CONWAY – Active members of the Conway United Congregational Church have approved a design and plan for a new chapel and hope to have shovels in the ground by the thaw next spring.
The church was damaged beyond repair by the February 2017 tornado that ravaged Pumpkin Hollow. It was demolished in November 2018. The new chapel will be based on the footprint of its predecessor at 44 Whately Road.
Reverend Candice Ashenden explained that the congregation is now â€œdoing the legworkâ€, referring to obtaining the necessary permits. She said she worked with Deerfield contractor Thayer Street Associates. The architect is Richard E. Katsanos of H / AI Architecture of Northampton.
Ashenden said voting on a design and plan boosts morale among worshipers.
â€œThe congregation is very excited to be ready to move forward and we are happy to have finally reached consensus on what will follow,â€ she said.
Ashenden, who has pastored Conway UCC for more than 15 years, said the church is working with $ 1 million in insurance after paying for the demolition and related expenses. That, she said, is not a lot to build a two-story building. Church members considered starting construction earlier than next year, but figured they would receive better deals and better prices if they didn’t rush the project.
The pastor said the impending building will be a “typical New England chapel with some modern touches.” She mentioned that the ground floor will be a public access space and the ground floor will be a mechanical space. Ashenden said the building will include bathrooms, a chapel that seats 40 and what is essentially a residential-sized kitchen. She said there would “probably be small adjustments as we go.”
â€œIt will be significantly reduced from the size of the previous chapel,â€ she said, adding that it was out of necessity. â€œDriven by our financial budget and the current needs of the congregation. “
Three stained glass windows from the old building have been spared and will form part of the new chapel.
Ashenden said the decision was due to an active membership vote at a specially called meeting at Conway Grammar School on June 2. She said the church had 28 active members and 22 of them were in attendance that day. There was one abstention and no negative vote for the proposed design.
She mentioned that the church will likely hold a fundraiser in the future to help buy furniture “because we pretty much use our entire budget on construction.”
Contact Domenic Poli at: [email protected] or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.