About Us

A Brief History

Historical Summary

April 4, 1827

Founding of the Second Congregational Society (Unitarian), as it split from First Congregational Church. The congregation continued meeting at the First Congregational Church building for two years.

June 17, 1827

First Unitarian sermon heard in Concord, preached by the Reverend Parker of Portsmouth in Representative's Hall.

Until 1829

Services were conducted by prominent Boston Unitarian leaders, including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Ware, Jr.

Feb. 25, 1829

Moses G. Thomas ordained as first minister. He was minister until 1844.

 

Early Prominent Lay People

Col. William Kent

Donor of land for the first church. Prominent citizen and businessman, member of NH Legislature, State Treasurer, step-father of Ellen Tucker Emerson.

Lewis Downing

Benefactor of Second Congregational Society, partner of J. Stephen Abbott, manufacturer of Concord State Coach, famous around the world.

William E. Chandler

Secretary of Navy, 1882-1885, United States Senator, 1887-1901

George E. Fogg

United States Senator, 1866-1867, Minister to Switzerland, 1887-1901

Onslow Stearns

Governor of State of New Hampshire, 1869-1870

Henry S. Bellows

Chief Justice of Supreme Court of New Hampshire, 1859-1873

 

The First Three Church Buildings

In 1829, on land given by Colenel William Kent, bordered by State, Capitola nd Green STreets, the first congregation built its first church, a simple wooden structure in the meeting house style, which burned to the ground as it was being fitted for gas illumination in 1854. The following year a more imposing church of granite with a tall steeple was constructed on the same site.

Fire struck again in 1889 when the adjacent high school burned and the flames leapt to the church tower, destroying the sanctuary, but sparing the parish house. A new sanctuary was built immediately, this time of brick in the Romanesque style.

The Present Church Building

Our present building was completed in 1960. The style of the building came from a charge from the congregation to the architect:

"We feel strongly that we want a church that is appropriate to our times and truly beautiful. WE want one that is sympathetic to our form of Unitarian Universalist worship and to our educational and social activities. We want a church, furthermore, that is compatible with our New Hampshire landscape and in particular with the beautiful site..." The architect was further charged to create a sanctuary that would express freedom in relation to belief and freeom within the democratic congregation. "...somehow the search for truth should be felt, perhaps in simple unconcealed building construction and honest direct use of materials.... there should be a feeling of warmth and stillness and aspiration... we do not wish to have just a traditional church with the essence removed, but to have a positive creation which expresses our faith..."

Ministers

1829-44

Moses G. Thomas

1936-41

Irving Stultz

1844-47

William P. Tilden

1940-42

George Reed (interim)

1849-53

Augustus Woodbury

1942-48

Frank O. Holmes

1854-57

Artemus B. Muzzey

1948-56

John Ruskin Clark

1857-61

Silas Farrington

1956-57

George A. Mark

1861-63

Liberty Billings (interim)

1958-63

Eugene B. Navias

1864-66

Junius L. Hatch

1963

Milton McGorrill (interim)

1866-75

Joseph F. Lovering

1963-69

Paul Hamilton Beattie

1877

W. G. Todd

1969-79

Edward Allison Cahill

1878-85

Samuel C. Beane

1979

Irving Stultz (interim)

1886-92

John Bradley Gilman

1979-82

Robert Lloyd Schaibly

1892-99

Frank L. Phalen

1982-83

Jean McKnight Rickard (interim)

1900-09

Louis H. Buchshorn

1983-87

Judith Ellen Meyer

1909-12

Sidney Bruce Snow

1987-88

Ronald D. Marcy (interim)

1912-17

Charles Wing

1988-89

Glen W. Snowden (interim)

1917-18

Howard Rees Williams

1989-97

Charles Joseph Stephens

1918

Rees Williams

1997-99

Joan Kahn-Schneider (interim)

1919-23

George F. Patterson

1999-2008

Marcel P. Duhamel

1924-33

Earl Clement Davis

2008-10

Olivia Holmes (interim)

1934-35

Dana McLean Greeley

2010-

Michael Leuchtenberger