What’s a New England Meeting House?

My town in New Hampshire was established in 1746 and in the center of town there are several original buildings.  My favorite is what was originally my town’s ‘Meeting House’. 

In colonial days, a Meeting House played a significant role in the community and was often one of the first structures built.  It was a community building where the townspeople could gather to worship or participate in town government.  Many towns had great debates over where to build the Meeting House but most often the site is a prominent location in the geographic center of town.

First Congregational Church of Williamstown, Mass (originally the Meeting House).

Church on the Hill Lenox, Ma (originally the Meeting House).

Unitarian Universalist Church Newburyport, MA (originally the Meeting House).

Congregational Church of Hollis, NH (originally the Meeting House).

The Meeting Houses were built for purpose based on the popular style of the day.  Most are designed in a Federal style, rectangular with a grand entry and single center tower topped by a belfry, clock and spire. The buildings are unadorned; most don’t have any stained glass windows or statues.  Most are painted white with clapboard exteriors.  

Whether its the historically uniqueness or picturesque styling, an image of a Meeting House (usually snow covered) is often used to depict the quaint charm of a New England village.  


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