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Springfield in Hampden County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
 

Old First Church

First Church of Christ, Congregational

 

Founded in 1637

 
Old First Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 5, 2019
1. Old First Church Marker
Inscription.  In the spring of 1636, a small band of early settlers from Roxbury, Massachusetts ventured up the Connecticut River to settle in Springfield, then known by its Indian name of Agawam. Together they executed an agreement which in part reads:

"Wee intend by God's grace, as soon as we can, with all convenient speede to procure some Godly and faithfull minister, with whom we propose to joyne in church covenant, to walk in all the ways of Christ"

Although the first meetinghouse for the combined purposes of church services and town meetings was not built until 1645, the church was organized in the fall of 1637 when the settlers secured the Reverend George Moxon as their first "Godly and faithfull minister."

• Fourteenth Church organized in Massachusetts Bay Colony
• On October 18, 1971 — the first building in Springfield to be designated as a Massachusetts Historical Landmark
• Placed on National Register of Historic Places in 1972

First Meetinghouse • 1645
The first meetinghouse was built by Thomas Cooper and stood on the southeast corner of Court Square facing Meetinghouse Lane (Elm Street).
Marker detail: First Meetinghouse <i>1645</i> image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: First Meetinghouse 1645
It had a shingled roof, a rare thing in those days, and two turrets, one designed for a bell and the other for a watch house to guard against the approach of unfriendly Indians. Men and women occupied separate sections of the church.

Second Meetinghouse • 1677
The second meetinghouse was built in 1677 just west of the first one at a cost of $400. It had a turret but no bell until 1687. It was protected from attack by Indians by a five-foot rail fence, excepting at the rear where a hedge was planted. John Pynchon (William’s son) was chairman of the building committee.

Third Meetinghouse • 1752
The third meetinghouse was completed in 1752 when the village population was approximately 1,000. It stood east of the present edifice with its front on Elm Street and its primary entrance facing Main Street. The rooster crowned its spire and its clock told the time from its steeple.

Within were the customary high pulpit, ponderous sound board and square seats. Men and women were now allowed to sit together but were seated according to wealth and position.

Fourth and Present Meetinghouse • 1819
The fourth and present meetinghouse was erected by Captain Isaac Damon, a famous church and bridge builder from Northampton. The great timbers to form the foundation came down the Connecticut River from New Hampshire. Hand
Marker detail: Third Meetinghouse <i>1752</i> image. Click for full size.
3. Marker detail: Third Meetinghouse 1752
hewn from immense white pines, the likes of which cannot be found anywhere in New England today.

On August 19, 1819 the church was dedicated, with an overflow crowd reported in The Federalist and Journal to be more than 3,000 people. The population of the town at that time was not quite 4,000.

Here worshipped Thomas Blanchard who in 1825 drove through Main Street in the world's first automobile. Here came John Brown. Here visited Daniel Webster. Here Jenny Lind sang. Here in 1848 the body of President John Quincy Adams lay in state. Here in the heart of the city has remained the steadfastness of Old First Church.

William Pynchon • 1636
William Pynchon, the son of a country gentleman, bought shares in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629 and left Springfield in Essex, England in 1630 to sail to America. Looking to expand his fur trading business he scouted the area in 1635. He returned in 1636 to found his fur trading post, plantation, and Old First Church. Before the first meetinghouse was built, church services, town meetings, and court (over which he presided as magistrate) were all held in his house.

First Church Rooster • 1750
Tradition has it that this proud rooster, handcrafted by a noted London coppersmith, was shipped to Massachusetts along with two others — one to the First Church in Newburyport, and the
Old First Church Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 5, 2019
4. Old First Church Marker
other to South Church in Boston.

In 1750 he appeared atop of the third meetinghouse, and in 1819 atop of the present meetinghouse. He's much larger than one would think, measuring 4 feet from tail to beak, about 45 inches tall, and he is 49 pounds in weight. He is hollow — the two sides being put together with bolts and screws, and he rotates on a glass cap working over a metal pivot.

This plaque made possible through the generosity of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority’s Public Work and Tourism Grant Program.
 
Erected by Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionColonial EraSettlements & Settlers. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #06 John Quincy Adams series list.
 
Location. 42° 6.049′ N, 72° 35.349′ W. Marker is in Springfield, Massachusetts, in Hampden County. Marker can be reached from Elm Street just south of Main Street. Marker is mounted along the walkway near the northwest corner of the Old First Church. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 50 Elm Street, Springfield MA 01103, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Old First Church (a few steps from this marker); Miles Morgan
Old First Church (<i>northeast elevation</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 5, 2019
5. Old First Church (northeast elevation)
(within shouting distance of this marker); Hampden County Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); The First Meeting House (within shouting distance of this marker); Springfield Soldiers and Sailors Monument (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); United Electric Co. Building / Old "Turnverein" Building (about 400 feet away); United Electric Company Building (about 400 feet away); 95 State Street (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Springfield.
 
Regarding Old First Church. National Register of Historic Places #72000135. Also a contributing property in Springfield Court Square Historic District, NRHP #74000370. Also a Massachusetts Historical Landmark.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Old First Church
 
Also see . . .
1. Old First Church, Springfield (1819). The church’s most recent organ, built in 1958, was restored in 1997. The First Congregational Church continued to be used for services until the end of 2007, when declining membership led
Old First Church – Still active in the heart of the city image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 5, 2019
6. Old First Church – Still active in the heart of the city
to the closure of the church and the disbanding of the congregation. The city purchased the church, weathervane and organ. (Submitted on October 24, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Interior of Old First Church in Springfield, around 1915. It is the oldest church building in the city, having been completed in 1819, and it is one of the oldest buildings of any type in Springfield. Although the exterior of the church hasn’t changed much in the past 195 years, the interior has gone through some changes, as these photographs show. (Submitted on October 24, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 24, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 23, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 34 times since then and 5 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on October 24, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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Mar. 5, 2021