Church History

History of Our Church

The first church was constructed at our present site in 1743 on land donated by Nathaniel Cunningham, a wealthy Cambridge merchant.  At that time the land was part of Leicester.  The town of Spencer was not established until April 12, 1753, when a bill was signed by Lt. Governor Spencer Phipps.  The building was little more than a barn with unplaned boards for walls that were nailed up without clapboards and without plaster or paneling in the interior.  There were no pews and only a subfloor.  The church was known at the time as the Second Church of Leicester.  Many improvements took place over the years.

            In 1772, a larger church building was erected.  This building was reportedly “substantial" and even "elegant” for the time.

            The Church Society was formed on May 17, 1744 with the signing of the covenant by the eight members.  On November 7, 1744, Rev. Joshua Eaton was ordained.  He was the church’s first minister and served for 27 years.  He is buried in the cemetery behind the church.

             A steeple and bell were added in 1802.  In 1820, the church school was formed under the pastorate of Rev. Stephen Crosby, the third minister.  It was considered one of the first in the nation.

            In 1832, William Pope, son of the second minister, Rev. Joseph Pope, donated land to the church for a vestry building.  A one-story building was erected on the land to the west of the church.  In addition to its use as a vestry, it was also used as a school.  In 1859, this building was removed, and a high school was built in its place.  In 1888, this building was removed and replaced by David Prouty High School.  This currently houses the Senior Living at Prouty.

            The church was remodeled inside and out in 1838.  The whole building was turned one- quarter around with its front facing the south.  Hinged pews were installed.

            The church building was destroyed by fire on January 1, 1862.  The present church was built and dedicated in 1863.

            In 1881, improvements were made by adding a “Ladies’ Parlor” (now the Memorial Library) and a kitchen.  Substantial changes were made in 1885.  The building was extended north forty feet after excavations were made on the land behind the church.  The interior was redesigned and remodeled.

            A one-story wooden structure was added to the east side of the building in 1960.  It contained eight classrooms, a minister’s study, and a secretary’s office.  It was dedicated on Sunday, November 13, 1960.

Two large murals were painted on the west wall of Mary Porter Hall by Sara Mase in 1972.

            In 1993, an elevator was installed, and in 1994 the sanctuary was renovated, and a handicapped accessible bathroom was installed.

            Church members voted in 1998 in favor of the proposal to join the United Church of Christ.  This merged the Congregational Church with the Evangelical and Reformed Churches.

 

 

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