, Salem, MA

Local News

April 29, 2014

Heard Around Town: Back in the saddle again

Approving three members of the Disability Commission, Marblehead selectmen came on a familiar face: Ron Grenier, formerly of the School Committee, famous in the 1990s for, among other things, his debates with then-superintendent Phil Deveau.

“You have a record of town service,” noted Selectman Jackie Belf-Becker.

It was the opportunity to serve on “this particular” commission that “moved me,” Grenier replied. He praised the board for elevating disabilities from a committee to a commission. And he explained that he’d been gone from Marblehead for a period of time, but has now returned and remains eager to contribute.

Three people applied for posts, including Caroline Curtis and Ed Lang, who previously worked on the Disabilities Committee. “I’m very sensitive to the issues of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act),” said Lang.

This wasn’t a hard choice. “We have three vacancies and three candidates,” noted Belf-Becker.

Everyone was approved.

How old are you now?

Pretty old.

When it was built 300 years ago, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church was a simple structure. That may have reflected the bare style of the Puritans who surrounded Marblehead. But over the decades, explains architect and congregant Edward Nilsson, came changes — new style pews, new windows, new walls and, in 1888, even stained glass.

“It was a higher decorative style,” he says. And yet, the basic structure, built with sweat and bare hands 300 years ago, is still there beneath the changes.

Nilsson will speak tomorrow, Wednesday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m. about the evolving architecture of the church. His free presentation is part of a series of events celebrating the church’s 300th birthday. Earlier, author Bob Booth gave a lecture.

Nilsson will explain the whys and hows of the church’s evolving architectural look. The original building was merely post and beam, he explains, but meant to recall the forms of traditional English churches. Unlike the Puritans, who saw themselves escaping the reach of the English religious establishment, the Episcopalians “wanted something to remind them of home. They were in a bit of a hostile environment.”

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