History: First Church in Roxbury
Fifth Meetinghouse: 1804-present
By the beginning of the 19th century, the congregation had plans to build a larger and grander meetinghouse. They hired a team of carpenters who tore down the fourth building and erected the fifth in eleven months.
Much of how First Church looks today has its origins in the early 19th and early 20th centuries. The wall clock in the sanctuary is a replica of the clock the congregation bought in 1803 from Simon Willard, a prominent parishioner and well-known clockmaker (the original is on loan to the Willard House and clock Museum). The steeple bell, which weighs more than 1500 pounds, was bought in 1819 from the Revere Foundry in Canton. The organ was purchased in 1883 from the Roxbury firm of Hook & Hastings and the pulpit, modeled after the pulpit in the First Church of Lancaster, was installed in 1888. In 1913, Rev. James De Normandie dedicated the first four of the memorial plaques that hang prominently in the sanctuary. The steeple you see today was rebuilt in 1954 after a hurricane destroyed the original.
Putnam Chapel was built next to First Church In 1878. In 2003, the UU Urban Ministry sold its downtown Boston office and constructed the Education and Justice Center at First Church to serve as the headquarters for Urban Ministry activities. The new center, which physically connects First Church with Putnam Chapel, features two floors of classrooms, a full kitchen, lounge, as well as as office space for UU Urban Ministry employees.