|Our Historic Building|
In the 150 years we have occupied this meeting house, it has been a constantly changing place, expanding and evolving to meet new and changing needs of the congregation.
The town meeting house, built in 1692, was originally set on the Common. In 1713 (the year Lexington was incorporated) a new meeting house was built. This building housed small bands of militiamen and held the bodies of the dead after the Battle of Lexington on April 19, 1775. In 1794 it was torn down and replaced by a new building.
In 1846, after extensive and expensive repairs, the third meeting house burned to the ground on the night before it was to be rededicated. The congregation voted to locate the new church off the Common. Isaac Melvin was hired for $125 to plan the new building, which was to be completed for less than $8000. Pews were auctioned off to raise money for the building expenses.
Built on land obtained from Brown Harrington for the price of $1000, the new church was to consist of an auditorium (now referred to as the sanctuary), a vestibule and twenty-one horse sheds. The style is Federal neo-classical. Also included was a bell and an organ, with the organ to cost no more than $1200. The new structure was completed in 1847 and dedicated on February 23, 1848. The floor area of the sanctuary measures 67' x 52' 6". Floor to ceiling measures 27'10''. A small gallery or balcony, which housed the original organ and a choir loft, overhangs the auditorium 9' 7", extending over the vestibule by 4' 3". The steeple is 130' from ground up. In 1871 the vestry (Parish Hall), ladies' parlor, a chapel and a library were added to the north end of the church and in 1881 a supper room was voted and built downstairs. A new bell was installed (4 ft in diameter at base) in 1872. (See the bill of sale in the hall outside the History Room upstairs across from the balcony) Gas light was installed in 1875 and a furnace was installed in 1889. The church was electrified in 1896.
In 1898, the present Hutchings organ was installed behind the pulpit, obliterating a painting showing a rocky uphill path to an exploding sun. The present day pine pews were also installed and the pulpit was moved forward to make room for the choir loft. In 1908 a stage was added to the vestry, now called Parish Hall and two anterooms were built off of it. The supper room, now called Parker Hall, was remodeled with the addition of a kitchen and pantry. Improvements were made to the heating system and vestibule. A porte-cochere was added to the side entrance for protection. Total price: $12,000.
Robinson Hall, now used for nursery, was added off of Parker Hall in 1949. In 1952 the church was again expanded, with the addition of offices for the Minister, Religious Educator and secretary, and a room for the custodian. In 1968 to 1969 the sanctuary windows were switched from frosted glass with curtains to uncovered transparent glass and more storage space was created in the downstairs interior for the Clothing Exchange. A new heating system was installed in 1981 for $18,000. Another major renovation of the minister's office and the parlor occurred in 1986.The last major expansion and renovation occurred in 1989. The two anterooms and stage were removed from the Parish Hall and the back of the church expanded to make room for new offices for the secretary and Religious Educator, an elevator and a new entrance off the rear. The former offices off Parish Hall were converted to meeting space. In addition, Parker Hall was renovated, with carpeting and a new ceiling. Most recently, Staples Hall was sound proofed in 1992 (allowing it's use during worship services) and finally, in 1996, the sanctuary was renovated and the organ cleaned.
The expansion of the building was not accompanied by expansion of the land until very recently. In 1892 a small parcel of land about half the size of the rear parking lot was acquired. No more land was purchased until 1955. From then until 1971, First Parish acquired six parcels of land. We now own 2.83 acres in what is roughly a U shaped property with two frontages on Harrington Rd.