Gardiner’s historic town hall has been just been given a facelift by volunteers from the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (a/k/a the Jehovah’s Witnesses). In a demonstration of civic-mindedness, the tax-exempt religious organization provided free labor to the town to powerwash, repair, prime and paint the entire exterior of the building.
“They did amazing work,” town supervisor Marybeth Majestic said at the August 8 town-board meeting.
According to the supervisor, the project took just under three weeks. The building’s white clapboard siding and green fishscale trim were powerwashed with a combination of “bleach and mildew-killer,” Majestic said. After allowing two days for the solution to dry off, the Watchtower volunteers examined the wood trim for areas of rot, which they removed and replaced. In one area, a badly pitched rain gutter was reset to direct water away from the exterior wall. Siding and trim were then sanded, primed and painted.
Built in 1875 as a one-room schoolhouse and expanded in 1895, the Queen Anne-style structure continued to serve Gardiner as an elementary school until 1981. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000 and underwent a major renovation in 2005. The Watchtower project repainted the formerly white window trim in a more historically authentic forest green seen in old photographs
Majestic noted that the town hall had remained open to the public during normal service hours during the project. “Their safety measures were over the top,” she said. She estimated that the Gardiner would have had to shell out about $40,000 for the sprucing-up if the labor had not been donated. About $6000 worth of materials cost were covered by a dedicated fund that the town had set aside several years ago for maintenance and repairs of the town hall.
“This was a major priority for me when I was elected,” said Majestic, who has taken a strong interest in the preservation of the building since her days as president of the Gardiner Historical Society. “I’m very grateful to our friends and neighbors at Watchtower for an incredible job done.”