FORM B - BUILDING

Massachusetts Historical Commission 80 Boylston Street Boston, Massachusetts 02116

Assessor's number

USGS Quad

Area(s)

Form Number

I

70-295

II

Marlborough

I

I

194

Town

Marlborough
East Yi1Iage/

Place (neighborhood or village)

Spring HilJ Address 37 High Street Union Congregational Church/ Historic Narnefs) First Church in Marlborough, Congregational Uses: Present ] Tniled Church of Christ, Congregational Original Congregational Church Date of Construction Source 1853 Hudson formerly ltalianate
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unknown Exterior Material:

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"ketch Map Draw a map of the area indicating propenies within it. Number each property for which individual inventory forms have been completed. Label streets including route numbers, if any. A uach a separate sheet if space is not sufficient here. Indicate north.
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Foundation WaUffrim Roof Outbuildings/Secondary

granite synthetic siding asphalt shingle Structures _

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Major Alterations

(with dates) B oaf a ad
Parish Han added

steeple rebuilt 1938-39
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at rear, ] 959 Condition

See also P 2 fair Date __
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Moved [X] no [ ] yes Acreage 'Recorded by vrganization Date Anne Forbes for Marlboro Hjs! Corom Setting

Jess than one acre At corner of High and Bolton Streets,

facing soHth over the 1 Inion CommoD, jn area of 19tb-C houses

2/25./94

BUILDING

FORM

ARCHITECfURAL DESCRIPTION { ] see continuation sheet Describe architectural features. Evaluate the characteristics of this building in terms of other buildings within the community. In spite of the loss of its steeple and the undertaking of renovations that have removed or covered architectural trim, the Union Church maintains the classic character of a two-story Italianate gableroofed rectangular church of the third quarter of the nineteenth century. The sanctuary is four bays deep, with a line of round-headed colored glass windows on either side. At the sides of the basement story, three 8-over-8-sash windows light the vestry. The facade is three-bay, with a shallow-projecting center pavilion merging at the front gable with the square base of the bell tower. Flanking the pavilion are two tiers of small paired leaded-glass round-headed windows, with a single window at the first story. The pavilion is filled at sanctuary level by a single large leaded, colored-glass round-headed window. The walls at the base of the pavilion flare slightly outward, where a single recessed entry contains a modem 6-panel, double-leaf door and leaded-glass surround in a segmental-arched opening. The church originally had a 100-foot-high three-stage steeple. The present roof and "Bulfinch" belfry were constructed in 1938-40, after the Hurricane of '38 blew down the steeple and destroyed the original roof. The bronze bell, cast by Paul Revere, is the one that had hung in the former Spring Hill Meetinghouse of 1806. It was recast after the 1852 fire that destroyed that building, and again in 1892. Inscribed on it are the words "I remind all of worship, liberty, burial and immortality, 1806". The large parish hall, which spans the rear of the church and chancel and extends east as a two-story wing, was added in 1959. An iron-picket fence lines the property's west edge along Bolton Street. An early-twentieth-century stone-and-concrete retaining wall with ball-topped square posts fronts the church on High Street. Historic maps clearly show the long wooden horse sheds that for decades lined the north and east edge of the property. The last one was removed sometime in the twentieth century. HISTORICAL NARRATIVE [X] see continuation sheet Explain history of the building. Explain its associations with local (or state) history. Include uses of the building, and the rale(s) the owners/occupants played within the community. Although this building dates to 1853, the society that is today associated with Marlborough's first Congregational church is over 330 years old, representing the unbroken continuation of the original religious society established in the town. A month after the August 8, 1660 incorporation of Marlborough, a meeting was held calling for the settling of the town's first minister, the Rev. William Brinsmead, [this is his own spelling, also commonly seen as "Brimsmead"], and establishing a tax to pay for his support. The next year the townspeople began the building of the minister's house. In 1662 it was finished, and money appropriated for erecting a house of public worship. Completed the next year, that first meeting house stood on "the old common," a plot of land located between today's Rawlins and Prospect Streets. That original church, along with the minister's residence and several other houses, was burned in 1676 during King Philip's War. (Cont.) BIBLIOGRAPHY and/or REFERENCES [ ] see continuation sheet Bigelow, Ella. Historical Reminiscences of the Early Times in Marlborough. 1910. Hudson, Charles. HistOl)' of the Town of Marlborough. 1862. Centennial, '90: Marlborough the City. 1990. Maps and Atlases: Former building: Hudson: 1830, Wood: 1835; Present building: Walling: 1853, 1857, 1871; Beers: 1875; Bailey & Hazen: 1878; Walker: 1889; Sanborns. Warren, Hazel. First Church in Marlborough. 1966. [ X] Recommended for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. If checked, a completed National Register Criteria Statement form is attached.

