First Unitarian Society in Newton

About Us / History and Building / 2009 Preservation Award

Historic Preservation Award Honors FUSN Renovation


The Newton History Museum, in collaboration with the Newton Historical Commission, presented a 2009 Newton Preservation Award to FUSN Nov. 19, honoring the society’s renovation of its historic church.

Architectural drawings of FUSN's building.

FUSN Buildings & Grounds chair Laurel Farnsworth, Board of Trustees chair Adrian Bishop, and architect and FUSN member Treff LeFleche were on hand to receive the award. The free, public event was held at Boston College Alumni House, 825 Center Street, Newton Mass.

FUSN was founded in 1848, and, by 1906, the well-known firm of Cram, Goodhue & Ferguson had been commissioned to design the new American Gothic style building crowned by a square bell tower. Mid-century growth spurred the addition of a children’s chapel, new parish kitchen, and classrooms. The building is now listed in the National Historic Register.

FUSN worked with LDa Architects, first on the capital campaign feasibility studies in 2005-2006, then the firm provided design and construction administration services for the project.

The renovation was possible because of the contributions to the $1.1 million Capital Campaign headed by this committee: Tom Bean and Patsy Leibensperger, co-chairs; Marion Bullitt, treasurer; Alan Cody; Elli Crocker; Judy Curby; Laurel Farnsworth; James Ford; Bruce Holbein; Bill Horne; Treff LaFleche; Peter Lloyd; Alice Nichols; Phil Park; Bob Persons; Gayle Smalley; Jacki Rohan; Garrow Throop; and Peter Witt.

Exterior work included the restoration of the original slate roof, copper flashing, gutters and downspouts; restoration of original decorative architectural copper details; restoration of exterior entry doors; identification and repair of roof and masonry water penetration issues; and restoration of masonry buttresses.

Interior work included restoration of the stained glass window in the south facade; a new lighting and sound system to enhance the service experience; water damage repair; restoration of original sanctuary pendant lighting; new sanctuary lighting; interior plaster and masonry restoration; flooring restoration as well as complete refinishing of the plaster paint finish.

The renovation included a replacement of the east side Narthex door, which was custom-fabricated to match the original architectural design. The committee estimated that the door had been opened more than a million times during its 100-year lifespan for Sunday services, weddings, funerals, and many special events.

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