By Dave Warner

Barbara Campbell has a reputation for buying houses, fixing them up, and then selling them. But buying a church was a whole other adventure, one that has turned out well for her.

The State Review Board of the New York State Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation met in June of this year and selected Barbara’s Dolgeville Universalist Church as one of their winners.

Campbell said that the land was purchased from the Favels and that it was built in 1895.  “They built the church and it was in use as a Universalist Church until 1985 when they sold it to the Bible Believers Group.”

“It seemed to deteriorate from that point forward, and then they ended up deserting it and leaving it empty for a number of years. That’s when I fell in love with it.”

She said she would drive by every day on her way to work and think, “I need to get in there and see this place. I’m just loving the outside.”

The inside is very unusual, with some incredible woodwork in place. “Evidently, a woman had brought the plans back from England for a church that she’d seen like this,” Campbell stated.

One of the things she’s had to do when restoring the building is to have the main stained glass window repaired. “Adirondack Stained Glass Works in Gloversville removed the window and had it for a couple of months to do the repairs. It was about $10,000 to fix it, but it’s been a labor of love.”

Campbell also said that replacing the slate roof had been a big thing for her. “Last year, that was a huge expense.”

She has also installed a new heating system and plumbing. “All the pipes had burst, and it was in very bad shape.”

Campbell said that the current placement on the State Register should allow it to be placed on the National Register as well.

The Herkimer County Historical Society was instrumental in some of the research required to make the application. “They were very helpful. I’d get a question from the State about when there were so many Unitarians in the area and come to find out, there was a whole big article that sat in the information rack right in front of the museum.”

When asked why she took the step to get the building listed, she replied, “I guess I’m crazy. It was kind of a hobby. I’ve fixed up a few old houses, and my kids say it’s a passion I have.”

“I’ve told them – no more houses – because they keep pointing ones out to me. ‘Mom, you should buy this place and fix it up.’ ”

She finished, “It’s been a labor of love and a lot of money.”

Creative Designs by Tiffany rents the space now, and besides flowers, the building is available for events. “What a joy she’s been. She cares for it and cleans it all the time. I told my kids that if that sells, I want you to sell it to somebody who will love it as much as I do.”