Because it was designed by Harvard-educated architect Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844), the First Church of Christ, Unitarian is sometimes referred to as The Bulfinch Church. It also served as the Fifth Meeting House of Lancaster at one time. The congregation's early nineteenth century pastor, Dr. Nathaniel Thayer, had been friends with Bulfinch at Harvard. The building, which was constructed by Thomas Hersey, dates to 1816, but the congregation traces its routes back to a 1653 Puritan church, the first in Central Massachusetts [1; 2]. The cornerstone was laid on July 9, 1816; 157 days later, construction was complete. The workmen and most of the materials were local, including bricks fired in the kiln of the father of horticulturalist Luther Burbank. In 1970, the church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Massachusetts Historic Site. It is one of the last remaining intact and unaltered examples of Bulfinch's work, retaining its original pews, fittings, wood stove heating, and even carpeting, and remaining an active Unitarian church today [1].


  • First Church, aka the Bulfinch Church (image from Wikimedia)
    First Church, aka the Bulfinch Church (image from Wikimedia)

Because it was designed by Harvard-educated architect Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844), the First Church of Christ, Unitarian is sometimes referred to as The Bulfinch Church. It also served as the Fifth Meeting House of Lancaster at one time. The congregation's early nineteenth century pastor, Dr. Nathaniel Thayer, had been friends with Bulfinch at Harvard. The building, which was constructed by Thomas Hersey, dates to 1816, but the congregation traces its routes back to a 1653 Puritan church, the first in Central Massachusetts [1; 2]. The cornerstone was laid on July 9, 1816; 157 days later, construction was complete. The workmen and most of the materials were local, including bricks fired in the kiln of the father of horticulturalist Luther Burbank. In 1970, the church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Massachusetts Historic Site. It is one of the last remaining intact and unaltered examples of Bulfinch's work, retaining its original pews, fittings, wood stove heating, and even carpeting, and remaining an active Unitarian church today [1].

The Bulfinch Church restoration began in 2006, by the firm of Menders, Torrey, and Spencer and the local Murray Brothers Construction, with funds from the Getty Foundation, the Massachusetts Historical Commission, and the Bulfinch Fund. The belfry, which cradles a bell made by the Paul Revere & Son foundry, was rebuilt in traditional mortise and tenon style, after it was discovered that the timbers and columnns had rotted. The cupola, weathervane, roof, and clock were also restored, and a hive of 100,000 bees were removed from the east corner of the building and relocated to a local organic bee farm. In 2010, the Bulfinch Fund began offering Preservation Matters programs, school tours, and Open House events at the church [1].

1. "Restoring a Masterpiece." The Bulfinch Fund Inc. Accessed June 15, 2016. http://thebulfinchfund.org/restore/. 2. First Church of Christ, Unitarian: A Welcoming Community of Spirit and Service since 1653. Accessed June 15, 2016. http://www.firstchurchlancasterma.org/