WESTFIELD, NJ - First Congregational Church of Westfield is celebrating a gift of its own this Christmas: A newly restored parish house. Hidden from view for more than 40 years, the hall’s window wall and skylight are once again exposed, filling the room with natural light on three sides and from above. The soaring space, warmed by dark wood trim, forms the heart of the church’s social events.
Built in 1912 and named for an early minister, Patton Hall was modified over the years to accommodate the needs of a growing congregation. A portion was walled off to create an infant nursery and a drop ceiling was added during the 1970s energy crisis, sealing off the balcony and skylight above.
With the completion of the restoration, the most dramatic architectural elements are once again visible, namely the exposed rafters, arched windows and wood trimmed skylight in the early 20th Century Craftsman style. The original Gothic-style chandeliers were refurbished and fitted with Edison-era bulbs. Doors and woodwork were salvaged and reused and the light-blue nursery trim was stripped and returned to its original chestnut finish.
At the center of the room, an arched alcove with plaster detailing is lighted from above with leaded glass. It can be fitted with a portable stage for events like the popular “October Surprise” cabaret. In a nod to the 21st Century, the alcove is installed with a 75 inch “smart” TV for meetings or movie nights. The hall is fully handicapped-accessible and includes a new bathroom and service kitchen. It can seat 120 people and is available for rental for meetings and celebrations.
The restoration was a labor of love for church member Keith Westerhold, who oversaw every detail with A. Paul Contracting of Hillside and architect Robert Algarin. He credits them with sharing his dedication to making the space look as close to the original as possible. Funds for the project, which included central air conditioning and a new nursery, were raised through the church’s Heritage Fund and a special churchwide appeal.
“Among the many blessings of a thriving congregation are members who are willing to contribute so generously to complete a project like this for future generations,” said Rev. Dr. Mark Boyea, FCC Senior Minister. “We welcome the community to experience both the room and the generosity of spirit that restored it over coffee following our weekly worship celebrations.”
First Congregational Church is located at 125 Elmer Street in historic downtown Westfield. For more information on rentals or church programs, please visit fccofwestfield.org or call 908-233-2494.