• Historic Time Line
  • Preservation
  • Photos
  • Use & Rules
Meeting House without bell
Meeting House Postcard
  • 1793 Meeting House framed

  • 1796-1815 Baptists/Congregationalists

  • 1819 Minister taxes abolished

  • 1827 Town acquires building

  • 1840 Pulpit & pews removed, slanted flooring & benches on first floor, ceiling planks, removed pew boxes from second floor

  • 1850 Bell installed

  • 1855 West Porch added

  • 1893 Electricity - Dance Hall

  • 1895 Clock installed

  • 1974 The voters of Canaan establish a committee to restore the Meeting House
  • 1975 The exterior restoration work starts

  • 1976 Roof restoration starts

  • 1978 Exterior restoration completed

  • 1980 Plans for interior restoration started

  • 1983 Sill and floor leveling completed

  • 1989 Summer literary readings started

  • 1990 Started Breastworks repair

  • 1993 East Gallery restored

  • 1994 Plans for west porch to rebuild stairs to second floor, install bathroom and kitchen

front entrance of meeting house
restored meeting house pew boxes
colonial style lights at front podium
  • 2005 West Porch started

  • 2006 Septic system installed

  • 2011 Interior complete

  • 2012 Tower restored

  • 2013 Exterior of Meeting House painted & Window Restoration planning started

  • 2014 Relighted

  • 2015 Window restoration starts

  • 2016 Hand Forged Railings with Boot Scrapers installed at the East and South Doors and Handicap ramp installed at the West Door.

  • 2017 Replaced rotted clapboards on tower. Installed fire, motion, and glass breakage alarms.

  • 2018 Installed new benches on the green and repaired older benches. Continued painting.

bench and flowering tree


side entrance of meeting houseOver four decades ago, a small group of neighbors became concerned about the poor condition of the historic Meeting House. A permanent Meeting House Restoration Committee was created and, in 1975, a preliminary plan of action was drafted. Through the years, tens of thousands of dollars have been contributed by charitable foundations, state historic organizations, and gifts from individuals and families like yours.

With the initial restoration done, a new permanent Meeting House Preservation Committee has been formed with the charge of advocacy for the preservation and maintenance of the Meeting House.

Restoration will be an on-going effort. The Meeting House is a priceless old building that will continue to need help above and beyond what the town will be able to provide. It is clear we must establish a long range reserve fund to preserve and protect the Meeting House. As the building ages, we must be prepared to assess and plan for future needs. The recent failing of the tower was a lesson learned.

bell tower roof being lowered by craneWe can't wait for an emergency to hit; we must be proactive. Just as Canaan responded to the needs of the Meeting House over the past thirty seven years, we hope you will respond in kind to the present opportunity for participation in this historic cause. Trish Brown's efforts raised $8,000 for the repair of the tower kick-starting our latest fund raising drive. Contributions over the last few years now total $20,000. Our fund needs to be large enough to weather future storms.

bell tower roof in placeWe are dedicated to preserving the Meeting House so that it will remain a living center of community expression and pride. And we need your help. Please make checks payable to the "Town of Canaan" with "Meeting House" on the memo line, and mail to PO Box 38, Canaan, NH 03741. Your contribution will be dedicated solely to the preservation of the Meeting House.

The Meeting House Preservation Committee

completed and restored bell tower
Click here. to view the video provided by Carol Bergeron of the tower being lifted off by a crane.

diagram of clock repairs

diagram of bell tower repairs

damage on bell tower structures painting the bell tower from a lift interior damage to bell tower

More Images of Needed Repairs

Diagram of Needed Repairs

Special Find!

A set of historic theatre "curtains" (a grand drape and three backdrops) were found in the attic of the Meetinghouse. The curtains had water damage and had been cut from their top boards and off the old wooden rollers.

They were examined by Christine Hadsel and M. J. Davis of Curtains Without Borders, Inc., a VT-based nonprofit that surveys for and conserves historic painted theatre curtains. Afterward, they were rolled back onto the wooden rollers, wrapped for protection and stored at Canaan's Historical Museum.

The grand drape (this curtain would have hung just inside the proscenium arch) is signed on the front: L. J. Couch & Co., So. Boston, Mass. The back of the this curtain is marked "Canaan, NH" which indicates that the set was purchased for use here in Canaan, and most likely on the Lyceum Hall Association stage on the second floor of the Meetinghouse (beginning in about 1884).

