First Parish Church


The First Church of Cambridge was run by Puritans. They were not the liveliest bunch, and might nail your ears to the stocks if they caught you dancing in public. The fine for celebrating Christmas (taking the day off work), was 5 shillings. It was an interesting time.

Unitarianism was on the rise starting around 1805, and the tolerant First Church tolerated them until they became popular. In a bit of an upheaval, minister Abiel Holmes split off to reside further up the common as the newly formed Shepard Congregationalist Society. The First Parish Church, now Unitarian Universalist, lays claim to the more historic location where the congregation has met since the very first meeting house was built near Winthrop Park. They are both still “First Church of Cambridge,” and that is what counts for PR.

The current building dates to 1833, after the split, and is either the fifth location of the congregation, or the first, depending on how you’re counting.

It’s pretty old, either way.

Cambridge Historical Tours Recommends:

Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War
by David Herbert Donald

The Pulitzer Prize winning story of the life of the man whose statue sits in the middle of Harvard Square.

Buy at Harvard Book Store>>