MEXICO — It took awhile – years in fact. But the United Church of Christ, often called the Congregational Church, now has an elevator.
Known as the Green Church by many in the area, the installation and the official state inspection were completed early Thursday afternoon.
“We’ll have some kind of event to celebrate,” said Charlene Pidacks, chairwoman of the church’s Board of Trustees. “This just needed to happen.”
Efforts to raise the $30,000-plus required to install the three-person elevator began several years ago with the help of some funding received on behalf of deceased church members.
The trustees also sent letters requesting donations to the six or eight local organizations that regularly use the church to meet, as well as to the church’s membership. Slowly over the years, the money trickled in.
Thursday was a great day for the church membership and the trustees who oversee the building.
“The dining room is down here (in the basement) and in the past, it wasn’t accessible by wheelchair,” said Norbert Rose, a 55-year member of the church and one of the trustees. “It’s been a big problem for some people. There was the risk of people falling. This is going to be great.”
Besides regular use of the basement by groups, it is often used for wedding and baby showers and similar events.
Similar to many churches, a significant number of its members are older.
The elevator serves the basement and first floor of the church. It will hold up to 750 pounds, or a wheelchairbound person and one other, or three people.
It was installed in the corner of the basement that faces Mitchell and Main streets. To create the space needed, a portion of the food pantry in the basement had to be sacrificed as did a section of the ladies’ parlor on the first floor.
People from Mexico, Rumford, Roxbury and Byron use the food pantry, Sue Byam said.
Much of the carpentry and painting work required to make the adjustments was done by church members Duane Waterhouse and Michael True, and others, Pidacks said.
“A lot of people volunteered. George Byam (a trustee) organized everything,” she said.
Pidacks and Byam took the first “trip” from the basement to the first floor. When they came back down, the virtually noiseless elevator opened to the sound of gentle chimes.
The elevator, which got last minute touches by Jim Grenier on Thursday morning, was bought from Garaventa Lifts of Manchester, N.H., and British Columbia, Canada.
“It’s very nice,” Pidacks said. “It’s been a long time coming and has been a real success story.”