The Chestnut Hill Meeting House has a special place in Mendon history. It has been
preserved in time as one of the oldest unaltered meeting houses in New England. It was
constructed before the Revolutionary War, and it appears today as it looked in 1769. Its
history is unique in that it is shared with Blackstone and Millville, as town boundary lines
changed in 1845 and 1916 respectively. It was built in Mendon's South Precinct for
people to worship and to attend town meetings locally, instead of having to travel to
Mendon center. The land was provided by Benoni Benson, who was the first settler in
the south section of town. The building is a significant historical treasure, a gift to our
generation from our ancestors of long ago.
The construction of the building reflects the fine craftsmanship of the time period. The
wood is hand-hewn post and beam, secured by wooden pegs. The pulpit is made from
hand-carved wood in a Georgian style. Above it is a 15 foot by 15 foot double hung
window. The round arched fan design includes eight panes of clear glass to illuminate
the pulpit. There are twenty-six box pews with doors and raised- panel walls and hand-
carved spindles and rails. Each window contains twenty-four panes of glass, some of
them original. The second floor has red oak benches. This well-built structure
exemplifies the beauty and simplicity of the pre-Revolution era.
One of the reasons for the building's excellent original condition status is that after two
brief stays by Rev. Benjamin Balch, 1768--1773, and Rev. Perserved Smith, 1805--
1812, the meeting house was locked up and used only annually for several years. By
the early 1800's, the South Precinct's population centered toward the Blackstone River
and away from the Chestnut Hill village. Many families moved closer to the river to take
advantage of occupational opportunities provided by new mills and factories. The river-
centered village would eventually be called Millville, and it offered new choices for
worship and town meetings. The old meeting house remained unaltered and used only
once a year.
On its one hundredth anniversary in 1869, a new awareness prevailed of the building's
importance in history. A group of descendants of the original Chestnut Hill settlers
organized to work together to repair and cosmetically upgrade the building. Since then,
in 1896, the Chestnut Street Meeting House and Cemetery Association was formed to
ensure its preservation and promote its history. Current officers include Lincoln Barber,
president; Margaret Carroll, vice president; Leo Gauthier, secretary; and Lois Baldiga,
treasurer. It has been partnered by the National Park Service and the Mass. Department
of Conservation and Recreation. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Membership is open to the public. Funding for the building is raised from an annual
fundraiser-Project Preserve, membership dues, donations, and rental fees. The
meeting house may be rented for meetings, weddings, funerals, and social gatherings.
All proceeds benefit the upkeep of the building and associated cemeteries.
Benoni Benson Jr. was actively involved with other Mendon residents in working with
Boston's Sons of Liberty in the days that led up to the American Revolution.
Impassioned cries for liberty in Boston were echoed at town meetings in Mendon in the
late 1760's --1770's. Most assuredly, the walls and rafters of the meeting house were
shaken with passionate pleas to break the bonds of tyranny from Great Britain. Benson
became a lieutenant in Mendon's Third Militia Company and marched to Boston after
the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The Declaration of Independence was orated
from here in July 1776. Because of its preserved architectural structure, its patriotic use,
and the time period in which it was built, it is obvious that the Chestnut Hill Meeting
House is steeped in the spirit of the American Revolution. It has a special place in our
history. It is a prized inheritance.
November 1, 2012
Chestnut Street Meeting House Association Mendon Menu
1769 CHESTNUT HILL MEETING HOUSE AND CEMETERY
Formerly a village in the Towns of Mendon and Blackstone
Benoni Benson Family Grave Sites
To the left of the gate the following burial sites are found:
1,10 William H. Benson
1.11 Sarah Benson
1.12 Edwin Benson
1.13 Horace Benson
1.14 Sarah . Benson
1.15 Marion A Webster
1.16 Horace A. Benson
The following sites are found throughout the cemetery
2.9 Charles Benson
2.10 Adeline Benson
2.11 Annarodin Benson
5.2 Benson Plot
Jared Laurette V.H.
Sally Taft Jared
Putnam S. Benoni Benson, 1806
Deacon John Benson Benoni Benson, 1761 *
* Inscription reads: First White Settler
Note: believed to be "in this area"
5.3 Leander Benson
5.4 Henry A. Benson
5.5 Henry H. Benson
5.6 Almira Benson
5.7 Seth Benson
5.12 Almira Farnum Benson
6.4 Unidentified: Possibly ____
6.5 Eliza Benson
6.6 Mellen Benson
6.7. Mary Benson
6.8 Sarah E. Benson
See Page 2
Benoni Benson Family Gravesites
Chestnut Hill Meeting House Cemetery
Millville, MA 01529
7.9 Mr. Amasa Benson
7.10 Lovina Benson
7.11 Ann Eliza Benson
10.3 Benoni Benson, 1781
19.1 Elizabeth Benson
20.1 Lovett Benson s/o John and Joanna d. 3/4/1773
20.2 Henry Benson
20.3 Rufus Benson
20.4 Henry S. Benson
20.5 Lydia Benson w/o Deacon John
20.6 Hannah Adeline Benson
20.7 Harriet Benson
20.8 George W. Benson
20.9 Allenda Warfield Benson w/o George W.
20.10 Otis Benson s/o George and Allenda
20.11 Harrison Benson
21.2 Joanna Benson (may be the first burial in the cemetery 1743 or 1745)
21.3 Deacon John Benson
21. 4 Prudence Benson widow of Benoni d. 5/11/1789 Age: 94
Note: Benson women who married are not included in this listing since their husband's
names are not known to me.
Margaret M. Carroll, Trustee
Chestnut Street Meeting House and Cemetery Association (1896)
132 Main Street, Post Office Box 291, Millville, MA 01529
Personal Data: taken from an Inventory I compiled, 1994-1998
This was done to update an original inventory done by High School Student
Leonel Clement in 1950.
Chestnut Street Meeting House and Cemetery Association
Good Day, it is a good day to come together once again just as so many others have in
the past. For over Two Hundred and Forty Three years people like you have gathered
here to pay tribute to the great nation they fought for and created.
In just seven years, from the time the Meeting House was built in 1769 to 1776, they
had established their homesteads, built this beautiful structure,fought a war, and
listened to the words of the Declaration of Independence read right here in this
building. They were very much a part of the creation of new nation, The United States of
Each generation of families came here to listen to the words of their preacher or to hear
the news of what was happening in their new nation.
They gave thanks for the growth of their village and offered their help to all those in
need. They shared their stories and their crops. They supported one another. They
lived in a peaceful community.
Today we see this Meeting House as part of the Communities of Mendon, Blackstone
and Millville. And as in the past, we welcome the people of those towns and beyond to
join with us as members of our Association.
We invite you to become part of the Meeting House Community.
Your commitment will be to attend three meetings a year, in September, May and
January. The dues are $10 annually.
You will join us as we work to meet the goals set by those original members One
Hundred and Sixteen years ago.
The object of this Association shall be the preservation and careof two ancient burial
grounds and the car eand preservation of the old Meeting House.
We renew our pledge today at our annual gathering. We celebrate with prayer and
songs of praise to the Lord and to our Nation LET THE WORK OF THE FATHERS