NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 6, 2013

Piece of Seabrook's past needs face-lift

SEABROOK — The Old South Meetinghouse stands like a guardian at Seabrook’s entryway, and for nearly 250 years has represented the town’s place in this nation better than any other local artifact.

But the old girl’s showing her age pretty badly. Many in town are hoping voters will come to her aid at the polls next Tuesday by approving warrant Article 34, which requests the money for much-needed restoration.

The $43,000 requested would replace the building’s white clapboards and restore the windows, bringing back the dignity of the edifice that was built in 1764. It’s located at the intersection of routes 1 and 107.

“The building has fallen into disrepair, especially on its south side,” said Seabrook Historical Society member Bruce Brown. “This building is historic and very important. It really tells how Seabrook came into being.”

The money would be spent on replacing the current deteriorating clapboards with cement clapboards. Similar replacements were used to renovate the exteriors of other historic buildings, like the Old Library and Town Hall in nearby Hampton Falls.

Cement clapboards are believed to be a good choice because, although they look the same as those made of wood, they’re more fire resistant and don’t need as much maintenance over the years. Given Old South Meetinghouse’s distinguished history, those with an eye on both and past and future believe the improvements would be well served.

Brown said although the land upon which Seabrook sits was originally claimed as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Seabrook’s struggle to cast its fate with New Hampshire goes back to 1740. It was then that a delegation of three commissioners traveled to England over the dispute, among them Nathaniel Weare, who was living in what would become Seabrook.

Weare convinced King George II that New Hampshire was more loyal to the crown than its neighbor to the south.

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