Early History

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 settled 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, and State Treasurer. His daughter, Mary Jane, married the first settled minister of the church, and his step-daughter, Ellen Tucker Emerson, was the first wife of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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

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 Colonel William Kent, bordered by State, Capitol and 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 freedom 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…”


1829-44Moses G. Thomas1936-41Irving Stultz
1844-47William P. Tilden1940-42George Reed (interim)
1849-53Augustus Woodbury1942-48Frank O. Holmes
1854-57Artemus B. Muzzey1948-56John Ruskin Clark
1857-61Silas Farrington1956-57George A. Mark
1861-63Liberty Billings (interim)1958-63Eugene B. Navias
1864-66Junius L. Hatch1963Milton McGorrill (interim)
1866-75Joseph F. Lovering1963-69Paul Hamilton Beattie
1877W. G. Todd1969-79Edward Allison Cahill
1878-85Samuel C. Beane1979Irving Stultz (interim)
1886-92John Bradley Gilman1979-82Robert Lloyd Schaibly
1892-99Frank L. Phalen1982-83Jean McKnight Rickard (interim)
1900-09Louis H. Buchshorn1983-87Judith Ellen Meyer
1909-12Sidney Bruce Snow1987-88Ronald D. Marcy (interim)
1912-17Charles Wing1988-89Glen W. Snowden (interim)
1917-18Howard Rees Williams1989-97Charles Joseph Stephens
1918Rees Williams1997-99Joan Kahn-Schneider (interim)
1919-23George F. Patterson1999-2008Marcel P. Duhamel
1924-33Earl Clement Davis2008-10Olivia Holmes (interim)
1934-35Dana McLean Greeley2010-Michael Leuchtenberger
2016-Lyn Marshall