This large wooden building in Waterford, Maine, looks much like a church, because it was built as one in 1844! The building was constructed as a Universalist Church just over a decade after a local Universalist Society was formed in the area in 1830. In the subsequent decades of the church’s founding, dwindling membership by the time of the Civil War required the group to sell the building to local businessmen. The town rented a space in the building which used a floor as a school, after an additional floor was added to the base, giving the building the vertical appearance it has today. in 1896, the Bear Mountain Grange purchased the building as a meeting hall, allowing the school to operate in the building (an arrangement that lasted until 1949)! The building has seen better days, but besides the chipping paint and some wood-rot, it retains the original windows and has been relatively un-altered!
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.
The Universalist Society of Strafford, founded in 1798, is the second oldest in Vermont and fourth oldest in the nation. In the early years, Universalists met in Strafford’s Town House, sharing the building with other denominations. Eventually the Universalists, Baptists, and Congregationalists all built their own churches, with the Universalists building a structure in 1833 in South Strafford Village. The white clapboarded church sits high on a hill with a gorgeous belfry and large stained glass windows.
Tucked away off Main Street in North Adams you’ll find this charming little church. The Universalists were organized in North Adams in 1842, restoring an existing church near the Hoosic River. The congregation chose a site for a new church in 1852, and erected a white wooden chapel. It is unclear if the church was outgrown or a fire destroyed it, but the Unitarian society voted to build this church for a cost of approximately $25,000 in 1892. Architect Henry Neill Wilson of Pittsfield drew the plans, and the firm of Porter and Harnam of North Adams constructed the church. Due to the declining population in town in the mid-20th century, the church struggled and was sold to a private owner. The building began to decay by the 1970s and was later sold in 1996 to Barbara and Eric Rudd to house artist Eric Rudd’s installation entitled “A Chapel for Humanity”. The building is currently used as the Berkshire Art Museum Annex.
This vernacular Greek Revival church was built in 1839 for the Universalist Society in Tunbridge, Vermont. The 45-member congregation gathered funds and had this building constructed on land donated by a member of the church. By about 1910, the church was poorly attended and in accordance with the original deed, when the church fell into disrepair, the property reverted to the owner of the accompanying land. The new owner removed the tower as it was becoming a safety hazard and used the former church as a barn to store hay. In 1972, the building was purchased by the Dybvig Family who restored the exterior of the church and converted it into a learning center for youth and adult classes in a variety of topics.