First Church of Christ, Pittsfield (1853)

First Church, Pittsfield

When Pittsfield was established in 1761 the community’s first meetinghouse was also erected (the church was organized in 1764). Intended as a temporary structure, it was eventually replaced in 1793 by a new and architecturally significant church building designed by Charles Bulfinch. After that church suffered damage in an 1851 fire it was removed to the Maplewood Young Ladies Institute, where it later served as a gymnasium (it was torn down in 1939). A new First Congregational Church, the third on the site at 27 East Street, was built in 1853. The new church was designed by Leopold Eidlitz and has an 1870 chapel designed by local architect Charles Rathbun and an 1882 Tiffany stained glass memorial window. Today the church is known as First Church on Park Square.

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Florence Congregational Church (1861)

Florence Congregational Church

The Florence Congregational Church, at 130 Pine Street in Northampton, was constructed starting in 1861. The village of Florence was developing as an industrial area at the time. Before the church was built, residents had to make the Sunday trip to Northampton to attend church services. The Florence Church had its beginnings in 1857 as a fair weather outdoor Sunday school for the First Church of Northampton. The church has a Stick style Parish House designed by William Fenno Pratt.

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First Congregational Church of Stockbridge (1824)

First Congregational Church of Stockbridge

At 4 Main Street in Stockbridge is the the First Congregational Church, built in 1824. The church began in 1734 with John Sergeant‘s mission to the Mahican people of the Berkshire Hills. The first church building, erected in 1739, stood where the Chime Tower is today. The second church building, built in 1785, stood at the foot of Old Meeting House Road. The current brick church was restructured in 1865 to accommodate a Johnson Organ.

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Former First Church/Daniel Low Building (1826)

Former Church, Salem

The fourth meetinghouse of Salem’s First Church was built in 1826 on the same site as its three predecessors (now 121 Washington Street at Essex Street). Originally designed by Solomon Willard and Peter Banner of Boston, retail stores were on the ground floor with the church using the spaces above. The building was significantly altered in the Victorian Gothic style and much enlarged around 1874. When First Church merged with North Church in 1923, the former church was acquired by Daniel Low & Company, a company that sold fine gifts and jewelry. The store was in business from 1874 to 1995.

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Harvard Evangelical Congregational Church (1821)

Harvard Evangelical Congregational Church

In 1821, part of the membership of Harvard’s First Church who objected to the town’s granting use of the meeting house to the Unitarian Society split off to form their own separate congregation, the Calvinistic Congregational Society. As related in History of the Town of Harvard, Massachusetts, 1732-1893 (1894) by Henry S. Nourse:

This formal withdrawal left the meeting-house and church furniture in legal possession of those refusing Calvinistic doctrines, and the records, though detained for a time by the clerk, Reuben Whitcomb, a leader in the new society, were soon surrendered to them. April 16, 1821, it was voted to apply to the town tor a piece of the common whereupon to build a meeting-house, and a committee was instructed to present a plan.

April 29 the town gave the ground now in possession of the society, agreeing to remove the pound and hearse-house, then standing upon it. A building forty-four feet by fifty was agreed upon, its cost being divided into one hundred shares of twenty-five dollars each.

Nourse describes later additions to the church:

In August, 1827, a subscription, headed by Seth Nason with a gift of one hundred dollars, was raised to add a cupola to the front of the meeting-house and provide a bell. The sum of $903.50 was obtained, and the addition was made, including an increase in the number of pews. In 1836 a new pulpit was built by a few individuals of the society.

[. . .] March 12, 1855, the society changed its name to “The Evangelical Congregational Society.” In 1858 the gallery pews in the meeting-house were fitted for more convenient use, and two years later the building of a “piazza” brought the church into temporary debt.

The building, at 5 Still River Road, continues to be the home of the Congregational Church of Harvard.

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Congregational Church of Interlaken (1827)

Congregational Church of Interlaken

In 1824 plans were made to build a new meeting house by the Stockbridge Congregational Church. The location of the building was a point of contention between members of the congregation. Although it was eventually built near the site of the community’s first meeting house, church members living in the north section of town, known as Curtisville (named for the mill complex erected by Stephen Curtis), felt that the distance was too far to travel. In 1825, after much debate, it was decided to let a new Congregational Society be formed in Curtisville. The North Congregational Society met in the Red School House on Larrywaug Crossroads until its own church, also on Larrywaug Crossroad, was dedicated on January 10, 1827. The building was used until 1834 when it was taken down and and rebuilt at its present site at 6 Willard Hill Road. Curtisville later became known as Interlaken and the church as the Congregational Church of Interlaken A brick edifice, it was in use as a church until 2002, when declining membership led to the congregation’s sale of the building. It was converted into the second home of a New York architect.

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First Congregational Church of Boylston (1927)

First Congregational Church of Boylston

The origins of the First Congregational Church of Boylston go back to 1742, when the North Precinct in Shrewsbury (now Boylston) was incorporated. The congregation’s first meeting house was built near the site of the present Old Cemetery. When the time came to build a new meeting house (constructed in 1793), there was a protracted controversy over where in town it should be located. After the decision was finally made to build the Church on the site of the present Sawyer Memorial Library, residents in the western side of town, who had wanted the church built closer to their homes, began the process which eventually led to the incorporation of West Boylston as a separate town. The third meeting house was built in the Greek Revival style in 1835. After it burned in 1924 it was replaced, on the same site, by the current church, completed in a similar style in 1927. The original bell of the third meeting house is used in the present building.

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