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INVENTORY FORM CONTINUATION SHEET

Community Marlborough

Property Union Congregational Church Form No. 194

Massachusetts Historical Commission 80 Boylston Street Boston, Massachusetts 02116

Area(s) I

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE, cont. It was believed at the time that the local native people had resented the fact that this structure, tbe most sacred to the settlers, bad been built on tbe corner of part of land in Marlborough reserved for tbem, tbe "Indian Planting Field." After the war ended and the townspeople returned, they replaced the meeting house with another on the same site, although it was not until 1706 that the land on which it stood officially and indisputedly came into town ownership. This second meeting house, mostly constructed in 1677, had a thatched roof like the first. It was never completed, however, and deteriorated rapidly. In 1688 a larger meeting bouse was built nearby to replace it; that one stood until the beginning of the nineteenth century. In 1801 tbe town voted 93-40 to replace the old church. Since the early part of the eighteenth century, however, conflict had been growing between the inhabitants of different parts of town, and that feeling apparently played a part in the continuing inability of the congregation to agree on a site for the new building. In a pattern typical of early New England towns, from the time of the first settlement near the "old common," a small clustered village had gradually developed in the area of the meeting house. By the turn of the nineteenth century, however, a larger vi1Jage of over two dozen buildings had grown up a third of a mile to the east, flanking the Boston Post Road at the foot of Spring Hill. At first the town voted to locate the new building on the site of the old one; a day later the vote was reconsidered and a 22-member committee was chosen to look into the matter and decide on a location. Surveys showed tbat the geographic center of town had shifted east from the original meeting house location, and that, because of changes in town boundaries, tbe center was now located at Spring Hill. Finally, late in a meeting on June 4, 1804, a vote was passed to locate the new meeting house not in the old "west village", but in the east village, on Spring Hill. Eighty inhabitants of the west village immediately convened and resolved to separate into a new religious society, precinct or town, and to build their own meeting house. Their petitions to form a new town were rejected by both the town voters and the legislature, but their efforts to form a new religious society met with success, and they set about building their own meeting house on today's Pleasant Street. (See Form #74: West Church.) In the meantime, plans to build a new church on Spring Hill continued. The town officially voted to do so on January 7, 1805, and appointed a building committee. By early February the committee had contracted with a builder named Kendall for its construction. Residents of the west village attempted to get the town to reconsider its vote for the Spring Hill site; when Town Meeting refused on the basis of the valid contract with Mr. Kendall, they requested tbat the size of the building be reduced, as it would be used by a smaller portion of the townspeople than originally intended. This, too, was refused, and tbe building project was completed. The ultimate cost of the building was $24,000, as opposed to the West Church's $8,000. Its price plunged both the townspeople and some individual donors into economic hardship for some time, and so angered those in the west village that what had been a rivalry deepened into an animosity tbat lasted for many years. Ironically, both buildings were opened for public worship on the same day, April 27, 1806. (Cont.)

INVENTORY FORM CONTINUATION SHEET

Community Marlborough

Property Union Congregational Church Form No. 194

Massachusetts Historical Commission 80 Boylston Street Boston, Massachusetts 02116

