Friends of First Parish Meetinghouse, P.O. Box 3754, Plymouth, MA 02361
Art & Architecture
The current First Parish building was dedicated on Forefathers Day, December 21, 1899, on the 279th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ landing in Plymouth.
Built to replace the previous meetinghouse, which was destroyed by fire, First Parish as it stands is a striking example of Norman Period architecture which was prevalent in Middle England churches where the Pilgrims worshipped. The church’s facade is constructed of granite quarried from Quincy, Massachusetts and sandstone from Ohio.
Designed by famed architects Hartwell & Richardon of Boston, Massachusetts, the exterior of the church was inspired by St. Helena’s of Austerfield, England where Pilgrim Governor William Bradford was baptized.
The sanctuary itself features beautiful hammer-beam construction with ornately carved woodwork flanked with forty stunning stained glass windows, eighteen of which were designed by Edward Peck Sperry of Tiffany Studios. These windows depict the Pilgrims’ embarkation from Delftshaven, Holland, the Signing of the Mayflower Compact (signed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and donated by the Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1894), and the figures of Civil and Religious Liberty that were at the heart of the Pilgrims’ struggle and survival. Read more about our stained glass windows.
Within the belfry is the Town Bell. Since the 1600s, the Town Bell, housed in each of the First Churches, has marked time for Plymouth’s residents and visitors. It was during Dr. Kendall’s ministry in 1801 that American Revolutionary Patriot Paul Revere cast the Town Bell. Ensconced in the 1744 Meetinghouse belfry, the Town Bell has remained in the tower of each meetinghouse since, despite having fallen and cracked when the 1831 structure burned.
In addition to the church's ten carrillon bells, one of which was a gift from the residents of Plymouth, England, the tower still houses the town's Paul Revere bell which was recast after the fire of 1892. The Town of Plymouth replaced the wooden wheel that suspended the bell with a steel support and an automated ringer. The Town Bell remains a symbol of liberty, resilience and tradition, and continues to chime out the morning, noon and night hours on a daily basis.
All donations to Friends of First Parish Meetinghouse are tax-deductible. We are a nonprofit charitable organization that has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service under the terms of section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.