First Free Will Baptist Church: Ashland, New Hampshire

Picture of First Free Will Baptist Church on Main Street in Ashland, New Hampshire

First Free Will Baptist Church in Ashland, New Hampshire

As part of our Building History series, today we take a look at the First Free Will Baptist Church in Ashland, New Hampshire:

“The First Free Will Baptist Church in Holderness (later Ashland) village was organized in 1818 as a branch of the New Hampton Free Will Baptist church and was reorganized in 1829 as an independent church.  Although at first lacking a settled minister and a meetinghouse, the new church grew and prospered.”

“In February of 1834, the church members voted to build a brick meetinghouse on a prominent village lot.  A five man building committee was appointed, but their actions are not recorded.  We cannot name the builder or designer of the church.  On January 23, 1835, the completed building was formally dedicated.  Early views show that the church had rectangular windows and a shorter, two stage tower.  It was, in fact, a good late Federal church.”

“But, as the 19th century progressed, the building was considered old-fashioned.  Both the exterior and the interior were remodeled over a period of forty-three years, between 1872 and 1915.  In 1872, the rectangular windows were lengthened and topped by semicircular arches with hood moulds.  Stained glass replaced the original clear glass.  In 1893, a new third stage and a new concave roof were added to the tower to accommodate the town clock.  At the same time, the base and first stage were shingled and supplied with arched windows.”

“Interior renovations were more numerous, with alterations being recorded in seven different years, the most extensive changes dating from the last renovation in 1915.  The church interior was entirely remodeled in this period; and it is doubtful that any original interior elements remain.  As a result, the church is now basically Victorian in character, and appears a half century younger than it actually is.”

Source: Ashland Historical Society

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