Later Meeting Houses

CHAPTER XXIV.

———

Second and Third Houses of Worship —
Sale of Pews in the Second House —
Rededication — Parsonage.

———

Such parts of the frame of the first house of worship as could be utilized in the second were placed in the frame of that structure, and the building contains reminders of the primeval forest. When the second meeting-house was completed the spire reached the height of one hundred feet from the surface of the ground, and was regarded as a superior specimen of the architecture of the day, which opinion is endorsed by modern architects. The house still stands as a monument of the perseverance, fidelity and self-sacrifice of the people of Bedford. [*1]

This house was more distinctly a house of worship, as all matters of a secular nature were forbidden by a vote of the town. It retains its original appearance on the outside, with the exception of the south end. There were windows for the benefit of the congregation on either side of the pulpit and a means for lighting the desk; but these were all removed at the first season of repairing after the separation, and the high pulpit with its surroundings was substituted by one of more modern design. [^1] A later act was to shut off the galleries from the room below; and at the most recent repairing, mentioned elsewhere, a touch of modern art was given to the interior of the house. [*2] A plan is now (April, 1891) soon to be carried out, whereby a partial return to the original inside plan will be made, and much waste room will be utilized for social purposes.

The following is the list of purchasers of the pews when the house was completed, with prices paid. It will be seen that several individuals

[ p 56 ]

bought more than one, it being their way of aiding the enterprise.

Name of Purchaser.Sum Total Sold for.
Levi Willson$162.00
Thompson Bacon, Esq.$144.50
Alford Fitch$176.50
Lieut. Mather Hayward$166.00
Michael Crosby$167.00
Joshua Page$166.50
Lieut. John Merriam$159.00
Jeremiah Fitch, Boston$160.00
Capt. John Reed$145.50
Stephen Lane$137.50
David Fitch$122.50
Benjamin Bacon, Jr.$123.00
Job Lane$104.00
Zebedee Simonds$103.00
Joel Fitch$89.00
Jesse Robinson$89.50
Michael Crosby$66.50
Daize Skelton$64.50
Dr. Amariah Preston$139.00
Timothy Jones$136.50
Jonathan Lane$128.50
Loel Sprague [*3]$150.50
Capt. David Reed$149.00
Jeremiah Fitch, Boston$133.00
Benjamin Simonds, Jr.$131.00
Solomon Lane$132.00
Dea. Moses Fitch$139.50
David Lane$109.50
John Webber$117.00
Capt. David Reed$112.00
Roger Lane$120.00
Michael Crosby$118.00
Willard Buttrick$125.00
John Jones$111.00
Moses Page$115.00
Jeremiah Fitch, Boston$87.50
Asa Mead$95.50
Eleazer Davis, Jr.$99.50
Joseph Brown$98.00
Oliver Pollard$87.50
Nathaniel Page, Jr.$88.00
Lieut. John Merriam$68.00
William Webber$74.50
Josiah Hill$56.50
David Rice$64.00
Moses Fitch, Jr.$140.00
John Reed$138.00
Elijah Stearns, Esq.$139.50
Capt. Elijah Skelton$139.50
Simeon Stearns$140.50
Jonas Putnam$139.50
Samuel Sage$99.00
James Webber$99.50

Name of Purchaser.Sum Total Sold for.
Eliab B. Lane$79.50
Capt. William Goodridge$80.50
Name of Purchaser.Sum Total Sold for.
Lieut. Mather Hayward$44.00
David Fitch$44.50
Benjamin Simonds, Jr.$43.00
Elijah Bacon$42.50
David Reed, Jr.$44.50
Obed Pollard$43.00
Benjamin and Zebedee Simonds$35.00
Lieut. Simeon Blodgett$44.00
William Hartwell, Jr.$30.50
Capt. David Reed$31.00
Sampson Spaulding, Billerica$31.00
James Wright, Jr.$32.50
John Reed, 3d$30.00
Capt. Elijah Skelton$26.50
Joshua Page$33.00
Michael Crosby$29.00
Pews in Galleries.

