Current Restoration Project

We are thrilled and grateful to report that the Save America's Treasures campaign to restore the Meeting House has been a huge success! Both the members of Old Ship Church and the community-based Friends of Old Ship have combined to raise over $600,000, which is being matched by $350,000 from the National Parks Service, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Massachusetts Preservation Fund. Phase One of the restoration work was completed in 2009; Phase Two (including shoring up the timbers, replacing electrical systems, expanding fire protection and security systems, replastering and painting the interior) was accomplished in 2011; Phase Three (restoring the windows, foundation work and painting the exterior) will be completed in 2012.

Click here to see photographs of the restoration in progress.

Restoration Background

The Meeting House was last restored extensively in 1930. In 2005, the citizens of Hingham at their annual Town Meeting approved funding from the Community Preservation Historic Resources Fund to finance a Historic Structure Report of the Old Ship Meeting House to determine its current condition. This extensive review was completed in 2007. Completing the restoration projects identified in the 2007 Historic Structure Report will make it possible to maintain the building into the future through an ongoing preservation maintenance program.

The first projects completed in 2009 were replacing and restoring the roof and updating the lightning protection system.

The timber frame of the meeting house dates to 1681, 1730 and 1755, and is likely the most important surviving 17th century timber frame in America. Structural deficiencies of the historic timber frame were addressed by reinforcing key timbers with steel beams in the attic.

Much of the work done during the summer of 2010 addressed safety issues: we removed asbestos, rewired and replaced the electrical system, expanded the sprinkler system, and upgraded the fire detection and alarm system. Plus, master craftsmen repaired interior trim and replastered and painted the interior walls.
During the investigation for the Historic Structure Report in 2007, the original 1681 double door entrance was discovered under the 1755 Georgian windows. Perhaps the only 17th century door that survives in its original exterior wall, there is strong interest in protecting this architectural element and making it possible for historians, scholars and citizens to view and study the doors from the exterior of the building. A protective enclosure is planned. 
The beautiful arched 1755 Georgian double windows in the west wall are in need of immediate conservation, which will include paint removal from the exterior casings and sashes, dutchmen repairs, and replacement of deteriorated wooden elements, glass replacement, and installation of protective glazing. 

The 38 diamond-paned wooden windows require replacement of deteriorated wooden elements, caulking and painting of exterior and interior sashes, replacement and repair of locks, weights, sashes, etc. to insure the safety and proper operation of these windows. 

Other exterior envelope repairs will include: repointing the stone foundation, repairing the sill and brick entrance, replacing the deteriorated wooden door on the north side of the east entry, repair the exterior clapboards, and exterior painting. 

The Meeting House continues to reveal unexpected secrets! From the hidden 1681 doors, to a paint chip in the entry way from 1755 and a large square of wallpaper from 1869, the restoration has provided exciting proof of the transformations that have occurred over the last 300 years.

Thanks to the generous financial support of our community, this unique American architectural landmark will continue to be used as a place of public assembly and worship for future generations as it has for the last 329 years.

We continue to seek contributions for the long-term preservation of this National Historic Landmark treasure. Help us Save the Past for the Future! Click here to donate..