1665

THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF BOSTON

HISTORY
The First Baptist Church of Boston officially began "The 28 of the 3d mo. 1665 in Charlestown, Massachusetts'' which, acording to our modern calendars, was June 7, 1665.  The history of the Baptist in Boston, however, goes back beyond that.  In 1651, Obadiah Holmes (an ancestor of President Lincoln) was whipped 30 times at the site of what would later be known as "The Boston Massacre" for his Baptist belief and practice.  It is known that meetings of the early members of First Baptist Church were held in November 0f 1663.  Under intense persecution by the Standing Order of the Colony, First Baptist Church met in private homes (sometimes Charlestown, sometimes Boston, sometimes Noddle Island) until 1679.
1679
On February 15, 1679, First Baptist Church of Boston obtained its first Meeting House.  It was inconspicuously located on what was then known as Back Street (now Stillman Street) in what we know as Boston's North End, Soon it was brought to the attention of the General Court of the Colony, which promptly ordered that the doors be nailed shut and prohibiting that "any meeting be held therein."  The intrepid Baptist, therfore, met outside for Worship in the harsh New England month of March.  On the following Sunday, the doors were found to be open.
1764
​1807
One of the most remarkable pastors to grace the pulpit of the First Baptist Church of Boston was the Reverend Doctor Samuel Stillman.  Rev. Stillman was the pastor from 1764-1807.  In this era, and with Rev. Stillman's leadership, were established:  Brown Universtiy, The Massachusetts Baptist Missionary Society (1802, forerunner of the American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts), and the First African Baptist Church (1805, now People's Baptist Church.)















Numerous years later, during the pastorate of Francis Wayland, Newton Theological School (now Andeover Newton Theological School) was established for the purpose of training ministers to serve Baptist churches in New England.
1771
​In 1771, a new an larger meeting house was built on the same site.  During the American Revolution, this meeeting was used as a British barracks and later as a hospital.  It was in this building that the Massachusetts Missionary Society, as well as Newton Theological School, was formed 

1829
In 1829, a new meetinghouse was built for First Baptist Church.  It was located a few blocks away from Fanuel Hall (graced with the grasshopper weathervane which was made by our Deacon, Shem Drowne), across from what is now Haymarket Station of the MBTA.  This was the first time that First Baptist Church possessed and indoor baptistry.  President Andrew Jackson and his Cabinet attended Worship here when Rev. William Hague was the Pastor (1831-1837.)  In 1841, the first women's society of this church was organized.  In 1844, in this building, the church voted a strong negative answer to a question from the American Baptist Mission Society regarding the appointment of a missionary who was a slave holder.

1854
In 1854, First Baptist Church of Boston moved into this Gothic revival building on Beacon Hill.  Visible for miles out to sea, this building was sometimes described as "The Church of the Holy Asparagus."  It was the Rev. Dr. Rollin H. Neale who was the only pastor at his site. Rev. Neale served First Baptist Church from 1837-1877, which included three meetinghouses.  This meetinghouse was sold to Boston University (which later turned the property over to the Commonwealth to expand the State House.
​Rev. Dr. Rollin Heber Neale

1877
In 1877, First Baptist merged with the Shawmut Avenue Baptist Church (originally known as Thirteenth Baptist Church) and occupied this building at the corner of Shawmut Avenue and Rutland Street.  In the plan of union was the intention to move to a more suitable location.
1882
A most suitable location was found in 1882 on Commonwealth Avenue in Boston's Back Bay.  Originally constructed for the Brattle Square Church is our current meeting house.  Designed by H.H. Richardson in the Romanesque Revivial style, this was his first church in Boston and (anywhere) in this style.  The tower friezes were designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and feature angels with heraldic trumpets.