Dea. Moses Fitch was chosen to give the deeds of the pews in behalf of the town, and his daughter, Rachel, very skilful with the pen, wrote the entire number.

The people were contented to remain through the long services, both of forenoon and afternoon, in the meeting-house, with no fire, until about 1830, when the question of introducing some heating apparatus was agitated; but it met with severe opposition and defeat at first.

The first innovation was a clumsy machine to furnish heat for the pulpit, so as to enable the minister to warm his fingers sufficiently to turn the leaves of his manuscript. The congregation retained their home-made mittens, and shivered on until a later date.

On Nov. 8, 1832, several of the citizens met at “Fuller’s Tavern,” and organized the Trinitarian Congregational Society. They at once proceeded to build a house of worship on land given by Jeremiah Fitch. This was enlarged by adding a chapel in later years. In the progress of time the house required a thorough renovation, which it received in 1886. A needle spire was placed upon the body of the house, ten memorial windows were substituted for the original plain glass, an apartment was added for social purposes, and the whole was completely furnished with modern appliances.

The first service held in the renovated house was that of the rededication, on Sept. 30, 1886. [*4] Then the sons and daughters of the town came home and made merry together under the roof built by the fathers fifty-three years before. Order of exercises:—

[ tipped-in page ]

[ portrait photo ]
Esther (Blood) Chamberlin.

[ p 57 ]

Organ Voluntary. [*5]
Anthem.
Address of Welcome and Prayer, by Rev. Edwin Smith, Pastor.
Doxology.
Hymn.
Reading of Scriptures.
Hymn.
Historical Address, by Rev. W. J. Batt.
Prayer of Dedication, by Rev. H. J. Patrick.

Dedication Ode, by Abram E. Brown.

Tune: Hamburg.

With joy to-day the children meet
Beneath the roof their fathers built;
With thankful hearts our song we raise
To Him who guided all their ways.

Here of their means they freely gave,
Of faith and prayer abundance had.
A godly man their leader was;
With him they fought a noble cause.

A Christian band those builders were;
Their deeds of valor oft were told;
Then, too, shall we no longer wait
To honor them whose work was great.

Father, our faith again inspire.
While we again our vows declare;
Accept this house, with all we bring,
A gift of love to Thee, our King.

Benediction, by the Pastor.

Collation and social reunion from 5 to 7 P.M. [*6] Evening service at 7: Singing by Temple Quartette, of Boston; short addresses by former pastors and representatives of the founders of the church.

Parsonage.— In the days when the settlement of a minister meant a lifetime of service, “a settlement fee” was given in addition to the regular salary. This was to enable the pastor to provide his own dwelling; and not infrequently the preacher conducted the affairs of his own farm. This was the case with the four ministers settled by this town.

Brief pastorates at length rendered this custom impracticable for clergymen in general; and the difficulty of securing suitable tenements, at times, prompted several gentlemen, members of the Trinitarian Congregational Society, to purchase the estate on the corner of Main and South Streets for the use of the minister of the society. This property was held by the company for a while, but in the year 1872, after the death of Dea. Amos Hartwell, through the proposition of his widow it was given to the Trinitarian Congregational Society. The donors were—

Mrs. Louisa Hartwell$400
Benjamin F. Hartwell$400
Phinehas W. Chamberlin$400
Samuel Davis$400
Thaddeus H. Davis$250
Mrs. Mary A. Putnam$50
Jonathan A. Lane$25
Josiah A. Stearns$25
Marcus A. Latham, Moses E. Rowe,
Charles L. Wait, in equal shares,$50

SOURCE TEXT


EMENDATIONS

Punctuation of dollar amounts silently standardized throughout.

  1. more modern ∨ more more modern

ANNOTATIONS

  1. “the house”: now First Parish Church: 75 Great Road
  2. cf. (in this volume) p 17
  3. “Loel”: Lowell
  4. “the renovated house”: now First Church of Christ: 25 Great Road
  5. “organ voluntary”: organ music
  6. “collation”: refreshments
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