pp. 253 - 283.
The First Baptist Church is said to be the oldest Baptist organization in America. There has been some controversy in regard to this priority of church organization, the Newport church claiming an earlier establishment; and much has been written upon both sides of this interesting and somewhat complicated subject. According to Governor Winthrop, who is undoubtedly as impartial authority upon the general history of the early settlement and the establishment of the religious and political government of the Providence and Rhode Island Colonies as any of the early writers, we find that this church was founded in 1639, with twelve members. Roger Williams held the pastoral charge of the church for four years, and Mr. Holyman was chosen assistant. Their first meetings were held in a grove, except in wet and stormy weather, when they were held in private houses. The first meeting-house was built by Rev. Pardon Tillinghast, at his own expense, in the year 1670. This was situated on the west side of North Main Street, nearly opposite Star Street. Their second house was built in 1726, on a lot next south of the first house. Their present house was begun in 1774, and was completed and appropriately dedicated in 1775. It cost about $35,000, and is a fine specimen of the architecture of the times. Previous to 1834, a sounding-board hung over the pulpit, and square pews occupied the place of the modern slips. The first charter of incorporation was obtained in 1774, under the name of the 'Charitable Baptist Society'. This society has flourished in spiritual and temporal things, and the Baptist denomination still leads in numbers in the city of Providence.
The successors of Roger Williams and Mr. Holyman in the ministry, have been Revs. Chad. Brown, William Wickenden, Gregory Dexter, Thomas Olney, Pardon Tillinghast, Ebenezer Jenckes, James Brown, Samuel Winsor, James Manning, Jonathan Maxcy, Stephen Gano, Robert E. Pattinson, William Hauge, J. N. Granger, W. C. Richards, Dr. Francis Wayland, S. L. Caldwell, and the present pastor, Rev. Edward Glenn Taylor, who was chosen pastor Dec. 10, 1874, and entered upon his pastoral duties April 18, 1875.
Among the agencies employed by the church are the Sunday and sewing schools, and various charitable societies. The Sunday school was begun Sunday May 30, 1819, with about forty scholars and fifteen teachers. After fifty years, the superintendent says: 'So far as can be ascertained, there have been about four hundred and fifty teaches in the school since its formation, and of scholars, upwards of three thousand. The average attendance of the school since 1830, has been two hundred and thirty. Since 1830, there has been two hundred and eighty-five additions to the church, from the school by baptism, up to the present writing, -- 1877. The sewing-school was organized Dec. 8, 1860, and has had as many as two thousand pupils since that time.'
The Mite Society, composed of women, was organized Nov. 11, 1806, and is the oldest missionary society in the State. It was indeed the parent of the Rhode Island Baptist State Convention, having sustained, for thirteen years several missionaries, and, on the organization of the Convention, turned them over to its care. Its contributions, during a period of seventy years, have amounted to about $7,000. The Female Charitable Society was organized April 9, 1820, for the purpose of assisting indigent members of the church, and for religious visitation in the parish.
The Woman's Missionary Society was formed in 1827. The Young Ladies' Missionary Association was organized June 9, 1866. The Ladies' Educational Society, for the aid of students for the Christian ministry, was formed in 1830, and counts among its beneficiaries some of the most honored ministers in the denomination.
This church has lived and grown through nearly two centuries and a half, and its history is replete with interest, not only in its record as a church organization, but the noble efforts put forth by its associations and individual endeavor.
Broadway Baptist Church was organized in 1865, with ten members. Its house of worship is located on Broadway, corner of Valley Street. The Rev. H. S. Inman was the first pastor. The church building was erected in 1867, at a cost of about $28,000. The present membership is one hundred and fifty-four. Present pastor, Rev. B. S. Morse.
Central Baptist Church is located on High, corner of Burrill street. This society was organized in 1805, with the Rev. Mr. Cornell as its first pastor. The first services of this society were held in the Richmond Street Congregational Church. In July, 1806, public services were changed to the 'old town-house'. In March, 1807, the church purchased a lot of land on Pine Street, and a house of worship was immediately erected, and dedicated in June, 1807. It was subsequently destroyed by the flood of Sept. 23, 1815. It was, however, replaced by a new structure, costing $10,000, and was dedicated Nov. 14, 1816. Present membership is five hundred and twenty-eight. The present pastor is W. F. Brainbridge, who entered upon his pastoral duties in January, 1869.
Congdon Street Baptist Church. In 1819, a church, for the use of the colored people, was erected on Meeting Street, but belonged to no particular denomination. The first paid pastor was Mr. Asa Gouldsbury. In 1837, the church was organized as a Freewill Baptist church, and, in 1840, the present Calvin Baptist Church was organized. In 1874, the property on Meeting Street was sold, and the society had no regular place of worship until 1875, when the present church on Congdon Street was finished at a cost of $16,000. Present membership about eighty.
