Montville - The town took another step toward preserving one of its historical treasures Wednesday when the Montville Center Congregational Church was accepted to the state's Register of Historic Places.
The church sits on the corner of Raymond Hill Road and Meeting House Lane and dates to before the town existed. It was founded in 1722 as a grant to the inhabitants of the North Parish of New London.
The current church building was built in 1847 and has undergone no major changes since. It sits in the historic center of town.
The listing on the state's Register of Historic Places will allow the town to pursue state grants that will help it restore and preserve the church. The town acquired the church last year in a quit-claim deed.
"We share a belief that this building can be a great benefit to future generations of the town," town historian Jon Chase said of the people who have worked to preserve the church.
The parishioners intended to sell the church and a sister property in the 1990s. But a further look at the original deed showed it precluded a sale of the church to a private owner and it became vacant.
Before the town acquired it in May of last year, the church experienced leaks and other parts of the building fell into disrepair. The town's public works department and its historical society have since worked on some of the needed maintenance. Chase said the historical society also paid about $1,000 for the application to the state Register of Historic Places.
Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel Jr., former Mayor Joseph Jaskiewicz, Chase and historical society members on Wednesday traveled to Hartford and learned the state historic preservation council voted to include the church on its register.
"In this case it was fairly clear from our initial review of the property that the church itself was historically and architecturally significant," said Daniel Forrest, the state's deputy historic preservation officer. "It is fairly unusual for a church of that age to maintain as many of its original features and design elements as it has."
The church has no plumbing and is in need of some fairly extensive repairs. Chase said its roof would need new shingles. He added the town would pursue a grant through the state historic preservation office for about $25,000.
The listing on the state Register of Historic Places also is a necessity for the church to be considered for the national register. That could lead to additional grant opportunities.
The church ultimately could be used for expansion of the Raymond Hill Library or could be a key stop on a driving tour of the town.