WOODSTOCK — The Board of Selectmen agreed Tuesday evening to wait before having the vacant Union Church on Andrews Road dismantled.

The church, which sits on 0.6 of an acre, was built in 1856 and has not been used for decades. The original contents have been removed. 

In 2014, residents voted to have a committee decide its fate and after several meetings the committee agreed it should come down and a parking lot and memorial built.

At the board’s Aug. 18 meeting, Alison Aloisio,  editor of the Bethel Citizen, told Town Manager Vern Maxfield and selectmen she was writing a story about someone who disassembles old buildings.

Maxfield said he met with J. Scott Campbell, who runs Maine Mountain Post and Beam in Fryeburg, which dismantles, documents, repairs and reassembles antique timber frames. The two looked at the timbers and foundation of the church.

Campbell was interested, but since he had a long list of other projects to complete, he couldn’t commit to removing the building, Maxfield said.

“He did tell us that he knows of other people who take buildings, strip (them) down for their parts and sell (them) to people who are looking to build a home or a building with old material,” Maxfield said.

Selectman Stephen Bies said, “I know that there are people here who would be really, really pained to see it demolished.”

“The beauty of this thing is that we’re not crunched for time,” Chairman Ron Deegan said. “We can afford to give it a few weeks and see what happens. Maybe we can get a list of other businesses that would dismantle old buildings. We don’t have to rush with this.”

Selectman Mike Nadeau said he would love to see a local landscaper “come in and do something with the building and that land. The graveyard across the street from that building doesn’t have a good parking lot. I’d love to see the town come together, dismantle the building and use the materials to make something nice on that plot of land.”

Nadeau said the town could take the foundation and “make some nice benches.”

“The last thing I want to see is someone going in there with an excavator and tearing down the building,” he said. “I’d like to see a touch of class used with that land. It would be nice to come around the corner onto Andrews Road and see a nice lot with gardens, benches, shrubs and other things like that.”

Deegan said the committee “had the same vision.”

“That’s good to hear,” Nadeau said. “If we’re going to disassemble the building, let’s get someone from Woodstock to do the work. Let’s make that area a nice place to be. We could reach out to residents and see if anyone wants to do something. I would even donate the use of some of my machines to make it happen.”

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