Canaan's grand drape is a scene of Chateau Chillon, a romantic image that was popular because of Lord Byron's poem, "The Prisoner of Chillon." The backdrops include a country scene, a street scene and a fancy interior. Levi J. Couch hired skilled artists and these are beautifully painted using water-based pigments on muslin.

Canaan, like most of the towns in New England, had an active interest in theatre from the 1880s through to about 1940. Local productions, musical evenings, traveling shows, and graduation ceremonies were just some of the events that would have taken place on stage either at Lyceum Hall or at the halls in the village. Other than a later curtain that hangs hidden on the back wall of the Senior Center's second-floor stage, the set found at the Meetinghouse is Canaan's only remaining piece of historic stage equipment.

It's hard for us to imagine, now, the impact that such large paintings had on an audience when the curtains were new. They were admired then and today they are a link to Canaan's cultural history.

For more information about historic stage curtains, how they were made and the artists who painted them in New England (and beyond) and about the conservation work of Curtains Without Borders, Inc., see www.curtainswithoutborders.org. For details about this set of theatre curtains, contact Judith Kushner, 523-4337.

painted backdrop of trees and river

The Grand Drape: Tourists at Chateau Chillon. Of the 4 curtains, this one is in the best condition.

close up of people in boat

Detail from the Grand Drape.

painted backdrop of trees and river

Country backdrop, viewed at the Meetinghouse in 2008..

close up of trees and river backdrop

Country scene.

Parlor or fancy interior, badly damaged by water stains.

painted backdrip of city street

Street scene. In order to fill the wide stage, an addition was made to the large building and long wall on the right.


In 2017 preparation was being made to paint the Meeting House Exterior when rotted clapboards were found on the tower. Repairs were made, primer applied, and the painted rescheduled. In addition the building was made more secure by installation of fire, motion, and glass breakage alarms.

rotted clapboards
Clapboards Before Repair.
repaired clapboards
Repaired Clapboards


railings and steps at south door

railing detail boot scraper detail
Railing Details

In 2016 several improvements were made at the Meeting House to improve accessibility. Dimitri Gerakaris created handrails for the East and South Meeting House Doors. Gerakaris forged the railings consistent with the design and technical methods of the time period in which the meeting house was built, including forged mortise and tenon joints plus hand riveted boot scrapers and hand-forged hand rail stock.

At the rear door, a handicap ramp was installed. The labor was donated by Chris Keyser.

rear entrance ramp


In 2015 the Meeting House Preservation Committee is raising money to restore windows in the Meeting House. Many of the windows have broken glass, poor caulking and need paint. Each sash is being pulled, photographed and sent for repairs. Al Posnanski, Joe Frazier and Dave's Glass are undertaking this work.

cracked window loose window window sash in need of repair

windows boarded against the weather broken window

The Preservation Committee is also planning on building a new handicapped ramp at the rear of the building.

dimensional sketch of planned ramp

Lighting Improvements & Beginning of Window Restoration

lights upstairs and down
lights at the front
boarded window outside boarded window inside

2013 Canaan Lake Association Annual Community Barbeque

line waiting for burgers and dogs
picnicers on the lawn
women playing bean bag toss

2013 Meeting House Readings

Program of Authors

people listening to a meeting house readings author
meeting house readings emcee author meeting with audience member
meeting house reading authors meeting house reading audience
meeting house reading view from the balcony

2013 Annual Rug Hook-In

balcony view of a rug hook-in

student displaying art
Mascoma Valley Regional High School Artist Portfolio Show 2012
Students in Portfolio Art work all year to create "a cohesive body of work." They must mount a show and write an artist's statement as their final culmination of their year. Their work is shown in conjunction with the Indian River Middle School Art Show.
student art display
student art display

Meeting House Readings Welcome
Meeting House Readings 2011
Bill Craig opening the 22nd Annual Meeting House Readings on July 7, 2011.

Meeting House Annual Hook-Ins
rug hookers looking at work in progress

rug hooking in progress rug hooking demonstration  rug hooking gathering

New Hampshire History Days 2011
4th grade students dressed for history day
students learning about animals in colonial times
Each year, students at the Canaan Elementary School study colonial history and artifacts from earlier eras in the classroom. students learning colonial gamesThey then re-enact colonial activities, including games and crafts such as quilting and candle making, on the Meeting House Green.

Calendar for Meeting House & Meeting House Common

Canaan Street, Canaan NH

Rules & Application for Use of Meeting House

To request meeting space in this building, please contact the Town Administrator at townadmin@canaannh.org or 523-4501x5