Trinity of Organizations Partner to Save Historic New Bedford Church
The birthplace of Robert's Rules of Order has a savior in an unlikely partnership.
The decaying First Baptist Church on William Street has entered a purchase and sale agreement with the Waterfront Historic Area League and Your Theatre, Inc. that will bring about a $1.8 million restoration effort. The agreement will allow the congregation to remain at the church, while Your Theatre will use what is now the main sanctuary as rehearsal and performance space.
Sue Richards of Your Theatre says it's an exciting new chapter for both the theater group and the church. "We're going to, together, find a way to make everything work out for both us. It's exciting. It's terrifying. But, I know that we're all up to the task," said Richards.
Teri Bernert, Executive Director of WHALE, says the partnership is beneficial to both parties, since Your Theatre has been looking for a permanent home for nearly 70 years, and the church faces it's own troubles. "This problem is happening across the country of these beautiful, historic, religious buildings that the congregations are doing their best to keep their buildings up, but it just costs a lot of money."
WHALE will act as project manager, applying for grants and historic tax credits for the restoration of the church.
The First Baptist Church was named a national treasure earlier this year by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.