EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 18, 2014

North Parish Church begins expansion project

NORTH ANDOVER — The North Parish Church, the most prominent fixture in the Old Center, has been around for nearly 400 years, yet it continues to grow.

The church has been growing so much that it has just begun to expand its quarters at the head of Great Pond Road. Debb Putnam, co-chairwoman of the Building Task Force, told The Eagle-Tribune the religious education section at the rear of the church will be replaced with a structure that will be twice as large.

The project will also include the construction of a lobby as well as renovations that will make it fully accessible, she said.

Church members began talking about expansion back in 1999, Putnam said. Even then, “We were out of room,” she said, adding, “That is a good problem to have.” They encountered some challenges, including drainage and historic preservation issues, she said.

The congregation temporarily solved its space problems by renting the old Grange Hall, which is across the street from the side of the church at 3 Great Pond Road. Members, however, wanted to have everything “under one roof,” Putnam said.

Windover Construction is doing the work. The church has set a deadline of Sept. 5, Putnam said. Asked why North Parish Church has been growing so much, she said, “It has to be about what we are.”

Putnam, an Andover resident who has been a member of North Parish since 1987, described the Unitarian congregation as “diverse and welcoming.” Many of the members, she said, come from different religious backgrounds – or sometimes no religion at all.

She and her husband had not been part of a church for many years, she said, but when their son turned 9, they decided it would be a good idea to find a spiritual home.

“This was a place that worked for us,” she said.

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