6 PAYSON HILL ROAD
RINDGE, NH 03461
First Congregational Church
United Church of Christ
Way Back When
by Margaret Morabito, Church Historian
Second Meeting House: Open the Doors Continued
Interestingly, the Rindge Second Meeting House is located in what has been termed the twin-porch zone, which is a meeting house architectural zone in the Contoocook River Valley of southern New Hampshire, including Cheshire County and also Worcester County in Massachusetts, where many porch-and-tower and twin-porch meeting houses were built. Ours is known as one of the third generation large-sized meeting houses. If you are interested in delving deeper into the architectural designs of meeting houses and their locations, you will enjoy reading Twin-Porch versus Single-Porch Stairwells: Two Examples of Cluster Diffusion in Rural Meetinghouse Architecture, by Peter Benes.
Compared with today’s interior layout, the Second Meeting House of 1796 was totally different. Some has been written about the revised interior layouts from 1839 and again in 1871 where the writers reference moving the pulpit between the east and west ends of the sanctuary, but our church historians did not write about the north side pulpit. We can see what the interior possibly would have looked like from looking at meeting houses built in the same era, with box pews, galleries, and an elevated pulpit centered on the long north side. Click Millville, MA meeting house, or Rocky Hill Meeting House interior, or Sandown, NH meeting house.
Attached at the end of this article is a CAD design of the interior of the Second Meeting House as it may have looked in 1796-97, based on data that has been found so far about our meeting house and from research into similar meeting houses.
(Sources consulted: Stearn’s History of Rindge, New Hampshire 1736-1874; The First Congregational Church & Society 1765-1965 bicentennial booklet; the Old-Time New England Journal, Winter/Spring 1979;Wikipedia - colonial meeting house; CAD drawing by Professor Michael G. Morabito; Yankee MagazineNew England Meetinghouses; and other in-text web links.)