The First Church of Squantum is getting a face lift.
QUINCY — Construction has started at a Squantum church on Bellevue Road that is seeing its first major renovation in more than 70 years.
First Church of Squantum, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014, has started the first phase of a three-step renovation to create a more welcoming entry way, update the building and expand common spaces in what Rev. Doug Gray says is a growing parish.
“We are growing here which I know isn’t what you’d expect. I’ve been here seven years, and we’ve seen net growth every year. We almost lost the church in 2006, so that has been really encouraging,” Gray said of the increased membership, which is now about 75 parishioners. “Churches are a little like plants — if you put them in a bigger pot, they will grow to fit it.”
The church was first built in 1914 with a chapel on the main floor, a small third floor looking over the chapel and community room below. In 1949, an expansion added a sitting room and foyer on the main level and small kitchen to the community room. The kitchen was renovated in the 1980s, but no major work has been done since.
Gray said the church found itself in need of maintenance work about five years ago, when waterproofing around the basement level bathrooms started to fail. Because the bathrooms are situated directly below the main entrance — marked by bright red doors with stained glass windows — the repairs will require tearing out the front steps.
“That got us thinking — we could do better,” Gray said. “If we’re tearing it up anyway, lets seize that opportunity.”
Church officials came up with a three-phase plan to modernize the church, the first of which started this week. Phase one involves repairs to the bathroom, restoring the red front doors, adding a long handicap ramp that will start at the corner of Bellevue and Huckins streets, and adding an enclosed glass vestibule to serve as a new front entrance, which Grey hopes will be more welcoming than the current set up, which is hidden behind a holly tree.
Phase two will involve knocking out a wall at the back of the chapel to make the entry hallway bigger, and replacing it with glass. Phase two will also install an elevator, which the building currently doesn’t have, and update the kitchen. Phase three will renovate the large community hall downstairs, which also serves as the practice space for the Brady Academy of Irish Dance.
The first phase of the renovation is expected to cost between $140,000 and $150,000, Gray said. A capital campaign raised almost $110,000, and the church has a loan to cover the rest. Gray said a member of the church is also donating his services as a general contractor. The second and third phases have not yet been priced out.
“We’re trying to set this church and this parish up for the next generation,” Gray said.
Reach Mary Whitfill at [email protected]