“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Northampton in Hampshire County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)

The First Church

The First Church Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Michael Herrick, March 30, 2022
1. The First Church Marker
The Puritan settlers of Northampton built their first meeting house in 1655 on a site near the present-day Courthouse. Eleazar Mather, cousin of Boston's Cotton Mather, became the town's first minister in 1658. A new meeting house was built further up what came to be known as "Meeting House Hill" in 1661. When Mather died eight years later, Solomon Stoddard was called to take the pulpit.

Stoddard preached his first sermon in Northampton in 1669. From then until his death sixty years later in 1729, he maintained a position of influence that went far beyond the boundaries of Hampshire County. His doctrine of the "Halfway Covenant" left a lasting imprint on New England Puritanism. Stoddard's hand-picked successor to succeed him in the Northampton pulpit was none other than his grandson, Jonathan Edwards. During Edward's ministry, the third meeting house was built in 1737. It was here that the evangelist, George Whitfield, preached in 1740, sparking the Great Awakening that Edwards reported in his widely published "Faithful Narrative."

In 1812, the church that Jonathan Edwards built was replaced by a classical revival structure
The First Church Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Michael Herrick, March 30, 2022
2. The First Church Marker
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designed by Asher Benjamin and built by Northampton architect, Isaac Damon. With a seating capacity of over 1,000, the church also provided a setting for more secular occasions. It was here that Jenny Lind thrilled audiences in the 1850s. Dominating Main Street for more than half a ceritury, the "Old Church" burned to the ground in 1876.

The present church, built in 1877, is the 5th meeting house to occupy the site. Designed by the Boston architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns, its gothic revival sandstone exterior is complemented by the rich Victorian interior lit by several Tiffany windows.

Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center
46 Bridge Street, Northampton, MA 01060

( photo captions )
—   Northampton's 2nd Meeting House, c. 1661
—   The 3rd Meeting House, built in 1737
—   The "Old Church" built by Isaac Damon in 1813.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Churches & Religion. A significant historical year for this entry is 1655.
Location. 42° 19.143′ N, 72° 37.851′ W. Marker is in Northampton, Massachusetts, in Hampshire County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street (Massachusetts Route 9) and Gothic Street, on the right when traveling south on Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 129 Main Street, Northampton MA 01060, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are
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within walking distance of this marker. The Old Bank (here, next to this marker); Shop Row (here, next to this marker); Jonathan Edwards (here, next to this marker); Third Meeting House Step (a few steps from this marker); Shays' Rebellion (within shouting distance of this marker); Hampshire County (within shouting distance of this marker); Nonotuck (within shouting distance of this marker); Daley & Halligan (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Northampton.
Also see . . .  Historic Northampton Museum & Education Center. (Submitted on April 4, 2022, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.)
Credits. This page was last revised on April 4, 2022. It was originally submitted on April 4, 2022, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut. This page has been viewed 109 times since then and 31 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 4, 2022, by Michael Herrick of Southbury, Connecticut.

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Apr. 1, 2023