Congregational Church: Exeter, New Hampshire

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Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire

As part of our building history series, today we take a look at the Congregational Church in Exeter, New Hampshire:

“This, the Congregational Church’s fourth meeting-house, was begun in 1798 from designs by local builder architects Ebenezer Clifford and Bradbury Johnson. The gacade retains its original Palladian features, but the interior was radically altered in 1838 when the lofty auditorium was divided into two floors.”

Source: Exeter Historical Society

“. . . Fortunately there were two architects in town who knew a great deal about building. Actually they weren’t called architects. Ebenezer Clifford was a cabinet maker-carpenter, and Bradbury Johnson a joiner-carpenter. Together they built not only the Congregational Church but also a new main building for Phillips Exeter Academy. Much of the actual construction of the meetinghouse was done by James Folsom, also of Exeter.”

“The new church was completed in a little less than three years–1799. Now the front was on the south side, but for forty years the pulpit remained on the north. The building was massive—for those days, and still is today. It was (and still is, of course) about eighty feet across the front and sixty feet in depth. Inside there was still only one floor, the pulpit was elevated, as was customary, and balconies ran around three sides . . .”

“Our meetinghouse is of course not the only Federal-style building in Exeter. The most interesting ones are the three old houses on Front street across from the church, built between 1809 and 1826: Sleeper House, Gardner House, and the Perry-Dudley House. Unfortunately the façades of all three of these houses were changed by the addition of later-style entryways. The front of our church has never been changed.”

Source: The Congregational Church in Exeter

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