GLENN HUTCHINSON, Bath Savings Institution president and CEO, presents Lorena Coffin, executive director of Sagadahoc Preservation Inc., with a $10,000 donation for the renovation project at Winter Street Center.

GLENN HUTCHINSON, Bath Savings Institution president and CEO, presents Lorena Coffin, executive director of Sagadahoc Preservation Inc., with a $10,000 donation for the renovation project at Winter Street Center.

BATH

Renovations to Winter Street Center on 880 Washington St. will soon be underway.

Sagadahoc Preservation Inc., who owns and manages the former church building, announced on Thursday at a press conference that it will be commencing the first phase of construction for the sanctuary this spring.

This past August the vaulted ceiling in the sanctuary had collapsed during a storm.

“Winter Street Center is a key part of the character of downtown Bath,” said SPI President Larry Bartlett.

He added that trying to imagine the community without the building would be “akin to looking at a smiling hockey player whose front teeth are missing,” which drew laughs from the crowd.

SPI has chosen Preservation Timber Framing Inc. of Berwick to serve as the construction contractor for the first phase of the project, which is expected to be completed by April or May.

The project will include the removal of debris from the collapsed ceiling and evaluations of the ceiling frame and plaster, which will be removed to examine previous stenciling and paint work.

Bartlett said a timber scaffolding will also be constructed to access the remaining ceiling at its highest point of 27 feet. The staging will also remain for the second phase of restoration work.

Funding for the first phase will cost $100,000, which is “a lot of money, but it’s money well spent,” Bartlett said.

Bath Savings Institution has donated $10,000 toward the project.

“As a community bank, we are constantly supporting local organizations that benefit the community and this is one of those projects — preserving the architectural heritage in the city, which helps everybody in the city and improves their quality of life,” Glenn Hutchinson, Bath Savings president and CEO, said about the contribution. “It’s one of the most photographed landmarks in Bath, so preserving it I think helps all of the citizens in the region.”

City Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco was also pleased with the proposed renovations on Thursday.

Her mother, Martha Mayo, shared that Eosco’s wedding was the last event to take place at the facility about 10 years ago. Mayo had even borrowed white hard hats for guests from Bath Iron Works because of the crumbling ceiling.

“I am so excited,” Eosco said. “That’s why we got married in there because we wanted to bring awareness to the sanctuary, and Dan and I both felt like there were so many opportunities there.”

Bartlett said they would consider using the newly renovated space to hold events like business meetings or weddings.

“We’ve done a fair bit of research and everything that we hear seems to point to the need in this greater community for meeting spaces of the size that this facility could accommodate,” he said.

When asked whether the pews would remain, Bartlett said it was a decision that would need to undergo more evaluation.

SPI was formed in 1971 to save the Winter Street Congregational Church building from destruction, and it purchased the facility for $5,000 and renamed the building complex Winter Street Center. Over the years, the group has worked to preserve the facility through restorations and maintenance repairs.

The building was designed and built by Anthony Raymond in 1843. The church was expanded in 1864, with an adjoining parish hall that was designed by Francis Fassett. Fassett’s student John Calvin Stevens later designed and oversaw the renovation of the sanctuary in 1890.

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