Cranston Street Baptist Church. This society was gathered and organized under the supervision of the pastor, Rev. M. H. Bixby in the year 1870. Sept. 24, 1869, Mr. Bixby purchased the land now owned by the society, and on which the church now stands, paying six hundred dollars down, and giving his personal notes for four thousand dollars. Ground was broken for the erection of the chapel on the 1st of October. Within three months the work was completed, and the house was dedicated December 31, 1869. The money used in building was raised by Mr. Bixby among personal friends, and the friends of religion in the city. The responsibility rested upon Mr. Bixby, and if any mistakes were made, they were his, as were also the plans, if wisely laid. The chapel was opened the first Sunday in January, 1870. In May, of the same year, the legislature passed an act incorporating the Cranston Street Baptist Society, and an organization was effected, under the charter, in July. In October, the church was organized with fifty-six members. From the beginning, the church has enjoyed a remarkable degree of prosperity. God has crowned every department of its work with abundant blessing. Twice the house of worship has been enlarged. The whole number of members received to January, 1878, was four hundred. The Sabbath school was organized in 1870, with thirty-five members. Present membership, nine hundred and seven.
Fourth Baptist Church is located on Scott, corner of Beacon Street. The society was organized in 1820, with twenty-five members. The first pastor was Rev. Mr. Tobey. The church edifice, a beautiful wooden structure, was erected during the year of 1820. The present membership is about three hundred, and present pastor, the Rev. W. W. Everts, who entered upon his pastoral labors, July 1, 1877.
Friendship Street Baptist Church is located at the corner of Friendship and Prince streets. The society was organized Dec. 28, 1854. The original members numbered ninety. Seven were formerly connected with the Fifth Baptist Church, and the South Baptist Church of the city, both of which disbanded with a view of forming another church. Rev. A. H. Stowell was the first pastor, and was installed June 4, 1855. Rev. E. P. Farnhum [sic] is the present incumbent.
Jefferson Street Baptist Church is located on Jefferson, corner of Common Street. The society was organized in 1847, with the Rev. Samuel Richards as its first pastor. There were twenty-five original members. The first church edifice was erected at the corner of Davis and Common streets, and was dedicated on Thursday evening, Nov. 5, 1846. In 1856, the present chapel was found to be too small, and a new lot was purchased where the present church stands. The house was removed to its present site, and enlarged at a cost of $1,300. It was re-opened on Feb. 12, 1857. When the church was first organized, it was known as the 'Eighth Baptist Church of Providence', which name was changed in 1857, upon the removal to the new location. Present membership is one hundred and eighty-seven. Present pastor, N. B. Randall.
Roger William Chapel, Wanskuck. This mission was organized in 1865, under the general superintendence of Rev. Francis Smith. The chapel was dedicated in 1867. In 1877, the society was recognized as a regular Baptist church, and was under the care of the Rev. P. S. Colwell. The society has a membership of seventy-one, and a Sabbath school of three hundred scholars. Rev. F. Denison is the present pastor.
South Baptist Church is located on Potter's Avenue. The society was organized in 1860, with Rev. E. K. Fuller as pastor. The present incumbent is Rev. G. W. Bixby.
The Stewart Street Baptist Church is located at the corner of Pond Street. The society was organized Feb. 3, 1851, under the name of the High Street Baptist Church. Rev. George R. Darrow was the first pastor. In March, 1852, ground was broken for the erection of a church edifice, which was completed and dedicated March 11, 1853. On the 23d of September following, the church was received into the Providence Baptist Association, the High Street Baptist Society having, by legislative enactment, had its name changed to Stewart Street Baptist Society. Rev. E. A. Woods is the present pastor.
The Union Baptist Church. This society was organized in February, 1878, by the union of the Third Baptist and Brown Street Baptist churches. The Third Baptist Church was organized in 1820, and consisted of fourteen members. Rev. Allen Brown was the first pastor, and entered upon his duties in December, 1821. Their first church was dedicated June 29, 1822, and was located on the corner of Hope and Wickenden streets. Their present church building is located on the corner of John and East streets, and was erected in 1876 at a cost of $50,000. This church is the one now used by the Union Society. The Brown Street Baptist Society was organized on the 13th of November, 1855, with one hundred and eleven members. The corner-stone of their church edifice, on the corner of Brown and Benevolent streets, was laid in 1858, and the building completed and dedicated in June, 1860. This church is now to be sold, and the funds invested for the benefit of the Union Church.
Greenwich Street Baptist Church. This society was organized Aug. 15, 1870, with thirty-five members. Its first pastor, the Rev. Jason Mariner, began his labors Oct. 1, 1870. The house which it now occupies was dedicated with appropriate services, July 15, 1871. Its present pastor, the Rev. C. A. Bickford, began his labors Oct. 1, 1875.
