SHMH Auction Celebrates A Historic Treasure This Weekend

By: William F. Galvin

Topics: Historic preservation

Friends of the South Harwich Meeting House Inc. President Judith Ford takes a breather outside the historic building. WILLIAM F. GALVIN PHOTO

HARWICH — Anyone looking for a wedding venue might want to attend the annual Auction Gala at the South Harwich Meetinghouse. One auction item provides the opportunity to be the first couple to be wed in the newly restored historic former Methodist Church.

There are certainly other reasons to attend the auction. The event, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 28 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., will provide the public with an opportunity to observe the 13-year preservation efforts of the Friends of the South Harwich Meetinghouse, Inc.

The church was constructed in 1836 and is the second oldest Methodist Church on the Cape. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The church was no longer in use and suffering major neglect when the town purchased it in the early 1990s. The church is surrounded by a town-owned cemetery so it made sense for the municipality to purchase it and preserve the historic Greek and Gothic structure.

The Friends group obtained its non-profit status late in 2003 and entered into a licensing agreement with the

town the following year with a comprehensive plan to restore, maintain, preserve and develop programming for cultural arts, education and community enrichment at the meetinghouse.

“This is the final chapter of our restoration and Oct. 28 will be our finishing point for any major and minor work,” Friends president Judith Ford said. “This is the event that marks our finishing the restoration. The interior will be completely done.”

Ford said on Sunday there will be both live and silent auctions with auctioneer John Terrio handling the gavel. There will be appetizers and desserts provided by several caterers. Guests will be able to purchase beer and wine. Tickets for the event are $20 and can be purchased at the door or at

“The funds from the auction all go for the meetinghouse and will be helping us finish all our work so we can move into the future,” Ford said. There will be a silent auction in the reception area downstairs and the major auction items will be auctioned off by Terrio in the sanctuary, said Ford.

The first wedding opportunity will include the wedding in the sanctuary and a reception downstairs, a photography package and music with an organist and a bagpiper. There is also a salon package for the bride and they are working on adding a flower package for the lucky bidder.

If Nantucket is a favorite, last room available at the Jared Coffin House for two nights over the Christmas Stroll weekend, Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, will be up for bid. Maybe you're a fan of Irish music. Ford said you can bid to have Gene and Rose Clancy of the Clancy Tradition and Friends perform at your house party. The five or six member band will come and perform a whole Irish concert, she said.

There is a whole kayak package available. It includes two kayaks, life preservers and paddles, even a waterproof phone cover, Ford said. There is also a half-day boating package provided by Nauset Marine.

Also up for auction is a collection of Joseph C. Lincoln books, including some first editions and signed volumes. One book dates back to 1909, she said. There is one book written by both Joseph and his son, Freeman, signed by both.

There is much more, including gift certificates to restaurants in Harwich, Chatham, Orleans and Dennis.

“We've got some neat stuff and people in the local communities have been highly generous with their donations,” Ford said.

As for the efforts of the Friend's group, Ford said the “meetinghouse is a phenomenal model for how to save a building that is at serious risk.” She said the historic structure will be maintained and available for use by the community. There have been many inquires about planning events at the historic structure, she added, and there are a number of non-profits that want to hold events there. She said the Harwich Garden Club has added the meetinghouse to its Christmas House Tour this year. After the Oct. 28 auction, the facility should be fully available.

“We're excited about it, a lot of people are interested,” Ford said. “It's what we wanted, a building that is active and affordable.” The facility's website is being upgraded to provide better access for booking events. Ford can be reached by email