Shrewsbury landmark rings a comforting bell
By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – The photo of this clock-towered, steeple-topped building was taken in Shrewsbury Center at 19 Church Road. The First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury has served the town as a place of worship since 1723.
The prominent steeple and bell were added in 1807, with the chime thereafter notifying the townspeople of what time it was. The church recently initiated a Save Our Steeple Campaign in an effort to secure the sum of $200,000 to fix rotting beams and damage from water.
If a present-day resident had the ability to travel back in time to 1833, the person might be confused upon exiting the church and not seeing the Town Common. In those days, the main door faced what is now Route 140. According to Michael Perna Jr.'s book, “Images of America Shrewsbury,” in 1834, the structure was “turned to face south and was moved to the north about 50 feet to its present location.”
Rotating the building wasn's the first time the church building was changed. Per Perna's book, the first meetinghouse consisted of a single room sized at 40 feet long, 32 wide. The structure was enhanced and made bigger before it was turned. Afterward, it was enlarged again with the addition of a vestry and big hall.
Perna's account revealed that the church started out with 16 members. With the building being flipped around and augmented over the years, it looks like things “turned” out for the best. Currently, the congregation has 12 different governance committees, numerous ministries, Sunday school and adult education programs, multiple choirs, outreach activities, fellowship opportunities and more. Additionally, various community events are held within the building's expanded walls.
*Information for this article not cited otherwise, was gleaned from information made available on the First Congregational Church of Shrewsbury's website.
Of Historical Note is a monthly segment of the Community Advocate that features a hidden or well-known landmark from one of our newspaper's six communities.
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