First Congregational Church of Rockport // 1805

Fondly referred to as the “Old Sloop” in town (a name conferred by local fishermen in the 1800s), the First Congregational Church of Rockport stands as one of the most prominent landmarks in the old village. The village of Sandy Bay (now downtown Rockport) had a growing population since the 1700s. Prior to 1755, churchgoers from Sandy Bay made the journey every Sunday by horse or foot in good weather to the parish in Annisquam or the First Parish in Gloucester, and in poor weather, met in a small log schoolhouse on this site. Eventually, a church building was erected in town, which was used until after the Revolutionary War. In 1805, a new meetinghouse was built where it stands today. In 1814, the British invaded Sandy Bay colony and residents rang the Old Sloop’s bell to sound the alarm. British forces fired a cannon at the bell to silence it, but hit the steeple instead. A replica cannonball can be seen to this day in the steeple as a nod to that historic event. In 1840, the people of Sandy Bay voted to establish the Town of Rockport. At that time, the meetinghouse was completely redecorated and the steeple enlarged. After the Civil War, the church was outgrown, and in 1872, the Old Sloop building was cut in half and separated by about twenty feet with an addition built in the middle. At that time the steeple was enlarged and strengthened to accommodate a new and heavier bell and the Town Clock. In 2015, the church began a campaign to replace the deteriorated steeple, which was rebuilt, faux cannonball and all!

Bramanville Congregational Church // 1804

Not just your typical white New England church here… this one was moved! This church was built in 1804 in the north parish of Sutton (present day Millbury, Massachusetts). In the 1700s, the members of the northern part of Sutton petitioned to have a parish church of their own, rather than trekking across the large town to gather for town meetings and religious purposes. They were permitted to erect a parish church inn 1743, and built a church. The building was replaced in 1804, thanks to the wealth and new members of town moving there for manufacturing. Years later, the parish petitioned the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to have the North Parish of Sutton become the town of Millbury, due to the difference in needs being a mill town compared to Sutton’s more pastoral living, and they were designated as a town in 1813. The first town meeting of Millbury was held at First Congregational Church of Millbury that year on the town common. As industry along the Blackstone River picked up, so came waves of workers, many of whom were recent immigrants to New England. It was soon decided that the town church should relocate to provide a new center for town. In 1835, this church was moved about a mile away and erected high on a hill, in Bramanville village, a bustling industrial village. The church has remained in its location in Bramanville, even after the town center again moved, this time eastward to its present location. The Greek Revival style church elegantly reflects the significance of ecclesiastical buildings in early New England towns.

Collinsville Congregational Church // 1858

Shortly after Collins and Company was founded in 1826, religious services were held in various homes in the South Canton Village which came to be known as Collinsville. In 1830, the Collins Company erected its first office building on Front Street, and religious services were held there on the second floor. The first church building was erected on land bought by Collins and Company in 1826. By the mid-1850’s, the church membership was outgrowing the building. Although there may have been plans to enlarge the building, tragedy struck and in January 1857, and the church was consumed by fire, which started in the chimney, during a winter storm. The current building was erected almost immediately and dedicated on February 25, 1858. The present church is a grand Greek Revival style building, with a full pediment and large entablature supported by four monumental fluted columns. The two-tiered, square belfry has engaged columns as well. What a great example of a New England church!

Washington Congregational Church // 1840

Located adjacent to the Washington Meeting House and Central Schoolhouse on the Washington, New Hampshire Town Green, the Washington Congregational Church perfectly compliments the collection of vernacular buildings here to create a very cohesive, three-building historic district. The church is dominated by a Gothic-inspired two stage square tower adorned by pointed pinnacles and crenellation. The building, constructed in 1840, is a great example of a Gothic Revival vernacular church building in rural New Hampshire and has been well-maintained over the years. In 1960, a fire in the church resulted in several thousand dollars worth of damage. A full basement was built under the church in 1985 to provide space for Sunday School classes and events. The simple arched sanctuary has remained in keeping with the original interior design, and features wide board wainscoting and wooden pews, taken from the old Meeting House.