PORTSMOUTH - Our most treasured buildings in Portsmouth have stood the test of time, but as most structures, they need help to continue to stand for generations to come. Such is currently unfolding for the historic church located at 101 Chapel St.
In 1732 a wooden church named Queen’s Chapel was erected on the site of St. John’s. After the Revolution, it took the name St. John’s Church. On Dec. 24, 1806, a tragic fire destroyed more than 300 buildings in Portsmouth, including the original wooden structure of St. John’s. The parishioners immediately began raising funds to erect the present brick church. The cornerstone was laid on June 24, 1807; 146 years later a new Parish House, Thaxter Hall, was built beside the church.
Today, St. John’s stands as the oldest Episcopal Parish and the first brick church building of any denomination in New Hampshire, and in 1978 was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Brattle Organ, located in St. John’s South Gallery, is the oldest operative pipe organ in the United States. The church bell was so badly damaged in the 1806 fire it was sent to Paul Revere in Boston for restoration. It hangs in St. John’s bell tower ringing for all to hear to this day.
To ensure its standing as a vibrant Portsmouth community resource and landmark, St. John’s has initiated a capital campaign to preserve, protect and maintain this historical and wonderful facility. Information about the campaign, with a goal of $1,600,000, is available here: https://www.givingsites.com/connected/
The rehabilitation and restoration of the sanctuary includes replacing the 30-plus-year-old roof, electrical upgrades to the 60-plus-year-old wiring and panels and plumbing improvements to include restroom ADA compliance. These repairs and restorations, particularly to the roof and infrastructure, must be made to protect and preserve St. John’s Church for generations.
The Thaxter Hall part of the project will help to create a gracious multipurpose gathering space for the 1,000 plus folks per week (not including parishioners) who use the hall, by providing new lighting, ceiling, and windows, improved storage, and stair repair. Thaxter Hall will also be connected to the Church buildings and an elevator will be added to provide accessibility for all.
St. John’s is proud to report that through much hard work and the generous support of its parishioners, staff and clergy, it is well on the way to reaching its project funding goal. As of publication time, it has raised $1,339,686.
St. John’s asks for and looks forward to the support of the groups that make use of Thaxter Hall to assist in keeping this wonderful well-utilized facility much improved, well-maintained and operational. St. John’s would also very much appreciate the help and support of the community and neighbors. Any monetary contribution you can give for these much needed rehabilitation/restoration projects will be greatly appreciated.
Checks can be mailed to St. John’s Church, 100 Chapel St., Portsmouth, NH 03801.
Further information is available online at http://www.stjohnsnh.org/capital-campaign
or you may call (603) 436-8283 and email firstname.lastname@example.org