Whitney Web Page - Southbridge History & More
The Universalist Church Building
368 Main Street


Dec 2008




Worcester Telegram 27-Oct-06 Article

Photo and text below submitted by Margaret Morrissey

"The Universalist Church building was erected on its present site, at the corner of Hamilton and Main streets, in 1842.
It will seat an audience of about four hundred.  In 1865 the interior of the building was frescoed, and a fine organ purchased.
In 1870 the vestry was finished into several rooms, and furnished for the society's use.
Again, in 1884 the building was thoroughly ermodeled at large expense, and newly furnished.
At the left, Main street extends with fine residences on either side.
At the right, with a partial view of Whitford's block, is the beginning of Hamilton street."

from Southbridge: Illustrated with Pen and Camera by Charles W. Eddy, Ware, Mass. published in 1886.
 

Then and Now - Universalist Church
 


October 24th, 2006
A much needed facelift begins.


Oct 27th above, Nov 1 below

 

The Book Corner entrance was the door above. The ad below was from the 1966 Booklet Celebratings Southbridge's 150th!


 

Once listed as one of the top 10 endangered Historic Building in Mass.
Click here for 2001 article supplied by Margaret Morrisey - Jacob Edwards Library

According to the Southbridge Historical Album 1816-1966 Sesquincentennial p. 101:
“The Universalists, one of our town’s founding sects, ceased activity and sold their building for commercial use in 1965.”
- Margaret Morrisey, Jacob Edwards Library
 

The Evening News September 30, 1978
A Walk Through The Centre Village in Southbridge
By Members of the Southbridge Historical Commission
with Architectural Comments by
John O. Curtis, Director Curatorial Department, Old Sturbridge Village

At the corner of Main Street is the building of the former Universalist Church.

When the poll parish was established in 1801, members of four denominations were involved: Baptist, Congregationalist, Methodist and Universalist.  Of these, only the Congregationalists set up a formal organization in 1801, though all four groups took turns in supplying preaching.  The Baptists first organized in 1816.  The Methodists did not do so until 1832, and the Universalists waited until 1838.

The Universalists bought the church lot of Michael Ryan in 1841 and the church was put up in 1842.  It originally had a steeple, which was lost in the 1938 Hurricane. Fig. 7 shows the building as it appeared about 1880. An addition to the rear was made some time later.

This is a very simple, relatively unembellished Greek Revival church, raised on a full basement.  The present truncated tower, rebuilt after loss of the steeple.  Although it is not the original steeple, it is not inappropriate, since many simple Greek Revival churches have such towers.  The weathervane may have been salvaged from the steeple; the picture of Fig. 6 shows a similar vane, though it may not be easily visible in the newspaper reproduction.

The church organization disbanded several years ago, and the building was altered for commercial purposes.  The basement had been put to such use many years before: J.J. Oakes, who had been burned out in the great fire of 1863, kept his store here for several years.  Such use of church basements and first floors seems to have been fairly common in New England.”

Transcribed by Margaret Morrissey - Adult Service Librarian
January 25, 2007

Geoff Tait photos from his perch are shown above and below


 


Oct 2006


March 29, 2007

 My Top Ten List about why I am optimistic about the town and its future.

SEN Article - Dec 4, 2008

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