a digital library of Unitarian Universalist biographies, history, books, and media
the digital library of Unitarian Universalism
Home » Cambridge & Harvard » The Church in Harvard Square: Architectural Evolution

The Church in Harvard Square: Architectural Evolution

Architectural Evolution

Perspective, Scheme "D" Latest Design.

“Perspective, Scheme ‘D’ Latest Design” and title page from A New Meeting-House (1900). (Title page transcription)

In the 1890s, the Parish seriously considered replacing the fifth meeting house with a new building. Authorization was given for the solicitation of funds for the purpose. But soon disagreements surfaced as to the architectural style to be adopted, and the Parish divided into a stone Gothic faction and a brick Colonial faction. Each faction employed architects to draw up plans supporting its position’ and one of the Gothic proposals is here reproduced. Since opinion was sharply divided, no choice was possible. The old vestry was torn down, however, and replaced by the present parish house, apparently on the assumption that the meeting house would eventually be redone in stone Gothic. In 1914, a decision was made to renovate the interior, but by this time, Gothic was out. The “Gothic” exterior remained until most of the ornamentation was a casualty of the hurricane of 1954. The present building, with its anomalous combination of styles, is a fascinating record of changing architectural taste.

The Meeting House in 1980.

The Meeting House in 1980.

Seating plan of The Meeting House in 1914.

Seating plan of The Meeting House in 1914.

The First Parish Meeting House (interior)

The First Parish Meeting House (interior)


Back ^ Title page from A New Meeting-House (1900)

First Parish in Cambridge

In the matter of a New Meeting-House, Address to Members of the Parish, Stone or Brick, Colonial or Gothic

Boston: Alfred Mudge & Son. Printers, No. 24 Franklin Street. 1900.

Series Navigation<< The Church in Harvard Square: The Fifth Meeting HouseThe Church in Harvard Square: Outreach To The World Community >>

Notable in UU History
Moncure Daniel Conway

Conway, Moncure Daniel (1832-1907)

The Heralds of a Liberal Faith have been from time to time reinforced by recruits from unexpected ... Read More
Lydia Maria Francis Child

Child, Lydia Maria Francis (1802-1880)

A descendant of Richard Francis who settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1636, Lydia was a humanitarian ... Read More
Von Ogden Vogt

Vogt, Von Ogden (1879-1964)

This master liturgist, who excelled at celebrating Life in the liberal tradition, was born in Altamont, ... Read More
Martin E. Marty

Marty, Martin E. (1928-)

Martin E. Marty is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor, Emeritus, at the University of ... Read More