First Church in Roxbury // 1804 // Federal Style //
The First Church in Roxbury has been in continuous use since early English settlers built the first meetinghouse on this site in 1632. The church building you see today dates back to 1804. It is the fifth meetinghouse built on this site. First Church in Roxbury is the oldest wooden frame church in Boston, and is an excellent example of the Federal Meetinghouse style.
English settlers began arriving in the area, originally named Roxborough, in 1630. The first congregation gathered in 1631 and by 1632 settlers completed their first meetinghouse: a small, simple building with a thatched roof.
Roxbury’s famous minister, Rev. John Eliot, arrived in Boston in 1631 and began serving at the First Church in Roxbury in 1632. John Eliot became known as the “Apostle to the Indians” for preaching to Native Americans, training them to be ministers in their communities, and translating the Bible into the Algonquin language. Eliot also fought against selling Native Americans into slavery, and was instrumental in establishing free education for residents of Roxbury and other nearby towns.
In 2013, Historic Boston Inc worked with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Boston to complete a comprehensive assessment of the building and prepare for its restoration which has been completed fairly recently.