Second Church, Boston

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For the historic church building once occupied by this congregation, see Second Church in Boston.
Old North Church, North Square, Boston, 17th-18th century

The Second Church (1649-1970) in Boston, Massachusetts, was first a Congregational church, and then beginning in 1802, a Unitarian church. The congregation occupied a number of successive locations around town, including North Square, Hanover Street, Copley Square, and the Fenway. Ministers included Increase Mather, Cotton Mather, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1970 it merged with Boston's First Church.



Through its long history, the Second Church had some eight church buildings successively, located in various parts of Boston:[1][2]

  • North Square (1649-1776). In 1677 a new building replaced the old.
  • Hanover Street (1779-1849). In 1779 the Second Church merged with the New Brick Church, and moved into the New Brick's building on Hanover St. In 1845 a new building replaced the old.
  • Bedford Street (1854-1872)
  • Copley Square (1874-1914), on Boylston Street, between Dartmouth and Clarendon.[3][4] Building designed by N.J. Bradlee, in the gothic revival style.[5]
  • 874 Beacon Street, at Park Drive (1914-1970). Building designed by Ralph Adams Cram, now home to Ruggles Baptist Church.


17th-18th centuries
  • John Mayo (minister 1655-1673)
  • Increase Mather (minister 1664-1723)
  • Cotton Mather (minister 1685-1728)
  • Joshua Gee (minister 1723-1748)
  • Samuel Mather (minister 1732-1741)
  • Samuel Checkley, Jr. (minister 1747-1768)
  • John Lathrop (minister 1768-1816)
19th century
  • Henry Ware, Jr. (minister 1817-1830)
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson (minister 1829-1832)
  • Chandler Robbins (1810-1882; minister 1833-1874)[2]
  • Robert Laird Collier (minister 1876-1878)
  • Edward Augustus Horton (minister 1880-1892)
  • Thomas Van Ness (minister 1893-1913)
20th century
  • Samuel Raymond Maxwell (minister 1914-1919)
  • Eugene Rodman Shippen (minister 1920-1929)
  • Dudley Hays Ferrell (minister 1931-1932)
  • DuBois LeFevre (minister 1933-1940)
  • Walton E. Cole (minister 1941-1945)
  • G. Ernest Lynch, Jr. (minister 1947-1949)
  • Clayton Brooks Hale (minister 1950-1957)
  • John Nicholls Booth (minister 1958-1964)
  • John K. Hammon (minister 1964-1970)[1]

Image gallery[edit]


  1. ^ a b Massachusetts Historical Society. "Second Church (Boston, Mass.) Records, 1650-1970: Guide to the Collection". 
  2. ^ a b Chandler Robbins. A history of the Second Church, or Old North, in Boston: to which is added a History of the New Brick Church. Boston: John Wilson & Son, 1852
  3. ^ Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay
  4. ^ A Church 250 Years Old; Ralph Waldo Emerson Was Its Pastor Seventy-five Years Ago. New York Times, November 20, 1899; p.3.
  5. ^ Walter Muir Whitehill. The Making of an Architectural Masterpiece: The Boston Public Library. American Art Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Autumn, 1970).

Further reading[edit]

  • The Second Church in Boston: commemorative services held on the completion of two hundred and fifty years since its foundation, 1649-1899. Boston: The Society, 1900.

Coordinates: 42°20′49″N 71°06′18″W / 42.347°N 71.105°W / 42.347; -71.105