SANDOWN – During Old Home Days, residents will have a chance not only to tour one of the town’s most treasured historical buildings but also to attend a non-denominational service inside a structure that has been hosting services and community events for 239 years.
An open house takes place on Saturday, Aug. 10, from 2 to 4 p.m. If you need a break from the busy-ness of the grounds behind Central School, where most of the weekend’s activities take place, members of the Old Meeting House Historical Association will tell you that the place to come is up the hill on Fremont Road. It’s quiet and cool inside and local experts Arlene and Eleanor Bassett can provide a few of the stories the building can tell.
The Old Meetinghouse was erected in 1773 and has remained mostly unchanged through the following centuries, a rarity that has helped put the building on both the national and state historic registers. It was built when Sandown’s population was just over 600, when residents decided the town was getting too populous for the old meetinghouse.
For more than a century the building was used for both religious and secular activities, for everything from schooling, to dancing, to a political center. Today the building holds open houses twice a year, and is often used as a picturesque wedding site. It has been featured prominently in Paul Wainwright’s book of black and white photographs, “A Space for Faith: the Colonial Meetinghouses of New England.”
On Sunday, Aug. 11, a traditional non-denominational service takes place at the Meetinghouse at 11 a.m. Guest speaker will be Republican State Senator Russell Prescott. Immediately following the service will be a pot roast dinner at St. Matthew’s Church. The dinner is by reservation only, and tickets are $9 per adult and $5 per school-age child, 12 and under. Pre-school children eat free. To make reservations, call Arlene Bassett at 887-3453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.