THE MEETING HOUSE and THE NEW MARLBOROUGH VILLAGE ASSOCIATION: Scroll down for information
The NMVA’s mission is:
• To promote, on a continuing basis, the restoration, maintenance and
enhancement of the public space now or hereafter existing in the Village of
• To foster an interest in and appreciation of the natural beauty, historical
traditions, and architectural heritage of the area.
• To encourage activities and events intended to enhance the artistic,
cultural and civic life of New Marlborough Township.
• To undertake projects in furtherance of the foregoing, as well as to provide
a forum for the discussion of future needs.
The Association’s activities are focused on the historic New Marlborough Meeting House, which it has owned and maintained since 1976.
THE MEETING HOUSE
The Meeting House located on the New Marlborough Village Green is a classic Greek revival structure. It was designed by the Connecticut architect Henry A. Sykes and completed in 1839. The present structure was preceded by two earlier seventeenth century buildings on the same site, a first simple building dating back to the late 1740’s when the town was first settled and a more elaborate replacement to 1793. Just over forty years later, however, New Marlborough had become a prosperous farming community, and the congregation wanted (and were willing to pay for) a new building in the fashionable ecclesiastical style of the day.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, a slow decline in the fortunes of New Marlborough village began as the focus of the town’s economic activity swung from farming to manufacturing centered in Mill River and, to a lesser extent, Southfield. There followed long-term decline in both population and religious enthusiasm, which ultimately left the Meeting House congregation struggling to survive. By the middle of the twentieth century, religious services were held in the building only during the summer months, and in 1976 the Massachusetts Conference of Congregational Churches transferred responsibility and in 1995 clear title to the building to the New Marlborough Village Association.
From the standpoint of historical preservation, the good news is that scarcity of funds had prevented the Meeting House congregation from making any fundamental alterations to the building. The Village Association thus inherited, and works hard to maintain, an almost pristine example of the Greek revival style. Our challenge is to match that responsibility with a plan to utilize the building in the best interest of the community which supports the effort.
To reserve the Meeting House for an event,
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THE NEW MARLBOROUGH VILLAGE ASSOCIATION
Our roots date back to the 1960’s, when a group of New Marlborough neighbors formed the Village Green Association whose goal was to maintain and beautify the historic Village Green. In 1972 the group incorporated as the New Marlborough Village Association, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
In 1973 the Association purchased a parcel of land (.4 acre) south of the Green, effectively doubling the “Greenspace” at the village center. The Association continues to this day to oversee the maintenance of the Green.
By 1976 the historic Meeting House adjoining the Green to the west had become too much of a financial burden for its dwindling number of members to maintain, and the Association entered into an agreement to assume ownership of the building. Since then there has been a succession of projects aimed at restoring the beauty and structural integrity of the original Greek Revival design. The mid-1990’s and mid-2010’s saw major restoration projects which were funded by numerous local contributors and timely grants from agencies of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Since 1991 there have been annual activities in the Meeting House aimed at the entire community. First there was a concert series with the title Music for the Meeting House which had as its explicit aim the raising of funds for the restoration of the building (the most pressing issue was halting the gradual tilt to the north of the cupola and belfry). The addition of a literary component and family events to the series led to the changing of its title to Music (and More) for the Meeting House, subsequently shortened to its present Music and More.
The Gallery. In the late 1990’s two local artists urged the Association to consider renovating the basement of the building so that art classes and exhibits could be held there. This led to a large community effort at clearing out much debris and whitewashing the walls. The first exhibit took place in 1998. Subsequent improvements have included the installation of a new wood floor, a furnace, a de-humidifier, and professional gallery lighting. There are three shows annually, one of them featuring the work of New Marlborough artists. The Gallery is widely acknowledged to be one of the finest exhibit spaces in the area.
To reserve the Meeting House for an event, call 413.229.2785
BOARD MEMBERS 2020-21
Ben Harms, President
Judith Friedlander, Vice President
Will Regan, Clerk
Barry R. Shapiro, Treasurer
Paula M. Hatch