Originally built as a Methodist Episcopal meetinghouse in 1850, this Stratford Hollow landmark started out as a typical Gothic and Greek Revival church. It was extensively renovated in 1896, with the congregation adding shingles, stained glass windows, pressed tin walls, and new pews. But, like many smaller congregations in New Hampshire, membership dwindled and the building became a burden. By 2000, the congregation voted to sell their home to the Cohos Historical Society.
The Society started off strong – the building received a new roof, steeple repair, electrical upgrades, and was listed to the State Register of Historic Places. But then that group tired and the Historical Society nearly went defunct.
A revival of sorts happened a few years ago and new members recommitted themselves to preserving this special North Country place. They built up their bank account and started annual fundraisers like Hollow-ween. The Cohos Historical Society recently had a Preservation Alliance-funded assessment done of the building, which shows immediate and mid-range necessary work totaling more than $250,000. “As one of New Hampshire’s poorest communities – and with a population of only 700 people – that number is a lot to digest. But we’re hopeful for an LCHIP grant this year to start important structural work and drainage improvements,” says president Jamie Davis.
“Eventually, we plan to restore the stained glass windows – many of which were damaged in 1923, when a fire broke out next door to the church. After all is done, we’re excited about getting our community’s museum and gathering spot back open to the public.”