Updated: Oct 12
Fluvanna's Historic Meeting House Gets a New Roof Following Successful Community-wide Campaign
Less than one year after the start of a community-wide campaign, the Fluvanna Community Historical Society (FCHS) raised all the funds needed to replace the roof on Fluvanna's historic Meeting House. On September 21, 2022, roofers started replacing the shingles on the Meeting House roof, but the work to save this historic building started months beforehand. Weathering numerous challenges, people across Chautauqua County and beyond joined together to lift up the building at the heart of our community. This achievement marks just the latest chapter in the long history of the Meeting House as a gathering space for all people.
The roof's replacement also marks the beginning of a new era. FCHS members, residents and friends of Fluvanna, throughout the country, have a vision to both preserve this historic Meeting House and transform the building, the adjacent cemetery and park into a new center for the entire community. To learn more about Fluvanna's historic Meeting House, the roof replacement project, view a timelapse video of the work completed, the vision for this community center and how you can volunteer to help, scroll below.
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Fluvanna's Historic Meeting House
Fluvanna's Meeting House has served as the community's gathering space ever since the first settlers built their homes on Chautauqua Lake in the early 1810s. Originally built as a roughhewn log cabin, the Meeting House functioned as the community's school, church, library and town hall. The cemetery, horse sheds and community park grew-up around the building serving as an outdoor gathering space. Most recently, and for 30 years, the building served as the community's Youth Center, attracting large groups of elementary, middle and High School students from throughout Chautauqua County and beyond.
As the community grew and changed, so did the Meeting House - inside and out. Through all of these changes three things remained the same: the Meeting House has served as a symbol for the community, a landmark and a place for people to gather together.
FCHS came into existence to preserve Fluvanna's historic Meeting House and, in so doing, connect people with our past, with one another and with a brighter future.
This initiative came at a time of challenging and significant changes for both the Meeting House and the community overall. Across the region, communities experienced a continued decline in residents, a stagnant economy, the opioid epidemic, an aging population, the negative effects of social media, civil discord and social isolation. These challenges made the Meeting House restoration all the more necessary as a place of community pride, identity and sharing. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, changed these circumstances and the task before us from difficult to simply daunting.
To make matters worse, in the midst of this crisis, the Meeting House roof began leaking and needed urgent repairs at a time of historically high prices. The cost for asphalt shingles steadily rose and the price for plywood skyrocketed upwards of 252%. FCHS received quotes of $50,000+ to replace the Meeting House roof with virtually no funds at hand to cover the cost.
Community Joins Together
Unable to use the building, meet in person or raise funds using traditional methods, circumstances required adaptation. Once again, the community rose to the occasion.
In June 2021, FCHS launched the "Raise the Roof" fundraising campaign. Members and volunteers of the Historical Society reached out to family, friends and their neighbors requesting assistance. Shawn Putt, the president of Advanced Roofing Inc. (located only one mile from the Meeting House), offered to make all necessary repairs to stop any on-going leaks. Mr. Putt also promised to make a significant donation if contracted to replace the Meeting House roof. Likewise, Joe Mistretta, from B&L Wholesale Supply (also within Fluvanna and a mile east of the Meeting House) provided valuable technical assistance and measurements for FCHS. The company also offered to discount certain items to defray some of the overall costs.
Meanwhile, FCHS obtained a grant from Microsoft Philanthropies, enabling members to meet and collaborate online. This assistance launched FCHS into the modern era resulting in the creation of Fluvanna's first "virtual meeting house." Not to be outdone, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and other philanthropic organizations in the area provided FCHS with financial assistance and guidance.
Furthermore, FCHS conducted over 12 different events as an outreach to the community to raise awareness of the history and need to save Fluvanna's historic Meeting House. These series of events started with the re-creation of the oldest known photograph of Fluvanna and included horse-drawn sleigh rides, doughnut fundraisers, candy sales, charity drives with other nonprofits throughout WNY and online and in-person historical talks.
The hard work paid off. In all, FCHS reached hundreds of people who contributed to the roof replacement project. Many of these supporters never attended FCHS sponsored events before. By July 2022, only one year after launching the "Raise the Roof" campaign, FCHS raised all of the funds needed to replace the Meeting House roof.
On September 21, 2022, Advanced Roofing Inc. began replacing the roof on Fluvanna Historic Meeting House. B&L Wholesale Supply provided the materials. In less than two weeks, the roofers finished the entire project except the steeple.
Standing at approximately 54 feet and 2 inches, and especially steep starting at the base of the spire, standard roofing equipment could not reach the top of the steeple to replace the shingles. The roofers rented a lift to reach the top of the steeple, but the equipment could not adequately reach this part of the roof. In the end, Advanced Roofing Inc. rented a specially designed lift from Erie to replace the shingles on the spire.
Thanks to the love and determination of the community, and so many dedicated volunteers, the roof on Fluvanna's historic Meeting House was fully replaced on November 4, 2022!!!
What's Next: Our Vision
The completion of the roof replacement project marks just the beginning of a new chapter for this historic property. FCHS and an enthusiastic group of volunteers are actively developing plans to restore Fluvanna’s Meeting House, cemetery and community park (all part of the adjacent grounds) as the center for our community. They hope this place will serve as a meaningful space (unique to our history) where the people of our community will learn to reconnect with each other by reconnecting with our past.
In the coming months, FCHS will host a series of town hall events to share with everyone their vision. This includes hearing what features and functions people would like to see incorporated into the larger vision as we work together to build a more connected and beautiful community. Meetings will be held in-person and online to reach as many people and supporters as possible.
Restoring the Fluvanna's historic Meeting House will help revive our sense of identity, build our community’s pride and serve as the place where young people, families and senior citizens alike meet and learn from one another.
How You Can Help
In order to accomplish this larger vision, we need your help.
Anyone interested in volunteering to bring this vision to life may join one of two teams (or both!): the Meeting House Restoration Team and the Park Restoration Team. Just contact us and one of our team members will call, email or text you to welcome you to the team. Volunteers may email, call or send FCHS a message at our Virtual Meeting house, by clicking here and choosing 'Contact Us' in the menu options at the top.
FCHS also welcomes new members to join the Society by simply clicking here to complete the online membership application. Each membership type (including individual, student, senior citizen, sustaining and family) includes an easy checkbox option if you are interested in volunteering.
Your determination and love for our community makes all the difference. Together we can build a brighter future!
The Fluvanna Community Historical Society is a registered 501(c)(3) organization, provisionally chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York, and dedicated to connecting our community with our past, with each other and with a brighter future.