of Alna’s historic buildings – a 228-year-old meetinghouse and two one-room schoolhouses – need repairs to address existing issues and prevent more damage.
The Alna Board of Selectmen reviewed an Oct. 10 report by Doreen Conboy, archivist of the Committee for Alna History, during its meeting Wednesday, Oct. 11.
Of the three buildings, perhaps none needs as much attention as Center School, a 1796 one-room schoolhouse on Alna Road.
“There is spreading rot in the support structure holding the bell in the bell tower,” according to the report. “The ceiling interior shows a spot that is suspect and needs investigation to see if there is water damage above from the bell tower.”
The town needs to rebuild the front steps and replace or restore all the windows. Artifacts in the school, such as books and other instructional materials, need protection from moisture and pests.
Other issues include rot around the front door, a front hall in need of a paint job, and out-of-date records of the building’s contents.
Center School is open by appointment only and is not otherwise in use.
The Village School at Puddledock is another one-room schoolhouse at the corner of Dock Road and Head Tide Road.
The 1874 building was in use as a school until 1962 and as the town office from 1998 until the town office’s relocation to the Webster Homestead on Alna Road, according to the town website. It is not currently in use.
“The front of the building is sagging noticeably and needs sills replaced, rotten clapboards replaced, and the exterior needs repair in spots and a new paint job,” according to the report. “The windows need repair, reglazing, and repainting.”
The building also needs a more extensive inspection.
The Alna Meetinghouse is the oldest of the buildings and the only one presently in use. The 1789 building on Alna Road is on the National Register of Historic Places. A former church, it hosts the occasional special town meeting and is available for rental for weddings and other events.
The meetinghouse has had the most attention of the three buildings in recent years, but significant tasks remain on the to-do list.
The town needs to rebuild a horse-tie railing around the building, according to the report. The ceiling and interior walls need to be scraped and painted, as well as repaired in spots.
In addition to the concerns it raises, the report details the work of many volunteers to complete past repairs to the buildings.
Recent projects include this year’s construction of new steps for the meetinghouse and the Village School at Puddledock by Bob Owens. Owens donated all his time and most of the materials for the work.
As part of the ongoing Sash Project, some 15 volunteers have restored 33 of the 34 windows in the meetinghouse.
The selectmen discussed recruiting more volunteers to help with both physical labor and writing grants. A few residents in attendance at the meeting expressed interest in volunteering and in using the idle buildings.