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Architecture and Workmanship

Upon entering the 1834 Union Meetinghouse, one experiences the darker tones of the Victorian Age's wood paneling that absorbs the glow cast by the building's eight converted oil lamps which are suspended from the high domed ceiling.

Closer examination of the paneling leaves no doubt why the intricate pattern of concentric squares and rectangles helped qualify this building for inclusion on New Hampshire's List of Historic Places.

One question continues to be pondered, however: Why is the decorative paneling above the pair of windows near the "TOWN HALL" sign vertical in orientation, different from all the others which are horizontal? The artistry of Gust Copp and his coworkers in the 1880s was so far reaching as to be able to use paneling to create the unique trompe l'oeil backdrop for what was then the dais for their Methodist-Episcopal preacher.

The smaller scale used in this area is reflected in the wainscot paneling on the opposite wall where T-AHS has created a Victorian Room theme area. Enlargement of the windows and use of etched and stained glass also date back to the renovations of the 1880s.

We recall that the building was about 50 years old when the paneling was added to prevent crumbling plaster from falling on and distracting the congregation during church services. If you look carefully just above the top, left corner of the "TOWN HALL" sign, you can discover where a small piece of paneling has fallen out. Peeking through is the church's original horse-hair plaster of 1834 vintage, a time when the choir loft, located above the entry doors and edged with a white-washed wooden rail, extended the entire width of the building which had small, plain windows, such as the two that are still in use in the old choir loft.