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The Fascinating First Protestant Church in Vermont

The Old First Church • Photo Credit: Carol M. Highsmith

The Old First Church • Gathered in 1762 • First Protestant Church in Vermont

Our Fascination with New England Churches; from the perspective of architectural simplicity that’s on display at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in our tiny village of Wells, Vermont; to the grand New England simplicity seen inside The Old First Church in Bennington to the more majestic simplicity of the Old North Church in Boston, Massachusetts.

Overview & Perspective

These remarkable small-town, white buildings and church structures were largely erected by local builders without the benefit of architects. Their designs and inspiration largely came from traditional designs and pattern books, which may have contributed the essence of plainness so common in early church construction. Revered for their beauty, simplicity and elegance – early churches of New England hold a special place in our hearts as we’re all drawn to these remarkable New England towns and villages to experience this unique sense of place that broadly defines our New England character.

More About The Old First Church

The Old First Church was “gathered” on December 3, 1762, the first Protestant congregation in the New Hampshire Grants. The organizers were “Separatists,” influenced by the Great Awakening, from Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, and were proprietors of the new town of Bennington.

The present church, built in 1805 and dedicated January 1, 1806. As a result, the Vermont Legislature, in 1935, designated the church as “Vermont’s Colonial Shrine”.

Robert Frost’s remains are buried in the cemetery adjacent to the church. Although he was not a member of the church, he read his poem, The Black Cottage, at the rededication in 1937. Robert Frost and the house where he lived in Shaftsbury is located just north of Bennington, see the Robert Frost Stone House Museum.

Lavius Fillmore, cousin of the nation’s thirtieth president, and the church architect, built three more churches including the Congregational Church of Middlebury that’s considered Fillmore’s masterpiece, was completed in 1809. See Pond Mountain Inn’s Fort Ticonderoga / Middlebury Day Trip Itinerary for more things to do in the area.

Most of the abbreviated content taken directly The Old First Church website.

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