Second Free Baptist Church is located on Pond Street. The society was organized in 1834, and the first services were held in the church on Meeting Street. In 1837, some fifteen members withdrew, and organized a new society, and erected a church, which was dedicated in September, 1841. The corner-stone of their present church was laid Sept. 28, 1871, and the house was completed and dedicated with appropriate ceremonies in May, 1872. The value of the church property is about $13,000. The present membership is seventy-five, and the Rev. C. J. Plummer is the present pastor.
Park Street Free Baptist Church is located at the corner of Park and Jewett streets. The society was organized as the Third Freewill Baptist Church of Providence, in 1851. It was then composed of twelve members. In November, 1868, the present beautiful and commodious house of worship was dedicated. Its first pastor was the Rev. William Archer. The present pastor commenced his labors in March, 1875. The present membership is about one hundred. Its growth has been slow, but its mission has been one of usefulness.
Roger Williams Free Baptist Church is located on High, corner of Knight Street. This society was organized, March 22, 1829, with thirteen members, at the house of Peter Boss, on the southeast corner of High and Hammond streets. In 1833, a house of worship was erected on Burgess Street, at a cost of $12,000. This society was organized as a Six-Principle Baptist, but was dismissed from the Conference, Oct. 31, 1835, for using instrumental music in their service. In May, 1837, they joined the Association of Freewill Baptists. In January, 1855, the church was destroyed by fire, and during the same year, the society erected its present building, at a cost of $25,000. The church contains one hundred and fifty pews, and has a seating capacity for seven hundred and fifty persons. The present membership is about four hundred and fifty, and present pastor is Rev. A. J. Kirkland.
First Congregational Church is located at the corner of Benevolent and Benefit streets. This society was organized about the year 1722. It was the third society of the Congregational order formed in the State. The two preceding it were both in Newport. The church or meeting-house was erected in 1823, and stood on the lot at the corner of College and Benefit streets, now occupied by the new court-house. In 1795, a second house was built upon the site of the present one, and was subsequently destroyed by fire. The present house was erected at a cost of $50,000. Since the organization, the pastors have been Revs. Josiah Cotton, John Bass, David L. Rowland, Enos Hitchcock, Henry Edes, Arthur M. Knapp, and C. A. Staples, the present incumbent. Although retaining its original name, Congregational, and the same order of church government, it holds the Christian faith as understood and preached by the Unitarians.
Church of the Ministry at Large is located on Olney Street, opposite Pratt. The church edifice was commenced in 1870, and finished in 1871. It was built by the united efforts of the First and Second Congregational Unitarian churches. Rev. E. M. Stone, the first pastor, was succeeded by Rev. Alfred Manchester, in January, 1878. The present membership is one hundred and twenty.
The Westminster Congregational Society was organized in January, 1828. The society first met for public worship in the old tin-top meeting-house on Richmond Street. In 1829, a meeting-house was erected, at an expense of $35,000, and located on the west side of Mathewson Street. The funds were raised by subscription and sale of pews. Frederick A. Farley was the first pastor. The church is strictly independent, and the Rev. Augustus Woodbury is the present pastor.
The Beneficent Congregational Church. This society was first organized, in 1743, by the withdrawal of some twenty or thirty members of the first Congregational churches, who began to hold meetings by themselves, under the spiritual guidance of Joseph Snow, Jr. It was not, however, until 1847, that Mr. Snow was regularly installed as pastor. A house of worship was erected upon the site of the present church edifice, in 1750, it being the generous gift of Daniel Abbott. From this feeble beginning has grown one of the largest and most powerful church societies in Rhode Island. It has numbered upon its church record since its organization, a membership of two thousand one hundred and thirty-two. Rev. James G. Vose, the present pastor, was installed Jan. 11, 1866.
Central Congregational Church is located on Benefit, near College Street, and was organized March 10, 1852. Rev. Leonard Swain, D. D., was first pastor. The Rev. George Harris succeeded him, and was installed Feb. 20, 1872, and is the present incumbent. Present membership, five hundred.
Charles Street Congregational Church is located on Charles Street, near railroad crossing. This enterprise was started in September, 1856, as a Mission Sabbath school. After two or three years of earnest labor, and more than anticipated success, it was deemed advisable to provide preaching a part of the Sabbath. Ministers from the different churches supplied the pulpit; also students from Brown University. The chapel was enlarged in the year 1860 to seat two hundred and fifty persons. The church was organized in 1865, with forty members, and one hundred scholars in the Sabbath school. Rev. George Huntington as acting pastor. The church has a record of prosperity rivalled by no church in the city. Rev. A. T. Keith is acting pastor, with a membership of one hundred and five. The church, at present, is free from debt.
