Cooperstown church gets funds for drainage work

The First Baptist Church of Cooperstown is seen in this undated photo

The First Baptist Church of Cooperstown will receive a $2,000 grant from the New York Landmarks Conservancy to help fund drainage improvements on its property, as announced by the conservancy Wednesday.

This is one of 23 of the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Grants awarded to historic religious properties throughout the state, according to a media release by the organization. All of the grants total $256,000. Since 1986, the program has pledged nearly 1,500 grants totaling more than $11.1 million to almost 805 religious institutions statewide, according to the release.

The sites won’t get the money until they are ready to begin work, which could take up to a year, said Ann Friedman, Sacred Sites director of conservancy to The Daily Star on Thursday. New York Landmarks Conservancy pledges a grant of up to 50% of a site’s project, Friedman said. The site then has one year to match New York Landmarks Conservancy’s grant. Once the site does this and actually signs with a contractor to begin work, New York Landmarks Conservancy sends them a check. Friedman said the First Baptist Church of Cooperstown’s project totals $5,000, roughly. Multiple calls to the First Baptist Church of Cooperstown for comment were not returned. The church’s project will amend the issue of drainage from the roof running down to the church’s basement, causing mold to accumulate in the elevator, Friedman said. She said the church plans to dig an 80-foot trench along one side of the building and install a dry well that will provide a reservoir for the roof drainage, rather than having it coming back into the building.

The First Baptist Church of Cooperstown was constructed in 1889 and is one of six historic churches in the village, according to the release. Wooden decorative elements on the bell tower remain, as well as a slate roof and bell. The sanctuary’s interior is Eastlake style, a late 19th century furniture style that deviated from the typical designs of that time frame, and it has “Akron Plan” seating. Outside of its worship services, the congregation reaches 500 people a year through activities such as 12-step meetings, Weight Watchers, healthcare outreach, a tutoring program and yoga classes, according to the release.

“We recognize religious buildings are serving not just their religious membership, but also acting as a community center, providing social services and cultural programs on a scale that’s sort of out-sized relative to their membership,” Friedman said. “These buildings are not only important architecturally and historically, but also because of the people they serve.”

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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