Architectural detail of window arches on Old South Church in Boston

News & Announcements

The Finish Carpenter and the Archivist

A note from the Senior Minister:

I have the great privilege of working in a building with an Archivist and a Finish Carpenter. Does it get any better than that?

Our Archivist, Emily Ross, is with us twelve hours per week. For eight hours she toils away in our undercroft amongst sheaves of material. You see, we are an industrious church, forever churning out documents that need to be saved, sorted, dated, filed, researched, and sometimes bound. For her remaining four hours, Emily is over at The Congregational Library, deep in our materials there, reading handwritten records from 1884 through 1932 to help fill out those years in which our records are less accessible. While Emily is a full-service, expert archivist, her specialty is in old handwriting (of which we have an abundance). (See attached: Emily in our undercroft amongst the boxes.)

In addition, as August unfurls in humidity and flash floods, our old building is getting some attention in preparation for our 350th Anniversary. We want to look pretty for our birthday party! To that end, on site for two weeks is Stratton McCrady, a Finish Carpenter and, happily, Helen McCrady's brother. Stratton has refinished our interior front doors (they were coming apart), replaced the communion table's missing foot, rebuilt a broken pew, mended two deacon's benches, and reattached numerous wood bits throughout the sanctuary and Chapel (finials, angels, and such). He will next undertake safety adjustments to the pulpit steps, replace missing sections of the wooden railings in our Northeast Stairwell, repair or replace numerous hymnal racks, address two old doors that need some love, and fix and refinish some of our old tables. (See attached: Stratton McCrady at the doors.)

What I love most about Emily and Stratton: they both feel the honor of working in this elegant building at the crossroads of an historic past, a vibrant present, and a wide open future.

That's not all, with funds from our Capital Reserve and the Capital Campaign, we have completed the following summer projects:

Mary Norton Hall has been repainted. In addition, it has a new floor (asbestos encapsulated), beneath which has been laid a hearing loop. The new speaker system and retractable screen have been joined by a suspended, rear-projector.

The Guild Rooms also boast a new floor (asbestos encapsulated) while the aged and finicky room-divider has been rehung.

The Gordon Chapel walls have been repaired, sanded, and repainted.

Renovations to the Crawford Library are to commence on August 27th and will take some six weeks to complete. This will result in an accessible room with a new kitchen, accessible bathroom, smart screen, more seating, and furniture that can be configured for different kinds of meetings.

In addition, the Gordon House stairs, landings, and Club Room will soon have new flooring (asbestos encapsulated).

What's next:

Upgrades to our aged Sanctuary and Chapel lighting systems are in the queue as are masonry repairs to the (crumbling) exterior steps to the Gordon House.

This week the Music Committee and Trustees will receive a report from Mitchell Crawford, our Minister of Music, and Jonathan Ambrosino, our Organ Conservator, about proposed restoration plans for the E. M. Skinner organ. In the wake of Harry Huff's untimely death we held off any such work until we had a new Minister of Music to oversee the project. I think Harry will be pleased we are moving ahead.

Operations Committee member Sean O'Donnell is working with an outfit called Church Specialties to make needed repairs to the clapper of our 2000 pound Tower Bell. It gets a workout every Sunday morning (thanks to David Vogan who vigorously awakens the neighborhood to the new Sabbath morn) and at weddings to ring out wild celebration (thanks to Senior Sexton, Elias Perez).

I want to thank the chair of our Operations Committee, Chris Bocchiaro, for all the planning and minute detail that has gotten us to this work; David Albaugh our Building Manager who coordinates and oversees the onsite work; Helen McCrady who staffs the Operations Committee; Allison Moreland who takes excellent notes at the meetings and who brings a decorator's connections and eye to the work; Jessica Metz for whom this is a real busman's holiday; along with the other members of the Operations Committee: Lois Corman, Larry Bowers and Kurt Gaertner; the previous chairperson of Operations, Paul Kuenstner, who helped shape our 25-year capital needs plan. Thank you, one and all, for loving this old building and keeping it in shape for the hard and holy work of sheltering God and welcoming the world.

Also, profound thanks to: the Trustees for the discipline of a Capital Reserve Fund; the chairs of the Capital Campaign Committee, Wayne Davis and Todd Krohne; every single person, and every family, who supports this church's ministry with financial gifts. It truly takes a village.

These may be the dog days of summer but we are busy as bees.

- Nancy


Nancy S. Taylor

Senior Minister & CEO

Old South Church in Boston