Area(s)
I

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE, cont. In 1808, the west society became officially incorporated as the Second Parish in Marlborough, (also commonly called the West Parish, while the older organization became the First, or "East" Parish.) The first pastor of the West Church was the Rev. Asa Packard, who in 1806 had resigned, after thirty years as minister of the town, rather than continue at the new Spring Hill meeting house. Other ministers who had served the town in its only church prior to 1806 included the Rev. Robert Breck, who served from 1704 (three years after the Rev. Brinsmead died,) until his death in 1731. Considered a "non-conformist," the Rev. Breck had maintained peace within the society even during the 1720's, the turbulent period when IINewLightism'' was beginning to exert its revivalist influence. He was followed in 1733 by the Rev. Benjamin Kent. Kent was an advocate of Arminianism, a controversial doctrine of another sort, that was to later influence the development of both Methodism and Unitarianism. In 1735, under growing criticism that he was "unsound in faith" and "wanting in orthodoxy,", the Rev. Kent resigned, sued the town, and moved to Boston, where he became a prominent lawyer. In 1740 the Rev. Aaron Smith was ordained, and served the church and town through the period of the Great Awakening and into the Revolution. He was suspected of being a Royalist, at one time shots were fired into his house, and after several attempts were made to get him to resign, he was finally dismissed in 1778. For the rest of the war the town was without a minister. Eventually, in 1785, the Rev. Asa Packard was ordained in the old church. Another liberal theologian, he became sympathetic to Unitarianism during the early years of its development in Massachusetts. It is quite likely that this change in belief was a driving factor behind his 1806 resignation and subsequent move to the West Parish, where the members of that rebellious congregation were more receptive to the liberal Unitarian theology. In any case, from the time of the establishment of the Second Parish and the building of the two new churches, the West Parish gradually grew to espouse Unitarianism, while the society at Spring Hill, (the First, or "East" Parish.) represented a continuation of "orthodox" Congregationalism, with its belief in the Trinity and the unquestioned divinity of Christ. After the resignation of Mr. Packard, it chose as its minister the Rev. Sylvester F. Bucklin, who served until 1832. In 1833, part of the congregation withdrew from the First Parish, and formed the First Evangelical Congregational Society, which chose as its pastor the Rev. Charles Forbush. Differences between the two Congregational societies were resolved in 1835, when the First Parish and the First Evangelical Congregational Society united to form the Union Society. Shortly afterward, the 1806 building, which had been referred to at various times as the Spring Hill Meeting House, the East Church, and the First Parish Church, was renamed the Union Congregational Church in Marlborough, a name it and its two successors held for many years. It was apparently at this time that the spacious, church-owned land stretching from the church down to Main Street acquired the name, the Union Common. (See Form #911). The Rev. John N. Goodhue was settled in 1836, but died in 1839 at the age of 29. In the first year of his tenure, the old church was taken down, and replaced with a smaller building. The Rev. Goodhue was followed by George E. Day, (1840-1847,) Daniel L. Ogden (1848-1859,) and eventually the Rev. Levi A. Field, in 1853. (Cont.)

INVENTORY FORM CONTINUATION SHEET

Community Marlborough

Property Union Congregational Church Form No. 194

Massachusetts Historical Commission 80 Boylston Street Boston, Massachusetts 02116

Arears)
I

HISTORICAL NARRATIVE, cont. When the Rev. Field was ordained, however, it was not in the 1836 church, but in the present one. In the summer of 1852, the former building underwent extensive repairs, and a new organ was installed. The building re-opened for worship in September, but on November 10 was completely destroyed by fire, supposedly set by an arsonist. By the summer of 1853 the present building had been erected, facing south over the common, and the Rev. Field was installed the day it opened, August 31, 1853. The building underwent repairs and renovations in 1868, and again in 1886, by which time it had assumed nearly its present form. In 1887-1888, the church again endured conflict with many of the townspeople during a protracted disagreement over the ownership of the Union Common. TIle town claimed ownership, but tile Superior Court eventually decided the case in favor of the Union Society, which in 1834 had officially been granted the common when state and town support for churches ended. Since 1913 the church has been known officially as the First Church in Marlborough, Congregational, and since 1962 has been affiliated with the United Church of Christ.

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Massachusetts Historical Commission 80 Boylston Street Boston, Massachusetts 02116

Community Marlborough

Property Address 37 High Street

Area(s) I

Form No(s). 194

National Register of Historic Places Criteria Statement Form
Check all that apply: [ ] Individually eligible [ ] Eligible only in a historic district [x] Contributing to a potential historic district [] Potential historic district

Criteria:

[x] A

[] B

[x] C [x] A

[] D [] B [] C [] D [] E [] F [] G

Criteria Considerations:

Statement of Significance by __ F_o_r_be_s~1 ~S~ch~u~l~e~r The criteria that are checked in the above sections must be justified here.

_

The Union Congregational Church meets Criterion A for its representation of the development of religious societies in Marlborough and for its connection with the first religious society started in 1660 immediately after Marlborough's incorporation. In spite of alterations, a case can be made to support Criterion C for the building's representation of a mid-nineteenth century Italianate church building, especially as associated with its rare surviving church common (MHC#911) and 1855 parsonage (MHC#193). In all likelihood restoration would qualify the Union Church for an individual nomination to the National Register. The property retains integrity of location, setting, feeling, and association.

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