First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury

The church/meetinghouse was erected in 1721-1722 in the approximate location of the current First Congregational Church. The meetinghouse had no steeple or bell, and while the ornamentation was simple, it was artistic both inside and out. The first pastor, Rev. Job Cushing, served for 37 years until his sudden death on August 6, 1760. In June of 1762, the Rev. Joseph Sumner was invested as the new pastor. He was a popular preacher, and growing attendance required the building of a larger church.

The meetinghouse was taken down in July 1766 and the boards were included in the construction of a new church, which opened that same month. A steeple was added to the building in 1807, followed by a bell in 1808, and later a clock. The building was moved in 1834, rotated by 90 degrees and moved 50 feet south, by rolling it on logs.

First Congregational Church 2
First Congregational Church 3
First Congregational Church 1
 

Fun Facts!

  • The meetinghouse was built as a requirement of the General Court of the Crown granting the residents’ petition to form a new township.
  • The meetinghouse cost £210, which amounted to £5 per family in Shrewsbury.
  • Parishioners were originally summoned to services by the beating of a drum.
  • When the meetinghouse became a church in 1766, the builders ordered a barrel of rum brought all the way from Boston to mark the occasion.
  • In 1938, a hurricane blew the original steeple off the church and through its own roof. A new one was built on the ground and hoisted into place.
  • In 1965, a three-story addition was built, including the church’s first elevator.
  • The First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury celebrated its 300th year in 2023.