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First Church Congregational

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1870–1873, Abel C. Martin; 1938 tower redesign, Allen, Collens and Willis. 11 Garden St.
  • First Congregational Church (Keith Morgan)

Built for the Shepard Congregational Society, the First Church Congregational reflects changes in interpretations of Gothic architecture forty years after First Parish Church (RA2). Abel C. Martin trained under Arthur Gilman, an admirer of British Gothic Revival architect A. W. N. Pugin. Martin's design is an unusual combination of masonry that reflects the influence of the Venetian Gothic polychromy popularized by English critic John Ruskin with Romanesque architecture (seen in the windows and arcading), a frequent choice for Congregational churches at midcentury. The walls are a local slate, with the quoins, belt course, and coping of granite. Sandstone is used for the arches and collonnettes, and the roofs are banded in three colors of slate. In 1938 the spire was removed from the steeple, a major alteration that mars the proportions of the exterior; the weathercock survives from Boston's New Brick Meetinghouse (1721). The church is one of the most important remaining works by Martin.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "First Church Congregational", [Cambridge, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 341-342.

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