Town Meeting approves purchase of historic church

Last Saturday, Town Meeting representatives authorized the purchase of a historic church downtown for use as a performing arts center, tapping the community preservation fund for $650,000. The amount will cover the $365,000 purchase price of what in recent years has been the Congregation Beth Jacob Community Center, and will supply $285,000 for installation of handicapped-accessible bathrooms, a sprinkler system, and another emergency exit. The building was originally a Methodist Episcopal Church, built in the 1880s in the bustling Court Square. Its design, featuring “austere white woodwork and soaring spires,” reflects classic New England style, according to local historian James Baker, who provided the Community Preservation Committee a written background on the church. The former church will be easily converted to a theater, according to Community Preservation Committee chairman William Keohan. Its interior seats 200 and features a 55-foot stage.