The church sat empty and exposed to the elements until it reopened in 1790, then limped along for the next several years, partly as a home to Anglican and Episcopal Harvard University students who needed a place to fulfill the school's church attendance requirement.
Christ Church was reinvigorated by strong leadership in the mid-19th century, only to nearly be abandoned again. Around 1850, a group of parishioners pushed to tear down the building and move to a new location, Sullivan said. But another group prevailed after arguing for its preservation, based in part on its rich history, and more history was made there.
During Teddy Roosevelt's years at Harvard in the late 1800s, he was asked not to continue as a Sunday School teacher because he refused to become an Episcopalian. In 1967, the Rev. Martin Luther King was denied access to a Harvard building for a press conference to denounce the Vietnam War, so he held it at Christ Church instead.
The church won't disclose how much the exterior restoration cost, except to say it's six figures and wasn't the largest expense in a $2.5 million capital campaign.
Jonathan Austin, chairman of the church's property committee, said members feel a deep obligation to the generations that preserved the building. The 250th anniversary was an excuse to do as much as they could, as well as they could.
"We just want the building to look as good as it was designed to be," he said.
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