Elmwood Congregational Church was organized May 14, 1851, with a membership of ten, all of which, with but one exception, came from other churches. The present membership is about two hundred. Its pastors have been Revs. William H. Wilcox, Reuben Torrey, William A. Mowry, James P. Root, Henry A. Wales, Jeremiah Taylor, and G. F. Humphries, the present incumbent.
Free Evangelical Congregational Church. This society was organized May 24, 1843, with fifty-nine members from the Richmond Street Beneficent and High Street Congregational churches, who deemed the formation of another Congregational Church a public necessity, upon the east side of the river. Rev. Thomas T. Waterman, formerly pastor of the Richmond Street Church was called to be its pastor. Westminster Hall was at once secured for public services, which was retained for some nine years. This church has now no permanent pastor.
Plymouth Congregational Church was organized March 6, 1878. The house of worship was built in 1869, and was located on Colwell Street, and was removed to its present site on Prairie Avenue in 1875. The edifice was built at a cost of three thousand five hundred dollars, and has a seating capacity of four hundred. The first pastor was Rev. Mr. Huddy, and was succeeded by the Rev. W. S. Emery. The first settled pastor under a re-organization was the Rev. W. O. Sweet, -- the church being then known as the 'Prairie Avenue Christian Church'. In October, 1877, the church withdrew from the association, and, in March following, formed an organization under the name of the Plymouth Congregational Church. The present membership is about thirty.
The Pilgrim Congregational Church is located on Harrison, near High Street. The society was organized June 2, 1869, with eighty-one members. The church was erected in 1866-67, and was dedicated Feb. 6, 1867. The present pastor was installed Nov. 24, 1869. The present membership is one hundred and twenty-five.
The Union Congregational Church. In 1791, Rev. James Wilson came to Providence, and was engaged by the Beneficent Congregational Church as an assistant to Mr. Snow. The doctrinal views held and preached by Mr. Wilson, were, however, very unsatisfactory to Mr. Snow, and many of that church. On the 16th of October, 1793, when Mr. Wilson was installed assistant, Mr. Snow, and numerous members, withdrew. Mr. Snow preached in his own house until a church edifice was erected on the corner of Richmond and Pine streets. On March 31, 1808, the church took the name of ---
The Pacific Congregational Church. Rev. Willard Preston was settled as pastor in 1816. During his ministry difficulties arose in the church which resulted in the secession of sixteen members who formed a church March 2, 1821, under the name of the Calvinist Congregational Church. August 25, 1825, the two churches were reunited under the name of the Union Congregational Church. May 8, 1827, the name of the church was changed to the Richmond Street Congregational Church. October 13, 1851, the church was destroyed by fire, and a new house was built, and dedicated June 1, 1853.
The High Street Church was formed Dec. 18, 1834, with forty-one members, mostly from the Richmond Street and Beneficent churches. The proposal to unite the Richmond and High Street churches arose, and a plan of union was adopted by both churches in August, 1868. The corner-stone of the house of worship on Broad Street was laid June 27, 1872. The church, at its organization on the 31st of March, 1871, consisted of five hundred and eighty-one members. Rev. A. J. F. Behrends, D. D., the present pastor, was installed March 15, 1876.
St. John's Church. The Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Pars, sent Mr. Honeyman, in 1794, as missionary from England, to Newport, and he occasionally preached in Providence. In 1722, he secured funds to build a church, the chief contributor being Colonel Joseph Whipple. This church occupied the same site on which St. John's Church now stands.
In 1810, the house was torn down and the present substantial stone structure was built. This church was first called 'King's Church', in honor of King George. In 1794, the name was changed to St. John's Church. Dr. McSparran also claims to have been the first Episcopal clergyman that preached in Providence. The firs permanent missionary was George Pigot, who was settled over this church in 1723. The present rector is Rev. Charles A. L. Richards, who entered upon his pastoral duties in 1869. The present membership is about one hundred.
Church of the Messiah. The services which led to the organization of this society were held in the Valley Street Congregational Church. Daniel L. B. Goodwin opened the services in May, 1854. In 1855, B. B. Babbitt was appointed as missionary. On the 27th of July, 1855, the foundation of the new church was laid, on the lot at the corner of High and Valley streets. The first services were held Oct. 14, the bishop being present. Rev. Delancy G. Rice is the present pastor.
The Church of the Redeemer is located on North Main, corner of Riley Street. This society was organized in 1859, and the church edifice was erected the same year and chartered as a free church, the only one of the kind at that time in the State. The present rector, Mr. Charles H. Wheeler, has been connected with the society since its organization.
The Church of the Saviour is located on Benefit, corner of Transit Street. This society was organized in 1862. Services were held in the Power Street Methodist Church until the presentation to the society of the old St. Stephen's Church, by Mrs. Francis J. Vinton. The first rector was L. C. Manchester. Present rector is John C. Hewlett. The present membership is 125.
