Community arts and events space prepares for preliminary opening in May

Leaders of the community arts and music venue to be housed in the historic Granite Church at 5 North Main Street in Georgetown continue to fundraise for the renovations to the building ahead of the opening the spring. The venue, which has plans to also house a cafe and offer visual arts and theater, will be re-named The Granite.

Read more in the Redding Sentinel
Article By Donna Christopher

The Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill

The Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill is located in historic Georgetown, Connecticut. The Wire Mill and the adjacent Granite Church are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as contributing buildings to the Georgetown Historic District. The Town of Redding took ownership of the 44-acre Wire Field property in 2020.

Weaving Building

Did you know that the Gilbert & Bennett manufacturing plant began as a cottage industry, weaving animal hair from cows and horses? This is the Weaving Building, built in 1919. What do you think it could be used for next? There are so many possibilities, but we first need to make sure we save it and the other historic buildings before they fall down!

Check out the Wire Mill Committee’s recommendations for a five-year plan here.

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1914 and 1919 Buildings

The 1914 and 1919 Buildings are a part of the historic Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill. Both have their construction year in brick on the façade, but they’re falling into disrepair. We would love to see the recommended repairs happen so the whole town can enjoy this historic site once more. Couldn’t you just picture looking out 1914’s stunning round window?

1914 and 1919 building

Blue Building

This is the Blue Building (AKA the Machine Shop), a historic structure in the Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill. It is currently being rented out to the National Park Service as a machine shop that supports Weir Farm National Historical Park in Ridgefield. How can we keep the history of the wire mill as a “maker space” alive?

blue building public access

Sawtooth Building

This is the Sawtooth Building, an iconic part of the legendary Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill. It’s right next to the river, which has the potential to become a beautiful outdoor community space! It’s worth investing in saving the wire mill’s structures to ensure a beautiful future for Georgetown.

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Post Office

This is the old post office, part of the historic Gilbert & Bennett Wire Mill. Here it is featured in the Saturday Evening Post in 1947 and beneath it, a photo of the building today. In a town so rich with history, we owe it to ourselves to invest in restoring this and the other wire mill buildings to support a vibrant Georgetown.

post office post office on post cover

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about our town’s historic site and that you have a chance to look at the Wire Mill Committee’s recommendations.

Check out the Wire Mill Committee’s recommendations for a five-year plan here.

What’s Happening at The Granite, December 2023

Thanks to your ideas and support, the Granite Church is on its way to becoming a vital community gathering space for artistic expression and the exchange of ideas.

We’ve made a lot of progress in readying the building this year. We regraded the property, patched the roof, and remediated the water damage. We are enormously grateful for the amazing volunteers who support our Creative Advisory Committee and for the many people who have attended our open houses and events. But much work remains.

Annual Appeal

As this year closes and we turn to funding a new heating system, we need your help bringing our vision to reality. We plan to open as a nonprofit community arts space in the spring of 2024!

You can make a difference by including the Granite Church in your end-of-year giving. Please consider donating today!

Conditions Assessment Report Finalized

Front doors at the Granite ChurchOur architectural team, Carl Rothbart & Rose Long at Architectural Preservation Studio, recently completed a conditions assessment, and the good news is that the building is in better shape than originally thought! While this is exciting, the building still needs about $3 million in historic rehabilitation and building infrastructure.

Updates are required for the building to be open to public events with a larger capacity. We’ll need new entrances and restrooms to ensure the building is accessible to everyone and we need to improve the roof and exterior to keep the water out for good.

Read the full report here.

The Conditions Assessment was funded by the State of Connecticut through the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

National Register Plaque

The William G. Pomeroy Foundation awarded us a grant of $1,550 for a National Register plaque! This new historical marker will honor the legacy of the Granite Church and help inform the public about its history.

Creative Conversations

Coffee and Conversation group meeting at the churchWe’ve hosted a series of Creative Conversation gatherings, which have evolved into our Creative Advisory Committee! These meetings have been popular with local creatives looking to strengthen the arts community and shape programming at the Granite. We now have artist advisors for music, visual arts, theater, and dance and are grateful to members of the community for showing such strong interest. If you would like to participate, please reach out.

Lend your ideas about the programming you would like to see and how you think the building should be used. We are super excited about finding artistic and civic leaders who want to use the Granite. We hope to have the venue ready as a private event space in May 2024 but there will be another year or more of work depending on funding to ready the space for public events.

Our next meeting will be held on Saturday, December 30th at 10 am at the Granite. Learn more here.

Management by SpreadMusicNow

SpreadMusicNow logoSpreadMusicNow, Inc. is a volunteer-led 501(c)(3) public charity that supports music education, creative youth development, and artistic expression. In 2023, SpreadMusicNow began managing the Granite Church and is responsible for handling all donations. 100% of your donation goes to the Granite Church. All donations are tax-deductible. EIN: 83-0713289.

To make this a community-driven venue ready for artistic performance we need everyone’s help. Consider becoming an individual or corporate donor. Give Now

SpreadMusicNow is Moving In!

