First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church • 330 First Parish Rd, Scituate MA 02066

Our Historic Building

The Meetinghouse History

Our present building is actually its sixth (since 1634!) Scituate's first meeting house was located on a rise slightly inland from the harbor on Meeting House Lane, and two successive larger meeting houses were located on the same site. A fourth meetinghouse was built farther to the west (on the western edge of what is now Lawson Park). The fifth meeting house was built in 1774 on the site of the present church. It was a large, two-story building with galleries on three sides. Its high, graceful steeple was a landmark for sailors at sea and the church became known as the Old Sloop because of the spire's resemblance to the white sails of a sloop.

On July 4, 1879, children playing with firecrackers on the front steps set fire to the Old Sloop church and it burned to the ground.
The only items saved were the heavy mahogony pulpit, the settee, and the communion table that are used in the church today. Chunks of metal from the Paul Revere bell that melted in the fire were made into miniature bells which were sold to raise funds for the present ediface.

While the present church was being built, services were held in the still-standing Cudworth House (rebuilt in 1797), located across the street.
The present ediface was dedicated in 1881.

First Parish stands in the shadow of another famous Scituate landmark, the Lawson Tower. This Norman-like tower housed a water tower that served the town. Thomas Lawson, a copper magnate, had the structure built to hide the unsightly water tower, and installed a carillon that is still played on the occasion of historic celebrations.
(Above) The tall, pointed stained glass panel located to the left of the pulpit was donated by the Waterman family in memory of Andrew and Lucia D. Waterman. It depicts a three-masted sailing vessel of the type built in the shipyards of the nearby North River during the 19th century.

The window celebrates the extensive involvement of parishioners with seafaring and carries this verse:
"They that go down to the sea in ships 
that do business in great waters: 
these see the works of the Lord 
and his wonders in the deep."
In 2011, solar panels were gifted to First Parish by long-time members Frank and Leslie Kilduff.
Forty-four photovoltaic solar cells were installed on the roof of the church. These cells provide approximately 70% of the annual electricity needs of the church.

The gift was purchased through the Solarize Massachusetts initiative offered to the town through the efforts of Sustainable Scituate to promote local alternative energy. Scituate was one of only four towns in Massachusetts to use this program. The panels and current inverters were made in the US and installed by a local provider.
First Parish is proud to promote solar energy as a power source that reduces our reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels, endorses our UU principal of taking care of the earth, provides employment opportunities for local workers, and reduces our electrical costs.
The present mahogany pulpit, settee, and communion table were the only items saved from the 1879 fire that destroyed the church (the one built in 1774 on the present site). When the interior of the church was redecorated in 1924, two ornate oak chairs from the 1881 rebuild were recovered from the basement of a parishioner, and were refinished; they remain in the sanctuary today, along with a glass-encased 1823 bass viol and other historic pieces.

Our utilities and sound system are considerably more modern!
The 1906 pipe organ was built specifically for the First Parish sanctuary by Hook & Hastings; it was a gift from Cornelia and George Allen. Originally pumped by hand bellows, it was electrified in 1928.

Recently restored, it is concert-quality, and in constant use, making the most of the excellent acoustics of the sanctuary space.