The story of North Rochester Congregational Church

Apr 27, 2021

The writer of this piece, Connie Eshbach, is the vice president of the Rochester Historical Society. This is part of a series of Rochester history briefs.

ROCHESTER — The church in North Rochester that sits on North Avenue is the third building in town to house a congregation.

On November 17,1748, a mile west of the current building, the first North Rochester Meetinghouse was erected.

Winter was fast approaching, so it was necessary to build the meetinghouse quickly. According to church records, the task was accomplished "with the exertion of many men aided by some West Indian rum as the custom of the time demanded.”

Once built, the church became the First Parish Precinct, serving the northwest part of Rochester as well as sections of Middleboro and Freetown. Later, it became the Poll Parish.

In 1791, a Territorial Parish of North Rochester was incorporated. The legal papers were signed in the Massachusetts House of Representatives on March 21,1793 and approved the next day by Gov. John Hancock.

The same year, a second meetinghouse was built on the site of today's church. Before this second building was erected, there was disagreement among the parishioners on the location for the new church.

Some wanted the current site while others preferred a lot near Black Brook and close to the Stillwater Furnace property.

The timber for the building was actually delivered to the Stillwater site, but during the night, the opposing faction quietly moved the timber to the current North Avenue location.

Rev. Thomas West was the Pastor there for many years.

Next was Rev. Isaac Briggs who served from 1835-1857. During his tenure, the current church building was erected as well as a parsonage on Snipatuit Road.