Church of the Epiphany, is located on Elmwood Street. Services were commenced in Elmwood in the spring of 1868, in the Swedenborgian Chapel. Feb. 27, 1870, the congregation moved into the town clerk's office, at the corner of the same streets. During the four years from 1872 to 1876, a corporation was formed under the name of 'The Corporation of the Church of the Epiphany'.
In the fall of 1875, the parish decided upon calling a rector, and the Rev. Charles L. Newbold preached to the society in 1876, and was subsequently installed as regular pastor. The parish was admitted into the union at the annual convention of the Diocese held in St. Stephen's Church, June 13 and 14, 1876. The present membership is sixty-two.
Christ Church is located on Eddy, corner of Square Street. This society was organized in 1864, and received a charter in 1865. The church edifice was erected in the summer of 1866, and was opened in December following. Rev. Samuel H. Webb is the present pastor. Present membership is 130.
Grace Church was organized in May, 1829. The society first met for worship in the old Congregational meeting-house at the corner of Pine and Richmond streets. Their first services were held in May, 1829, and the first sermon was preached by Rt. Rev. A. V. Griswold, then bishop of the Eastern Diocese. May 26, 1829, the name of Grace Church was adopted, and their charter was granted at the June session of the General Assembly. The first rector was Rev. Samuel Fuller, Jr. In 1832, the society purchased the Providence Theatre, on Mathewson Street, and converted it into a place of worship. The church now occupied by the society was dedicated June 2, 1846. The cost of the church was about $60,000. The present rector is Rev. David H. Green.
All Saints Memorial is located corner of High and Stewart streets. The first church occupied by this society stood on the site now occupied by the gasometer on Hospital Street, and was erected in 1864. It was then called St. Andrew's Church. Their present membership is 350, and present pastor the Rev. Dr. Daniel Henshaw.
St. Gabriel's Church is located at no. 10 Carroll Street. This society was organized and church erected in 1875. The present membership is eighty. The first rector was Rev. James W. Cowell, who was succeeded in 1878 by the present pastor, the Rev. J. C. Brooks.
St. James Church is located on Gesler, below Courtland Street. The first services of this society were held on the 27th day of April, 1867. There was no settled pastor until July 5, 1868, when the present pastor, W. D. M. Sherman, took charge of the society. The present church was dedicated on Christmas Day, 1868. This is a mission church, and numbers a membership of one hundred.
St. Thomas's Church is located on Douglass [sic] Avenue. The church was built in 1873, and opened for service July 4, 1873, with the Rev. C. H. Wheeler as pastor. Present membership is about twenty-five.
Methodist Episcopal Church. The first Methodist preacher to visit Providence was Rev. Freeborn Garrettson, a native of Maryland, born Aug. 15, 1752. The second preacher was Rev. Jesse Lee, who visited Providence in 1790. Mr. Asbury, superintendent of the Methodists in America, preached in Providence in June, 1791. In 1792, Providence appears on the minutes for the first time, with Lemuel Smith as preacher, and Jesse Lee, presiding elder. There were in all New England, at that time, but four circuits, and one hundred and sixty-seven members. In 1793, Providence was connected with the Greenwich Circuit. In 1798, Providence appears for the first time on the minutes as a station, with Rev. Joshua Hall, preacher, and George Pickering, presiding elder. The first house of worship was located on Aborn Street, but was subsequently replaced by a new house, on the corner of Chestnut and Clifford streets. The New England Conference was held in this church in 1822, and Bishop George conducted the services. in 1877, the membership was three hundred and ten.
Power Street Church, now called Hope Street Church, was established in the latter part of the year 1832. A number of enterprising members united in an effort which resulted in the erection of the Power Street Church. The corner-stone of the edifice was laid in July, 1833, and the house was completed and dedicated Jan. 1, 1834. The present membership is two hundred and thirty-five.
Mathewson Street Church. During the year 1848, this church was organized as the Third Methodist Church in Providence. Sunday, Oct. 1, 1848, this congregation assembled for the first time, in the old Hoppin Hall, No. 33 Westminster Street. May 28, 1851, the new church was dedicated, and the Rev. D. Patten was chosen pastor.
Broadway Methodist Church. In the month of April, 1850, a Sunday school was organized, with William K. Thurber as superintendent, in an old meeting-house on the corner of the Dean and Federal streets. Services were held regularly each Sabbath evening, by the pastors of Chestnut, Power, and Mathewson Street churches, until it seemed necessary to have a regular pastor. The first board meeting was held April 28, 1851. In 1855, the society hired the Wesleyan Methodist Church, corner of Fountain and Franklin streets, and changed the name of the society from Federal Street Mission to the Fourth Methodist Episcopal Church. The first services in this church were held Sunday, April 22, 1855. In July, of the same year, the society purchased the property, and in 1859 another lot was purchased on Broadway, and the house removed. A new front was added, and other improvements, so that the house presented all the appearance of a new church. Since their removal to Broadway they have prospered, and the society is now in a flourishing condition, the number of members being about two hundred.
