A fundraising campaign to save the First Congregational Church of East Machias is two-thirds of the way toward its goal. Photo by Jason Overby

TV documentary of East Machias church restoration to proceed this summer

 The fundraising and planning for the restoration of the First Congregational Church of East Machias has met its initial goal with great success. A final decision has been made to proceed with the TV documentary filming of the church’s restoration this summer.  

According to Michael Henry, spokesperson for Friends of First Congregational Church of East Machias: “There is still more fundraising to do, but our results to date give us confidence that we will be successful. We are grateful for the overwhelming support and generosity of our many donors. We now have several months to raise the balance. This is shaping up to be a special project for the entire community. Engineering will proceed immediately. We have made commitments for construction and restoration work to start in late Spring. We are looking forward to the work ahead.” 

Erica Famous, volunteer fundraising coordinator for the Friends group, reported: “Since starting this very fast-paced project less than three weeks ago, we already have over  125 donations for two-thirds of our restoration budget. The amount of community support for this project has been incredible.”  

The First Congregational Church of East Machias has long been recognized as a  special Maine building in peril. This historically important church, built-in 1836, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. The church was recently named to Maine Preservation Society’s 2022 List of Maine’s Most Endangered  Buildings.  

“Today it is among the most critically threatened architectural resources in the State of  Maine,” said Tara Kelly, executive director of Maine Preservation. “Structural damage to  steeple timbers has resulted in a dangerous level of instability, and if immediate action  is not taken it will soon be beyond repair.”  

This project went into high gear in January when a national cable company expressed interest in filming the restoration of this landmark for a one-hour television special. The filming contract could only be agreed to if the community could immediately line up construction finances and qualified tradespeople to complete the work by the end of  August. With the successful community effort now well advanced, the parties made the final decision on February 14 to move forward. The film production company plans ten or more filming days spread over this spring and summer. The production project will bring significant positive attention to Washington County, with millions of views across America. 

Over $75,000 is still needed to complete the fundraising effort.  

How to help:

  1. To make a tax-deductible donation visit this GoFundMe page, “East Machias Church Steeple” https://www.gofundme.com/f/church-steeple-rescue?qid=fe8c28183d0a492711c....

  2. Check donations can be made payable to First Congregational Church of East  Machias Restoration Fund. Mail should be directed to: Friends of the First Congregational Church of East  Machias P.O. Box 68, East Machias, Maine 04630  

  3. Funds may be directly deposited at Machias Savings Bank made payable to the First Congregational Church of East Machias Restoration Fund. 

  4. To volunteer with the fundraising effort please email:  [email protected]

 

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