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Historical society plans legal move to gain ownership of church

By Daniel Dunkle | Feb 24, 2021
Source: File photo

Appleton — In the February newsletter of the Appleton Historical Society, President Fred Bucklin said the society plans legal action to take ownership of the former Union Church.

"We have, the Town of Appleton never actually had title to the Meeting House and they did not convey it to us in 1971," he wrote.

In 1971, residents voted at town meeting to turn the church over to the society, expecting that the town was going to seize the property for unpaid taxes, according to a Camden Herald article from March 1971. However, there are no records available of the town or the society ever owning the building.

"Since 1971 we have been the stewards of the property with our labor and money," Bucklin said. "We have conducted the title search to see if there is any other rightful owner(s) and cannot find anybody. Now we are exercising our right to own the property by adverse possession. Since the pandemic we have collected no dues nor been able to raise any monies through fund raisers to meet our annual budget of $2,500. Fortunately, since July 1, 2020, the New Testament Church has rented the building for their weekly services; to date they have paid $3,600 in rent. Instead of losing money, we made money during the pandemic. Acquiring title to the Meeting House is our first goal. When that is done, we will get back on course and raise the money to replace the steeple."

Currently, the church steeple has been removed and is on the lawn next to it awaiting completion of repairs and restoration.

One of the questions that has been raised is how the town could have expected to take possession of the church for unpaid taxes when churches are exempt.




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