postcard view of First Parish Bridgewater, circa 1911
Postcard view of First Parish Bridgewater, circa 1911. The steeple was lost in a hurricane in the 1950s.

Back in the early days of New World settlement, a new parish meant a new meeting house and eventually a minister. In the New England Puritan tradition, a meeting house was used not only for worship, but for all official town meetings. John Washburn, one of the early settlers of the Parish of South Bridgewater, gave two acres for the construction of the meeting house and for the adjacent burying ground. Sadly, his wife Rebecca was the first person to be laid to rest in the new graveyard. The first meeting house was dedicated on June14, 1717.

This current building, the third one on the site, was constructed in 1845. The oldest part of the building was designed by the prominent local architect Solomon K. Eaton. This church building and the Town Hall (1843) are the finest Greek Revival structures in Bridgewater and reflect the town’s mid-19th Century prosperity. The church was once adorned with a magnificent Christopher Wren steeple, which housed a Paul Revere bell. But during Hurricane Carol in 1954, the steeple fell. Subsequently, the bell was sold and is now owned by the Los Angeles County Museum, although it is not currently on display there.

A Hook Organ was installed in this third meeting house in 1852. At the time, the cost of the organ was approximately $500. Today the organ is priceless. It is known far and wide as an outstanding instrument.

In 1990 the church suffered two devastating arson fires. One positive outcome of these fires was the discovery of some beautiful trompe l’oeil painting throughout the Sanctuary. The interior was then completely restored to its original state.

In 2011, the church received money from the Bridgewater Community Preservation Committee to undertake much-needed restoration to its front façade. This was completed and our freshly restored and re-painted Greek Revival portico faces south to the original 1716 burial ground and the Bridgewater State University Art Center.

 

 

 

Directions

Our Google Maps link offers you door-to-door directions for driving, walking, biking, or public transit.

Public Transit

We are located on the campus of Bridgewater State College, and within walking distance of the Bridgewater stop on the MBTA Commuter Rail.