Several years ago I sent you a link informing you of the sad demise of the Gardiner, Maine Congregational Church (UCC), formerly the First Universalist Church — one of the handful of congregations that elected to affiliate elsewhere rather than be part of the UUA merger. This article, from [the May 2] Augusta Kennebec Journal, tells of what is about to become of the lovely old meetinghouse.
I appreciate the news. I hate to see churches die, but since the conversion by a cider maker will preserve the attractive building, I can’t complain.
I saw something clever when Husband and I vacationed in Toronto this summer. We passed by a United Church of Canada parish church — a huge edifice, with what I guess is historically small congregation. But they did something smart to make it seem welcoming and lively. Something other urban churches could do.
On the church sign, which many pedestrians would pass, you would see a panoramic photograph of the church interior, taken during a Sunday service. So while I dimly recall the grey stone — or was it dark brick? — of the church, I recall the warm interior view well enough to write about it now…
The 1912 copy of the Universalist Register I wrote about had illustrations and advertising in the back. Such fun. One of the images was of one of the locations of the Universalist Publishing House, then on Boylston Street, very close to the Arlington Street Church.
The building is still there, perhaps incorporated into the building next door, thus throwing off the street numbers. And I gather the street-front cafe is this restaurant: Parish Cafe.
Can any Boston readers confirm? Have any eaten there?
I’ve been to First Universalist Church in Providence a few times over the years, but never so long as over General Assembly, when the church hosted morning prayer and vespers, and the usual Sunday service with a special observance of Holy Communion.
Here are a mix of photos, taken after the services in the sanctuary, lounge and dining room, with a focus on interesing tidbits. You know I’m going to make something of that Universalist Comrades (men’s group) emblem.
This segment, from this week’s Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, pushes one my buttons: the experience that churches with just enough space are the ones that tend to survive. A recession following a big building campaign, or a congregation with unaffordable maintainance costs often leads to closure.
That, and once a religious building is lost in an expensive, built-out city (New York, Washington and Boston come to mind) it is very hard to build one later.