St. Paul's Methodist Church is located on Swan, corner of Plane Street, in South Providence. It was organized in 1856, as a mission, with Jonathan Cady as the first preacher. Nov. 30, of the same year, the first quarterly conference was held. The church edifice was erected in 1870 and '71. Present membership about one hundred and forty.
Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church is located on Broad, corner of Bridgham Street. This church was organized in Lester Hall, the 24th of April, 1859, with thirty-four members and one probationer. The first quarterly conference was held May 5, 1859. The corner-stone of this house was laid June 24, 1864, which was completed and dedicated May 31, 1865. This has been one of the most earnest, laborious, and successful churches in the city of Providence. Present membership is about four hundred and seven.
The Asbury Methodist Episcopal Church. This society was organized Sunday, April 5, 1868, with twenty-six members and seven probationers. During the first three months of its existence the membership nearly doubled. Its present membership is three hundred and ten.
The African Methodist Episcopal Church. This society was incorporated June, 1839. The first meetings were held in a school-house, on Meeting Street, near where the present church now stands, which was erected in 1866. The first resident pastor of this society was Jabez P. Campbell. Present membership about three hundred.
The Second African Methodist Episcopal Church. This mission is a branch of the Meeting-street Church. The chapel which they occupy, is located on A Street, and was completed, December, 1877. Present membership, sixty.
First Universalist Society. On the 16th of February, 1821, a subscription paper was circulated, and signatures procured, for the purpose of organizing a Universalist society. Their first meetings were held at the court-house, on the 10th of April, 1821, at which time it was resolved that the society be known by the name of the First Universalist Society, in the town of Providence. An act of incorporation was obtained in October following, on the petition of fifty-three members. Rev. Fayette Mace was the first regular pastor, and entered upon his duties in April, 1822. The corner-stone of the first church erected by this society, was laid June 3, 1822, and the house was dedicated on the 20th of November, 1822. This house was built of stone, and cost upwards of $20,000.
On the evening of the 23d of May, 1825, this beautiful structure was reduced to ashes, and the society was once more without a temple in which to conduct its worship. June 4, it was voted to build a new house of worship, which was completed at an expense of upwards of $24,000, and dedicated Dec. 29, 1825. This was a handsome Roman Ionic brick building, with a handsome steeple, furnished with a good bell and clock. It was located on the site of the former church, on the corner of Westminster and Union streets. This church was sold in 1871, and the society erected a new edifice on the corner of Greene and Washington streets, which was dedicated the 20th of November, 1872. This building, including land, cost $133,000. H. I. Cushman is the present pastor.
Church of the Mediator. This church is the successor of the Second Universalist society, which was formed in 1840. In 1848, a house of worship was erected on Broad Street, and occupied April 6, of the following year. In 1868, the old church property was sold, and a new church begun on Cranston Street, which was completed and occupied in December, 1869. When the old church was sold, a new organization was formed, under the above title, and the Second Universalist Society transferred its property to the new church. This church is, therefore, virtually the Second Universalist Society, under a new name. Present membership, one hundred and eighty.
First United Presbyterian Church. This society was organized in May, 1847, with Rev. Chauncey Webster as pastor. Matthew S. McCord is the present pastor. Present membership is about two hundred and twenty-five. The property owned by this society is entirely free from debt. The church edifice is located at the corner of Broadway and Hicks streets.
First American Presbyterian Church. The first meeting held for the purpose of organizing the First American Presbyterian Church of Providence was held at the residence of John Bell, Esq., No. 14 Hospital Street, on the 12th of August , 1873. The meeting organized by electing George Edwards, Chairman, and Alex McLoud, Secretary. They resolved, that a petition be drafted and signed, asking the Presbytery of Boston to take them under its protection, and an organization be granted them as soon as possible. A committee was appointed to carry out the wish of the meeting, and to appear to Presbytery as a commission, consisting of George Edwards, W. R. Crosby, and Alex. McLoud.
On the 27th of October, the prayer of the petitioners was granted, by organizing the above-named church. Rev. Wm. McCorkle of Boston, preached the sermon. He ordained George Edwards and Alex. McLoud, as elders of the church. The church membership was nineteen; the present membership is two hundred and fifty. Rev. John T. Dixon was first pastor, installed June, 1874, who resigned June, 1877. Present incumbent, Thomas Perry. Meetings at first were held in Richmond Hall, Howard Building, until the completion of their beautiful brick church on Friendship Street, the corner-stone of which was laid by Rev. Dr. C. S. Robinson of New York, Oct. 8, 1875. The house was dedicated May 31, 1876, the sermon being preached by Rev. Dr. John Hall of New York. The cost of this beautiful brick gothic church, was $33,000. The steeple is still unfinished. The house will seat six hundred.
