First Church in Salem

First Church in Salem (officially known as the First Church in Salem, Unitarian Universalist) is a Unitarian Universalist church in Salem, Massachusetts that was designed by Solomon Willard and built in 1836.[1] Before the church was built, around 1635, its members had to gather in houses or a building near the Town House Square.[2] The congregation claims to be "one of the oldest continuing Protestant churches in North America and the first to be governed by congregational polity, a central feature of Unitarian Universalism".[3]

First Church in Salem
First Church in Salem, Unitarian
A photograph of a grey-bricked building with grated windows and a tower protruding from the middle with a white flagpole on top flying a red, white, and blue flag
Pictured in 2010
42°31′17″N 70°53′58″W / 42.5215°N 70.8994°W / 42.5215; -70.8994Coordinates: 42°31′17″N 70°53′58″W / 42.5215°N 70.8994°W / 42.5215; -70.8994
LocationSalem, Massachusetts
CountryUnited States
DenominationUnitarian Universalism
Previous denominationPuritanism
Architect(s)Solomon Willard
Architectural typeGothic Revival
Minister(s)Elizabeth Ide

The values of the Puritans who founded the First Church in Salem stated that they were on a pilgrimage to the city of God. This made them want to perfect their world and community. It also made some of their members such as third minister Roger Williams, activists in the community. He specifically argued that Native Americans should be compensated for their land and that the colonial government should not have power over the church.[3]

Thomas Treadwell Stone became minister of the church on July 12, 1846.[4] In December 1851, the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society held their annual general meeting at the church.[5] For twelve years, Charles Wentworth Upham was minister of the church.[6] Grace Parker commissioned a stained-glass window for the church in dedication to her late husband, George Swinnerton Parker of Parker Brothers fame, and their two sons.[7]


  1. ^ Blanche M. G. Linden (2007). Silent City on a Hill: Picturesque Landscapes of Memory and Boston's Mount Auburn Cemetery. University of Massachusetts Press. p. 218. ISBN 978-1558495715.
  2. ^ Pfingsten, Bill (16 June 2016). ""The First Meeting House Erected in Salem."". The Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ William Lloyd Garrison (1973). The Letters of William Lloyd Garrison: No Union with the Slaveholders, 1841-1849. Harvard University Press. p. 343. ISBN 0674526627.
  5. ^ Laura L. Mitchell (1998). John R. McKivigan; Mitchell Snay (eds.). "Matters of Justice Between Man and Man". Religion and the Antebellum Debate over Slavery. University of Georgia Press: 154. ISBN 0820319724.
  6. ^ Alfred F. Rosa (1980). Salem, Transcendentalism, and Hawthorne. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. p. 99. ISBN 0838621597.
  7. ^ Philip Orbanes (2004). The Game Makers: The Story of Parker Brothers from Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit. Harvard Business Press. p. 126. ISBN 1591392691.

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