The Early History

The Brookline Baptist Church at 632 Grassy Brook Road was built in 1836, and like the Round Schoolhouse up the road, served a vital role in the life of the village for well over a century. As rural Vermont lost population in the 1900’s, Church membership declined, and the Brookline Church discontinued regular services in 1945. It continued to host weddings, funerals, occasional church services, and other social gatherings over the following decades.

The Ladies Benevolent Society, a Church auxiliary group, continued to care for the building, holding frequent craft sales, bake sales, dinners, and raffles to raise money for maintenance needs and repairs.

The Later History

By 2009, the Ladies Benevolent Society was dwindling in number at the same time that the needs of the building were becoming more dire. The group incorporated as a non-profit, opening membership to anyone interested in historic preservation and community building. Thus was born the Historic Brookline Church Preservation Initiative, widening the base of support for the work of keeping the building viable.

Town Ownership

In 2014, by vote of Town Meeting, residents of Brookline assumed ownership of the Historic Brookline Church, and a committee of volunteers was appointed to carry on the work of maintaining and restoring the building and reimagining its future as a gathering place and event space for the residents of Brookline and the surrounding area.

In 2016, townspeople voted to change the name of the building to the Brookline Meetinghouse, to better reflect the consensus vision for the building.

Major Projects Completed So Far…

  • The 11 windows on both sides and the front of the church were completely restored in 2016, with help from a grant from the Windham Foundation.
  • In the largest single project to date, heavy timber repairs were done to the foundation and the belfry in 2016, ensuring the stability of the structure for another 200 years, with half the cost paid from the Ladies Benevolent Society bequest and the other half by Town Meeting vote.
  • The roof of the belfry was replaced in 2017, with new balustrades and pinnacles, thanks in part to a grant from the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation

There is Still Much To Do…

Your contribution to the Meetinghouse Restoration Fund will help us address the following priorities…

  • Exterior painting of the steeple and repairs to flashing — With your help, we will have the funds in hand to complete this work in 2020.
  • The 1890’s addition on the back of the church, which contains a large meeting room in addition to a kitchen and bathroom, needs a new foundation in addition to exterior painting.
  • Windows and doors, heating system, and kitchen appliances in the addition all need upgrading to make this a facility that is safe and comfortable to use at all times of year.
  • We need to provide a fully accessible entrance.
  • The building interior needs a cosmetic makeover — mold removal, plaster repair, and painting.

Why Historic Preservation?

Historic preservationist Jan Lewandowski, in the course of a detailed assessment of the Church, commented:

“The Church is in a remarkable state of preservation, both inside and out… I would like to emphasize that there are few churches in the state as unaltered as the Brookline Baptist, and the congregation and the Ladies Benevolent Society should be congratulated and encouraged for their careful stewardship.”

Jan Lewandowski, Historic Preservationist

Indeed, we have a “diamond in the rough” here in our little town, one that is not only worthy of saving, but one that, with some work, could once again be the social and cultural centerpiece of Brookline, a place that we could all take pride in.

Financial Contributions:

Restoration funding for meetinghouse renovations have come from individual donators, grants from The Windham Foundation, the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation and, most recently, ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) Funds.
Please send donations:
c/o Town of Brookline
P.O. Box 403
Brookline, VT 05345
(please put note on check for “Brookline Meetinghouse”).

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