ROCKPORT — The 170-year-old Rockville Community Chapel is undergoing a major restoration through the fundraising effort of its supporters.

The work includes straightening and strengthening the granite foundation, replacing rotted boards and removing the wooden siding and replacing it with vinyl siding that has a 50-year warranty. New doors and trim are also being installed.

An access hole is being created inside the chapel to allow easier access to underneath the structure.

The major exterior work follows significant interior work done in 2017. The work was done in time for the association to hold a Christmas celebration there for the first time in nearly 50 years.

The Rockville Community Chapel Association has been working since 2010 to preserve the chapel. One of the lead organizers is Roy Bennett. The work has been paid for through fundraisers and anonymous donations.

While Bennett did not live in Rockville, his great-grandparents Winnie and Alice Robbins were big supporters of the chapel, when it was a church, back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. His mother was born in Rockville.

The association worked since 2010 to preserve the chapel, which is the last standing public building in Rockville. Annual Christmas celebrations were held at the church, in which the villagers would gather and have readings by children and a visit from Santa Claus.

Rockville, located off Route 17 within the town of Rockport, had a town hall, school, post office and stores, such as a butcher shop. As late as the 1950s, Rockville was a vibrant community with its own Fourth of July parades.

As public buildings closed, the number of congregation members dwindled and the church fell into disrepair.

The chapel was built in 1851 as a church. At its peak following the U.S. Civil War, membership reached 200. The church had a large congregation because parishioners also came from Rockland. The church was affiliated with Baptist churches until the 1970s, when it was decommissioned and renamed the Rockville Community Chapel.

By the 21st century, the chapel was in such disrepair that the fate of the building was in doubt.

Then, people who lived in the village and attended the church as youngsters organized to save the chapel. The restoration began in 2010 through donations from those current and former village residents as well as fundraisers.

A 19-foot fiberglass steeple was erected nearly a decade ago. The roof was re-shingled and the belfry was rebuilt. The exterior of the chapel was painted. The old opaque windows that were nearly impossible to open were replaced with energy-efficient ones.

The tin ceiling rusted from leaks in the roof. The 2-by-2-foot tiles were replaced. Cracks and holes in the drywall were fixed and the interior was painted. The pews were all taken up so that the carpet that had been installed during a major renovation in 1913 could be replaced.

A bathroom was installed.

Some of the original furnishings of the church remain, including the cast-iron bell purchased in 1851.

The chapel is at 87 Old Rockland Road, which runs parallel to Route 17.

Fundraisers are scheduled in the fall — one Sept. 25 is a baked bean supper at the Rockport Masonic Hall from 5 to 6:30 p.m.; and a craft fair at the Masonic Hall Nov. 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Roy Bennett stands at the entrance to the Rockville Community Chapel.