An Open and Affirming Congregation of the United Church of Christ
Our Historic Meetinghouse
On October 27, 1719 the proprietors of the town voted “that the meeting house be on Rocky Plain near the pines”, the location being just easterly of the present meeting house at the head of the Common.
On May 14, 1721, William Taylor conveyed to the proprietors 15 acres which embraced probably a part of the present cemetery, the property at the junction of Boylston and Prospect Streets, a part at number two Prospect Street, the Common, part of the Sumner place, the school house, library, and the corner at Main and Boylston Streets, where formerly stood the Old Town Hall.
In 1721 erection of the first meeting house, 40 x 32 feet, was begun. The cost was £210 pounds, which amounted to £5 pounds per family.
This meeting house had at first no steeple or bell; “the ornamentation, though simple, was artistic both inside and out, and all painted white.” (Elizabeth Ward, OLD TIMES IN SHREWSBURY MASSACHUSETTS, 1892.)
After 45 years, the original meeting house was taken down and the boards were saved for the new church, which was built in 1766. The church was designed by Daniel Hemenway in the Federal style and was 55 x 43 feet. The building committee included Daniel Hemenway, Henry Baldwin, Silas Witherby, Nathan Howe, and Artemas Ward (following his father’s example of being a church leader). It was built with the help of all the townspeople.
A steeple was added to the building in 1807, followed by its first bell in 1808 and, later, a clock. The building was moved in 1834 by putting logs under the building and then rolling it on the logs. It was turned ninety degrees and moved 50 feet back from the Common to its present location, facing South. A vestry was constructed under it.
In 1923 a parish house with a basement and a hall above was added to the North end. Shrewsbury experienced a hurricane in 1938 and the original steeple was blown off, going through the roof about 50 feet to the North. A new one was built on the ground and hoisted into place.
A three-story addition with a chapel and other rooms was dedicated in the Spring of 1956, and in 1965 a second three-story addition was built, which included an elevator.
This church building is still being used today, 300 years later.