The Mendon Unitarian Church -- 1820
The majestic beauty and grandeur of the Fifth Meeting House reflected the prosperity and prominence
of Mendon's 1820 village center. The building it replaced had been located at the corner of Blackstone
Street and Providence Road, just north of Old Cemetery. It had become unsightly and in need of
repair. It had served a noble purpose during the American Revolution, but by 1819, after separation of
church and state, it was necessary to have a new building in which to conduct religious services. The
new house of worship, located at 13 Maple Street, was a symbol of architectural elegance, and it
represented the wealth and social status of its 1820 congregation.
The parishioners of the new church were an unusually talented group of people. Several were
graduates of Harvard and Brown Universities. Many had achieved a high level of professional and
political status. Their wealth was evident, as forty-three subscriptions were raised to pay for the
building just three weeks after the first planning meeting was held. The building committee included a
distinguished group: Congressman Jonathan Russell, former ambassador to France, England (War
of 1812), Sweden, and Norway; Attorney Seth Hastings, bank president, superior court justice, and
former congressman; Attorney Richard George; Attorney Caleb Hayward; Attorney William Soden
Hastings; Attorney Caleb Allen; Seth Davenport Jr.; Amariah Taft; Elijah Taft; and Enos Taft. These
people were highly respected and devoted to their church and town.
The planning and construction went smoothly and quickly. The committee hired Elias Carter to design
a plan. He was regarded as the most skilled architect in the region. Peter Holbrook, a former
apprentice of Paul Revere, created the bell. Seth Hastings provided an acre of land on Maple Street for
the new location. Within a year, the new Unitarian Church was completed. It had a five tier steeple,
which rose one hundred thirty feet above the ground. It was dedicated on November 30, 1820, with
Reverend Simeon Doggett continuing as pastor. Click here to see the plans.
Historian Wendell Williams described 1820 Mendon as "a community of extremely well-to-do citizens.
They compared most favorably with those of any town in the county in refinement, intelligence, wealth,
and social standing." The elegant and stately church was a reflection of its parishioners. Today, it is
an architectural treasure. Its spire continues to be a skyline landmark, which can be seen from great
distances. It is the focal point which characterizes our historic New England village. The church is a
gift to our generation from our forefathers of long ago. It is a reminder of a special time in our history.
Richard Grady - 2011
Church history at UU site The Church Bell Mendon Menu
hall was authorized and built around 1968 includes a kitchen, large function room, modern bathrooms
on the second or top floor and recreation plus meeting or spare rooms on the first (basement floor).
An entryway at the level of the church gives access to both floors via stairways, similar to the design of
a split-level home. There is also an elevator which connects to both floors. The building of this hall,
named Goss Hall (for Carlton Goss the builder) is illustrated in photographs from Doug Taylor, one of
the carpenters at the job site.