The society of Friends. The first appearance of Friends in New England was in 1656, when two females of this denomination arrived in Boston from Barbadoes. It is stated by tradition, that Richard Scott was the first person in Providence who adopted their principles. He first joined the Baptists, but remained with them only a short time. His wife and two daughters were also among the first members of the Friends' Society. In 1666, Thomas Burnyeate, from England, held a meeting in Providence. Their numbers increased to such an extent, that, in 1672, we find the government of the Colony in the hands of the Friends. During this year, George Fox, the founder of the sect, visited Rhode Island, and held a meeting in Providence, 'in a barn thronged with people.' A weekly meeting was established at Providence as early as March, 1701. In 1702, the project of building a meeting-house was discussed, shortly after which, a lot was secured, and a meeting-house erected between June, 1703, and July, 1704. In 1718, Providence monthly meeting was set off from Greenwich monthly meeting and consisted of Providence and Mendon meetings, which name was afterwards changed, in 1783, to Smithfield monthly meeting. In 1783, Providence monthly meeting was established, at which time there were but four meetings for worship; viz., Mendon, and what was then Upper and Lower Smithfield, and Providence. In this society were to be found many of the most prominent merchants and manufacturers of Providence.
Advent Christian Society, Hammond Street. This society was organized in 1868, by Rev. M. R. Phettiplace [sic], and held services in Lester's Hall on Cranston Street, until their church was finished, in 1871. Cost of building, $2,000. The society has a membership of seventy-five, but have now no regular pastor.
African Union Methodist Episcopal Church, Clayton Street. This society was organized, Oct. 16, 1856, with the Rev. Perry Hopkins as pastor, and worshipped in private houses until 1872, when they took possession of their present church. Present membership, thirty-two.
Allen Mission. This society was organized in 1876. Their church, located on A Street, was erected, in 1877, at a cost of $2,500. Rev. J. T. Hayslett has had charge of the church since its organization, and the society now numbers about one hundred.
Meeting Street House. The old Meeting Street House was formerly the property of the Friends, and was purchased by a gentleman, who gave it to the colored people, to be used by them as a Union house. The society was organized in 1834. In 1865, the society exchanged their house and lot, and built, the next year, a new church of brick, at a cost of $15,000, which house was dedicated Sept. 26, 1866. Present number of members, about three hundred. William J. Laws is the present pastor.
Seamen's Bethel, Wickenden Street. In August, 1841, a number of persons who felt an interest in the seamen who might have occasion to visit this port, united themselves into a society, with the design of erecting a meeting-house for their accommodation. A church was built, in which services were first held in the fall of 1841. Benjamin Taylor was the first, and H. M. Eaton the present pastor.
Mount Zion Methodist Episcopal Church, No. 76 Lilac Street. This society was organized, and a church erected, about 1862. The building is a neat wooden structure, and cost about $3,500. This society is now in a flourishing condition, with a membership of one hundred. Rev. William Birchmore is the present pastor.
New Jerusalem Church, Broad Street. A small society of this denomination was gathered in Providence, and services were held occasionally for a number of years previous to 1835, at which time this society was established as a branch of the Bridgewater church, that it might be under the same pastoral care. In 1840, they dissolved this connection, and organized a separate church. The doctrines professed by this society are called the Heavenly Doctrines of the New Jerusalem, which are taken from the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. The church now occupied by this society was dedicated in 1872. Present number of communicants, seventy-five. Present pastor, F. H. Hemperley.
Church of the Yahveh. This society was organized Jan. 1, 1850. Their first church edifice was located on Broad Street. The present house of worship, located on the corner of Pearl and Providence streets, was erected, in 1876, at a cost of $15,000, and was dedicated Jan. 2, 1878. The successive pastors have been Revs. N. Hervey, O. R. Fassett, N. Southard, L. Kimball, G. W. Burnham, and the present incumbent, P. L. Osler. Its present membership is between three and four hundred.
First Independent Methodist Church, Charles Street. This society was organized in 1874, with Rev. E. L. Bosworth as pastor. Services are held in Hedley's Block. The membership of this society is but twelve, yet the meetings are attended by an average audience of nearly three hundred. This church differs somewhat from the others of the same denomination, particularly in believing in no paid ministry, and giving each member of the society a voice in all questions of church government and business, otherwise holding to the faith and discipline of Methodism.
Zion Church, Gaspee Street. This church was organized in 1831, with the Rev. Jesse Kimball as pastor. Mr. Kimball was brought from Savannah, Ga., and was the slave of Mr. George Collins, who gave him his freedom. The building then used as a place of worship now stands, in the rear of their present church, which was erected in 1855, at a cost of $5,000. Present membership, one hundred and seventy-six. Present pastor, Nelson H. Turpin.