From SpreadMusicNow:

SpreadMusicNow’s new home is at the Granite Church at 5 N Main Street in Redding, Connecticut. The town of Redding is where we were founded, and where we’ve had the opportunity to grow and thrive as an organization, and now we’re honored to join the burgeoning Georgetown neighborhood.

Being part of this unique space that will benefit the community is a gift that we will not take for granted.

The Granite Church will be a vibrant community resource available for many public and private events, including concerts, dances, speakers, plays, art exhibits; yoga and art classes; weddings, dinners, corporate events; and office rental or use of the lower level with community room.

The historic rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the Church is currently underway! Once renovations are completed, SpreadMusicNow will be able to host events. Learn more about the Granite Church project here.

SpreadMusicNow logoSpreadMusicNow at the Granite Church will focus its efforts on expanding our mission to support music education and creative youth development that promotes educational, career, and life success through music and arts programming.

Our mailing address remains unchanged. Please feel free to contact us at P.O. Box 1330 Redding, CT 06875.

Learn more about SpreadMusicNow here.

BeFoundation to Host Community Open House

Redding-based charity BeFoundation has purchased the former Georgetown Bible Church and has plans to convert the building into a community gathering and performing arts
space.

Read more in the Redding Sentinel

Community Shares Ideas at Granite Church Open House

BeFoundation held an open house for the community at the former Georgetown Bible Church (also known as the “Granite Church”) in Georgetown on Sunday, November 20. Over 200 people attended throughout the day and enjoyed live music, food, and kids’ activities while also giving feedback on how the building should be used in the future as an arts and cultural center.

Read more in the Redding Sentinel

BeFoundation Looks to Secure Public-Private Funding

Following its purchase of the historic “Granite Church” at 5 North Main Street in Georgetown, the Redding-based Be Foundation is now pursuing multiple sources of both public and private funding to renovate the building to create an arts and cultural center for the community.

Read more in the Redding Sentinel

BeFoundation Purchases Historic Church in Redding, CT

Redding, CT-based BeFoundation announced its purchase of the historic Georgetown Bible Church at 5 N Main Street in Redding, CT. Originally known as the Gilbert Memorial Church, it was completed in 1902. The granite for the beautiful Church was quarried next door in Branchville under the direction of geologists from Yale University.

Built in the Gothic Revival Style, the magnificent structure with its stained glass, tower and bell, has stood the test of time and will continue to do so following needed renovations. The Church has many features found in larger churches built in this style at that time, including buttresses and pointed arch windows, a square main tower, and a round turret with a conical roof. To the rear of the church is a small cemetery containing the graves of Edwin and Elizabeth Gilbert.

Read more in the Redding Sentinel

December 2022: What’s New at the Granite Church in Georgetown?

From financial plans to community engagement, we’re thrilled about the progress being made to bring the Granite Church to life and to fulfill its promise as an art and cultural gathering space for our community. We’re busy on many fronts and are excited to share an update as we close out 2022.

Public-Private Partnership Proposed

In November, BeFoundation submitted a proposal for a partnership with the Town of Redding to redevelop the Granite Church. The proposal includes a draft five-year financial plan spanning the construction phase to operations phase. You can review the full proposal and financial plan here. You are invited to send your ideas or feedback about the financial plan and how the Granite Church should be used as a community gathering place and performing arts center to granitechurch@befoundation.org.

Building Restoration Progress

Restoring a historic building takes time and special consideration. Recently, we stabilized the roof for the winter and we are working actively to select our architectural and construction partners, who will help us bring our vision for the Granite Church to life while maintaining the building’s historic integrity. We are also researching the use of state historic restoration funds to see if that is the best way to help fund some of the restoration work we have planned.

Making Room for Art, Music and Dancing

Since we will need flexible seating to accommodate potentially two stages, one on each end of the space, and room for a possible dance floor, the existing pews will need to be removed and rehomed. Instead, we will be looking at seating that can be folded, stacked, and stored. This will provide more room for dancing and increased seating and standing capacity for events. If you have interest in the pews or ideas for their disposition, please contact granitechurch@befoundation.org.

November Open House a Success

We were happy to see so many long-time Georgetown residents at our open house on November 20. We received many excellent ideas for uses of the Church — from art circles and holiday concerts to speaker series and ballroom dancing. We look forward to bringing these ideas to life in partnership with the community.

Special thanks to the Georgetown Village Restoration for arranging local vendors and kids’ activities like cookie decorating and touch-a-fire-truck. It was a great day to share the Granite Church and great music with the community.

Temporary Performance Art Installation: Wall of Sound x2

SpreadMusicNow partner, Anthony Coscia, has built a half-scale replica of the Grateful Dead’s Wall of Sound. (And it sounds amazing!) Also on display is the quarter-scale replica used for the “Zappa Meets the Dead” show.

Coscia’s passion project, “Le Petit Mur De Son,” is dedicated to rebuilding the Grateful Dead’s legendary Wall of Sound from 1974. Each in this series of Walls will be increasing in size until the full-scale wall is completed. The goal at completion is to make the Wall available to venues and musicians so that music fans can experience The Wall of Sound as they would have nearly 50 years ago. For more information go to https://www.spreadmusicnow.org/anthony-coscia.

The Granite Church
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