The view of Old First Church in Springfield, Massachusetts from Court Square, around 1908. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.
The same view in 2013:
Old First Church has been one of Springfield’s most prominent landmarks for nearly 200 years. It is Springfield’s fourth meeting house, all of which have been located on or around present-day Court Square. The current building was completed in 1819, and was home to the First Church of Christ until 2007, when the congregation disbanded. During that time, the church hosted notable guests including Daniel Webster, abolitionist John Brown, singer Jenny Lind, and evangelist D.L. Moody. In 1848, the body of former president John Quincy Adams lay in state in the center aisle, as he was being brought back to Quincy from Washington, D.C.
After the congregation disbanded in 2007, the City of Springfield purchased the historic building, and rent it out for various events. Note the missing railing near the top of the steeple – it was removed following damage from the June 1, 2011 tornado. Otherwise, the exterior of the building remains much the same as it was over 100 years ago. To the right, barely visible in the 2013 photo, is a brick structure that appears very different. Physically attached to the church, it was gutted and renovated in 1947, which among other things included removing most of the Victorian-era windows and details.
2014 note: the railing near the top of the steeple was restored in October 2014
4 thoughts on “Old First Church, Springfield, Mass”
I’m a descendant of the Chapins on my mothers side…a Chapin married Reverend John McKinstry..my maternal ancestor who was the first minister of the group that separated to build anew church in Chicopee. I came wita group of volunteers to help at the soup kitchen in the 1990’s. At the time I did not know of my familial connection.
Where is an authentic copy of the original Bible in English that predates the KJV? I heard it was kept in the basement of a Church in Springfield, Mass. Is that correct? What Bible version is it and where may it be researched?
Thanks, Margaret Walker
I haven’t heard of any old Bibles located here in the church. My understanding is that most of the items belonging to the congregation were either sold or donated to museums after the church closed in 2007. As for the Bible version, though, my guess is that it would probably be the Geneva Bible. This translation was several decades older than the KJV, and it was preferred by the Puritans who settled in New England, probably because most of them were leaving England because of religious disagreements with King James (and his son Charles).
Where did the church records go when the church closed? I was married there in 1969. My father’s funeral was there in 1968. My family and I were members there, mother til the late 1990s when she moved to be with me in Evanston. IL. Did the congregation merge with another UCC church?