The first regular pastor stationed in Providence by the Catholic Church was in 1827, when the Rev. R. D. Woodley was stationed here by the Catholic Bishop of New England. In 1830, the number of Catholics in Providence was about two hundred, and their meetings were held in Mechanics' Hall. In 1834, the Catholics numbered about one thousand. In July, 1836, the foundation of the church of St. Peter and St. Paul was laid, but it was not completely sufficient for occupation until December, 1837. The whole expense of the lot, church, organ, and church furniture, was about $12,000. As early as 1813 or 1814, mass was celebrated by the Catholics in a small wooden building then standing on the north side of Sheldon Street, east from Benefit Street, and services were performed there for nearly a year. The number of parishioners now connected with this church is about five thousand. Rev. Farrel O'Reiley is the present pastor.
St. Patrick's Church, State, near Smith Street. This church was organized in 1841, and the corner-stone of the church was laid July 13, 1841, by Bishop Fenwick of Boston, assisted by eight clergymen. While their house was in progress of construction, meetings were held in Franklin Hall and Masonic Hall, under the ministrations of William Fennelly, pastor of the Catholic Church at North Providence. Dec. 25, 1841, mass was celebrated in the new church for the first time. Rev. William Wiley was the first pastor, and commenced his spiritual charge Jan. 16, 1842. The bell in this church weighs two thousand pounds, and cost $570, of which $300 was paid by Mr. Philip Allen of Providence. The church, including furniture and lot, cost $18,217.42. The first pontifical mass held in the city of Providence, was held in this church, July 3, 1842, by Bishop Hughes of New York. The present pastor, Rev. Christopher Hughes, took charge of the church Feb. 2, 1869.
St. John's Church, Atwell's Avenue. This society was organized April 8, 1870, with the Rev. John J. McCabe as pastor. Their church was commenced in May, 1870, and dedicated Sept. 19, 1875. Number of parishioners, thirty-five hundred.
St. Mary's Church, Broadway. The first St. Mary's Church was erected in 1853. In 1868, their present large and beautiful gothic structure was erected, and is built entirely of granite. The dimensions are 214 x 90 feet, with a seating capacity of fifteen hundred. The entire property here is valued at more than $300,000. This is the finest church in the diocese, and one of the finest in New England. Rev. John Quinn, D. D., was the first pastor. Rev. Robert J. Sullivan, the present incumbent, was appointed Sept. 9, 1873.
St. Joseph's Church, Hope Street. This church was erected in 1852, and opened the following year by Cardinal Bedini, Bishop O'Reilly, and Bishop Fitzpatrick. The first pastor was Rev. T. F. Hendricken, now bishop of Providence. Rev. John Bapst is the present incumbent. The school-house was built in 1877. The congregation numbers four thousand five hundred; of these, six hundred and forty-eight are children attending the Sunday School.
Church of the Immaculate Conception, West River Street. This society was organized July 4, 1857, and the church opened for divine service July 4, 1878. A large and flourishing school has been attached to this church for sixteen years. Average number of scholars, about seven hundred. The convent of the Sisters of Charity, erected about 1868, belongs to this church. E. J. Cooney was the first, and is the present pastor. Cost of church property, about $100,000.
Church of the Assumption, Potter's Avenue. This society was organized July 1, 1871. Their church, which was already completed, was dedicated when the organization took place. Rev. M. M. Clune, the present pastor, commenced his labors in June, 1871. Number of parishioners, one thousand four hundred; number of scholars connected with the school, two hundred.
St. Michael's Church, Prairie Avenue. In 1859, the Vicar-General of Hartford, Conn., Rev. William O'Reilly, purchased the Baptist meeting-house situated on the west side of Prairie Avenue. This building, after undergoing some alterations, was dedicated as a Roman Catholic Chapel. It received the name of St. Bernard, and had for its pastor the Rev. B. B. D. Colt, a native of Bristol, R. I. Father Colt presided over this parish nearly four years, when he died, deeply regretted by his people. Rev. Daniel Mullen was the second pastor, who, after seventeen months, was succeeded by the present incumbent, Rev. Dr. M. A. Wallace. At the expiration of about one year, the increase in the congregation demanded that the old edifice be sold; and in less than two years from the organization, the present brick church of St. Michael the Archangel was completed. It is a beautiful structure, one hundred and thirty-five feet long, and sixty-five feet wide. The tower is sixty feet in height, which will soon be surmounted by a steeple seventy-five feet in height. The auditorium will seat eleven hundred persons. The church is furnished with an organ that cost three thousand dollars, and is one of the finest in the city. An elegant and substantial presbytery, in close proximity with the church, has just been brought to completion by the present zealous and untiring pastor, Rev. Dr. M. A. Wallace.
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