Early in the 17th century, the Rev. John Lothrop and his followers left England for these shores seeking religious independence. They settled first in Scituate and a few years later came to Barnstable, arriving in 1639. They constructed their first meetinghouse in 1646 on Coggins Pond, about a mile west of this church. Lothrop’s second dwelling in Barnstable is the current Public Library in town (featured previously). In the early 19th century there was considerable theological debate in the “churches of the standing order” in New England. Many churches actually split over this debate, the traditionalists becoming Congregationalists and the liberals becoming Unitarians. The Eastern Parish in town was thus occupied by the Unitarians. In 1836 the original meeting house was removed and a new, larger one was constructed. It was destroyed by fire in 1905, and planning began for a new church. The present edifice was dedicated in 1907, and was designed by architect Guy Lowell, the architect of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the New York County Courthouse. His traditional, Classical designs were featured in publications all over the country. This church in the Classical Revival style is one of the finest on Cape Cod.
Wilton, New Hampshire’s original land grant included 240 acres for a church and stipulated that a building must be erected by 1752. From this, settlers built a log church. For the first ten years traveling preachers supplied the pulpit. In 1763, Rev. Jonathan Livermore became the first settled minister. In April 1773, the town voted to provide six barrels of rum, a barrel of brown sugar, half a box of lemons and two loaves of loaf sugar for framing and raising a new meetinghouse. In 1859, a fire destroyed the Revolutionary-era church/meetinghouse, and members immediately began the construction of a new, modern building. The present building blends Greek and Gothic revival styles in a later, vernacular form.
This Unitarian Universalist Church in Rockport was built in 1829 after 23 founders came together to sign a compact to build a new church. The Gothic Revival church building was given its 93-foot steeple in 1867 and it has stood tall since! The church stands just off Main Street and has long been active in local and national events since its founding. The church’s website states, “In 1843, we prepared resolutions against slavery, intemperance, and war. In 1861, a person threw a smoking bomb through a window into our sanctuary, during an anti-slavery lecture by a noted abolitionist. The crowd evacuated, but later returned to hear the rest of the talk. In 1884, our Society hired its first female pastor, Lorenza Haynes, past Chaplain to The Maine Senate and House.“ Today, the church collaborates with the Cape Ann Slavery and Abolition Trust, which investigates and shares the role the slave trade played in Cape Ann’s families, industries, and economies and in the lives of enslaved people.
Reverend Adin Ballou, the founder of the Hopedale Community, created a Christian anarcho-socialist utopia that peacefully resisted government coercion and provided refuge for other white Christian anarchists but especially for freed enslaved people. In 1841, he and other Christian anarchists purchased a farm west of Milford, Massachusetts and named it Hopedale. The community was settled in 1842. The early commune regularly hosted progressive seminars on the topics like free love and proto-feminism and had black abolitionists like Frederick Douglass give talks on the plight of enslaved people. As per the request of Douglass, the Hopedale Community harbored and protected a runaway slave for some time. The practical end of the Community came in 1856 when two of Ballou’s closest supporters, Ebenezer and George Draper, withdrew their 75% share of the community’s stock to form the successful Hopedale Manufacturing Company. George claimed the community was not using sound business practices. The community, however, continued on as a religious group until 1867, when it became the Hopedale Parish and rejoined mainstream Unitarianism. After the brothers left the community, they funded a church building for the congregation. In the 1890s, Eben and George Draper funded this newer, large church building designed by Edwin J. Lewis.
The building that gives Burlington’s iconic Church Street its name is this, the Unitarian Church of Burlington. One of the most stunning Federal style churches in New England, the church is the oldest surviving place of worship in Burlington, built in 1816. The church was designed by English architect Peter Banner (possibly with assistance of Charles Bulfinch), years after his crowning achievement, the Park Street Church in Boston was completed. From the head of Church Street, the church oversaw the growth of Burlington from a small lakefront town to the largest city in the state. In August 1954, the church steeple was struck by lightning, causing it to shift over two feet in a matter of months, unknown to the congregation and public. It was decided that due to concerns the steeple may collapse through the building, it was selectively demolished and reconstructed. The church remains an active part in the city and architectural landmark for Burlington.
As many neighborhoods of Braintree, MA developed rapidly at the turn of the 20th century, demand for new neighborhood churches rose. Located at the edge of North Braintree, the All Souls Church is a well-preserved Gothic Revival church . All Souls Church in Braintree is designed in a Gothic Revival style, which had been popular in residential and especially ecclesiastical designs in America since the 1830s and 1840s. Over a half century later, American architects were proficient in Gothic design, and were able to faithfully reproduce the characteristics of Gothic designs from different countries and eras, or even to mix them in interesting ways. Late Gothic Revival elements at All Souls Church include the pointed arches, stone trim, buttresses, battlemented tower, and the large windows filled with stone tracery in lancet designs. The church was designed by Edwin James Lewis, Jr. (1859-1937), an accomplished Boston architect who concentrated on Gothic ecclesiastical designs.Relatively unknown, Lewis actually worked as a draftsman for the prominent Boston firm of Peabody and Stearns before establishing his own practice in 1887. Many of his architectural drawings are in the Historic New England Collections. The church building has been the subject of Community Preservation funds to restore some significant features of the space for the community at large to enjoy.
History from the church’s website:
On November 21, 1886, a group of Braintree residents interested in forming a liberal church met at the Town Hall. By-laws were adopted January 29, 1888. Among the signers were Daniel Cain and Henry Arnold. There was discussion as to whether it should be called Unitarian but as no Unitarians came forward, it was called First Universalist Parish of Braintree. United church services of the two societies began September 23, 1900. At this time All Souls Church requested affiliation with the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America. The Universalists kept their parish organization until 1904 when all funds were turned over to the Building Committee of All Souls Church. Centered in religious faith, All Souls Church continues to have a strong and active presence in the community. We are the beneficiaries of a marvelous Unitarian Universalist tradition that has been cultivated and passed down through the generations.