Baltimore, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The First Unitarian Church of Baltimore
(Unitarian and Universalist)
The Rev. Dr. William Ellery Channing delivered a landmark sermon here on May 5, 1819, at the ordination of the first minister, Jared Sparks. The sermon, defined the essence of Unitarianism in the United States and led to the formation of the denomination in 1824. This has come to be known as the Baltimore Sermon. Channing emphasized freedom, reason, and tolerance and taught that the way we live is more important than the words and symbols we use to describe our faith, a truth that has inspired a commitment to social justice with theological diversity.
Throughout its history, the church has been committed to community service. During the Civil War, the Reverend John F. W. Ware worked with abolitionists
Built in 1818 by Maximilian Godefroy, The First Unitarian Church of Baltimore is recognized as the finest American example of French Romantic Classicism. A daring modern design when it was constructed, the building utilizes the basic shapes of the cube and the sphere with a minimum of detail on the flat planes to emphasize the geometry of the structure. It is the first building in North America built to be and used continuously as a Unitarian church. In the late 19th century, major reconstruction of the interior and sanctuary was undertaken, when a Tiffany mosaic and windows were added, as well as the magnificent Niemann organ.
Erected by the City of Baltimore, William Donald Schaefer, mayor, rededicated 2008, Shiela Dixon, mayor.
Marker series. Maryland, Baltimore City historical markers, and the National Historic Landmarks marker series.
Location. 39° 17.712′ N, 76° 36.938′ W. Marker is in Baltimore, Maryland. Marker is at the intersection of West Franklin Street (U.S. 40) and North Charles Street, on the right when traveling west on West Franklin Street. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Baltimore MD 21201, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named The First Unitarian Church of Baltimore (here, next to this marker); First Unitarian Church (a few steps from this marker); Expanding the American Intellect: Icons and Iconoclasts (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); George Washington Bicentennial Marker (about 400 feet away); Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (about 400 feet away); Walters Art Museum (about 500 feet away); Enoch Pratt Free Library (about 500 feet away); John H. B. Latrobe House (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Baltimore.
More about this marker. This marker was installed in 2008 to replace a missing one that likely had similar text.
Also see . . .
1. Photographs of the church from the Historic American Buildings Survey. (Submitted on September 19, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
2. Our History. First Unitarian Church of Baltimore. (Submitted on September 19, 2015, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • Churches, Etc. • Notable Buildings • Notable Persons •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. This page has been viewed 2,729 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on , by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. 3. submitted on , by Christopher Busta-Peck of Shaker Heights, Ohio. 4, 5, 6, 7. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.