The present Strafford Universalist Church building was erected in 1833. Over the years it has seen a number of alterations and necessary repairs. Thanks to many benefactors, most notable Col. Curtis S. Barrettt, The Vermont Historic Preservation Trust, and many fundraisers over the years, the building has been well preserved.
After all the Strafford churches vacated the original Strafford meeting house, a union of the Universalists and the Free Will Baptists built the South Strafford Church. The first major renovation took place about 1865 when the Universalist bought out the Baptists. The renovation included turning the inside of the church around. Originally when you entered the church, you were at the pulpit end; now as you enter you are at the back of the sanctuary.
The box pews were replaced with hand-stenciled pews, with a center and side aisles. Two wood stoves were placed in the openings that had been entrance doors to the sanctuary, and a new central door was added. Flue pipes were run from the stoves to two new chimneys on the cemetery end of the building. The sanctuary was also carpeted around the new pews.
The next major renovation took place in 1919 when the large multi-paned window behind the pulpit was replaced with a commemorative half-circle colored glass window dedicated to Col. Barrett, who had left a very substantial legacy to the Church. This was followed by stained glass for all the church windows (right).
The following years saw upkeep in the way of painting, a new metal roof, some steeple repairs and general maintenance.
Starting in 2004 the Church building underwent extensive repair and maintenance:
- Removed the two failed chimneys at rear of church
- Removal of stove pipes
- Replaced girts and sleepers in Bell Tower
- Replaced front sill along porch
- Refurbished bell tower deck
- Sanctuary and ceiling plaster repaired
- Painted sanctuary and ceiling
- Replaced church roof
- New Roof on carriage shed
- Removed two large Maples with rotten cores
Ongoing maintenance includes periodic painting of the church and horse shed and care for the stained glass windows.
There is still more to do in the way of general repairs and upkeep. In addition, of primary concern is the lack of handicap accessibility. In winter months, a lift in Barrett Hall makes services accessible.
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