Shirley Meeting House
The Shirley Meeting House is a classic white clapboard New England meeting house on Shirley Common, the center of the Shirley Historic District, surrounded by houses of the period and the old Town Hall. Its initial construction was completed in 1773, and later alterations in 1804 and 1839 brought the building to its present form. It has been at the center of town life for 246 years, and it is used today for community events, weddings, memorials and other public events. The First Parish Meeting House Preservation Society of Shirley maintains the building.
The present project sought to provide accessibility to the Meeting House without compromising the historic character of the Meeting House and Shirley Common. Working closely with Robert Adam, the vice president of the Preservation Society and a master preservation carpenter, Richard Smith developed a design to create an accessible path into the building and an accessible toilet. The design reshaped the grades on the Common and installed an accessible path on grass reinforced with a buried mesh fabric, bringing users to a porch raised to the level of the narthex floor. The double entrance doors were replaced with a wide leaf and a smaller inactive leaf to create a larger opening, and a power operator was added. The sanctuary was two steps up from the narthex. To create the accessible path, the south aisle was gently sloped, and a door was rehung to allow the slope to come to the door. An alcove in the narthex was turned into an accessible toilet and pantry. As constructed by Robert Adam, the renovations discreetly provide access with minimal impact on the historic character of the site and building.