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Brattle Street Church

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Brattle Street Church
Similar  First Baptist Church, Hollis Street Church, American House, The Puritan, First Church in Boston

The Brattle Street Church (1698-1876) was a Congregational (1698-c.1805) and Unitarian (c.1805-1876) church on Brattle Street in Boston, Massachusetts.

Brief history

In January 1698, "Thomas Brattle conveyed the land on which the meeting-house was to stand; and on the 10th of May, 1699, a formal invitation was extended to Benjamin Colman... to be its minister." To distinguish itself in contrast to Boston's three other Congregational churches, the new fourth church issued a manifesto that detailed a somewhat relaxed attitude toward rigid Calvinist practices. Thomas Brattle probably designed the unpainted, wood, meetinghouse-style building for the church, erected in 1699. The building had a "main entrance in the bell tower (while retaining a secondary entrance on the long side) and ...[a] pulpit at the opposite end ...[and] rounded or compass windows."

Through the years, ministers included: Benjamin Colman (1699-1747); William Cooper (1716-1743); Samuel Cooper (1747-1783); Peter Thacher (1785-1802); Joseph Stevens Buckminster (1805-1812); Edward Everett (1814-1815); John Gorham Palfrey (1818-1831); and Samuel Kirkland Lothrop (1834-1876). Hans Gram played organ in the late 18th century. Parishioners included John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren, John Adams, Abigail Adams, Richard Clarke, Elizabeth Greenleaf, Jane Mecom, John Lowell, Lydia Hancock, Henry Cabot Lodge, James Bowdoin (1676-1747), and many others. "Cato, favorite servant of the [John] Hancocks... received his freedom at age thirty, married, and baptized his children at the prestigious Brattle Street Church, all the while continuing to serve the town's leading family."

In 1717 and 1724, the church hosted "the first singing school in Boston." The wood church building of 1699 was replaced in 1772 with a brick structure, designed by Thomas Dawes. (John Singleton Copley had also submitted a design proposal, but Dawes' plan won.). For the new building, John Hancock "gave a thousand pounds, and a bell." Around 1778, William Billings ran a "highly praised singing school" at the church.

Henry Cabot Lodge, a parishioner in his youth, noted: "It was a fine old eighteenth-century church with a square tower, in which was embedded a cannon-ball said to have been fired and lodged there by the American batteries at the siege of Boston. The interior was in the classical style of Wren, much in vogue in the province in the days of Anne and the first Georges. A huge mahogany pulpit, the gift of John Hancock, towered up darkly in the center of what would have been called the chancel in any other than a Puritan church."

In 1872, the Brattle Street church building was demolished. Work on a new church building in Back Bay began in 1873. Designed by architect Henry Hobson Richardson, it opened in 1875, and is known as the Brattle Square Church. The church "became extinct in 1876." The church building was sold in 1882 to the First Baptist congregation.

At various times in its history, the Brattle St. Church was also known as:

  • The Brattle Square Church
  • The Brattle Street Congregational Church
  • The Brattle Street Meeting House
  • The Church and Society in Brattle Street
  • The Church in Brattle Square
  • The Manifesto Church
  • The Religious Society in Brattle Street
  • The Society in Brattle Street
  • References

    Brattle Street Church Wikipedia


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