Newton’s Grace Episcopal Church to Receive Key Bell Tower Restoration Grant

As part of the grant, the fund will provide a multi-year partnership to consult with the church and optimize its use of space and improve community awareness.

The money will take the form of a matching grant, which means the church must raise the money itself before the grant funds are released, Walton said. The match will be dollar for dollar for the first $ 100,000 raised and dollar for two dollars raised for the remaining $ 150,000.

The church needs to demonstrate that it can fundraise consistently, “and it can come from a number of different sources,” said Scott Aquilina, the project manager for the tower restoration. “A lot of these are pledges from our parish, but some of the money comes from the community. “

In August, the city approved the church for another $ 1.43 million matching grant in Community Preservation Act funds due to the tower’s status as a historic monument and its significant structural instability.

“I can put my hands in the holes,” Aquilina said. “He’s in worse shape than he was a year ago.

The Community Preservation Act allows towns and cities in Massachusetts to levy a surtax of up to 3% – the rate is 1% in Newton – on property taxes to fund community projects.

PCA funds, which are partially offset by the state, can be used to create and maintain open spaces such as parks and fields, restoration of historic monuments, and affordable and community housing. Amounts for each category are pre-allocated each year, which means the church grant will not affect the money available for parks and affordable housing.

According to a 2018 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling, CPA funds can be used for projects that “do not substantially assist the church in its essential function” as a place of religious worship.

Aquilina said the grant money from the National Sacred Places Fund can be used to match the city’s CPA grant or used for other repairs that the city does not have funding for – such as 19th century bells. century housed in the tower and internal restorations – as well as other activities of the congregation.

For the repair of the bell, the church is partnering with the Verdun Bell Company, a family business based in Cincinnati.

“They are truly the premier historic bells restoration company,” Aquilina said.

The National Sacred Places Fund, a program in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, provides millions of dollars in grants to congregations across the country. Established in 2016, the fund is designed to provide grants to 50 places of worship over four years.

“There were about 300 congregations that sent a letter of interest,” Walton said. “In the end, they picked 15. We’re really, really honored to have been chosen for such a competitive grant.”

In addition to the Grace Episcopal Church in Newton, the fund this year provided grants to the famous Washington National Cathedral and St. John’s Lafayette Square in the District of Columbia, among other churches.

Grace has applied for the grant before and has always stood out as a candidate, said Allison King, grants manager for the National Fund for Sacred Places.

This year, Grace “has achieved that critical mass of needs and opportunities and the ability to follow through on what they plan,” King said.

Restoration of the church began on September 1. Currently, Aniceto Historical Restoration, a Milford-based contractor whom the church has hired for the restoration, is focused on preparing the steeple for upcoming stone work. Mortar cannot be poured at temperatures below freezing, Aquilina said, so masonry will begin in the spring.

“We are very, very, very blessed,” Aquilina said. “It is a miracle that we are in the position where we are.”

By Luca Becker and Jake Neenan can be contacted at [email protected]

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