Friends of the 1836 Meeting House
 
 
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A community led corporation dedicated to the preservation and care of the 1836 Meeting House

 

About the Friends

The Friends of the 1836 Meeting House of North Andover, Inc. was created by a group of local residents to inform, share and support the ongoing preservation efforts of this historic building with the community-at-large. The new non-profit will help maintain this classic 1836 Meeting House that is a cornerstone of the historic Town Common.

The historic meeting house in the Old Center of North Andover is considered an iconic structure in North Andover and the Merrimack Valley, with its steeple and façade serving as a welcoming beacon day and at night. The existing structure, the fifth Meeting House on the common, was built in 1836. It is part of the Old Center District of North Andover and is included in the national Historic Register and the local Historic District Register.

Much work has been done to preserve the structure and maintain its importance in the community. The Friends of the 1836 Meeting House of North Andover, Inc. was created to inform, share with the community-at-large and support the ongoing preservation efforts of this historic building that sits so prominently in the town. There is a rich history to the 183-year-old building, including a functioning Paul Revere bell, one of only 23 remaining bells cast by this famous Patriot’s company. The Meeting House is home to the North Parish Unitarian Universalist congregation as well as People’s Pantry food assistance, McVagley Community GBLTQ Youth Support Group and the Great Pond Sangha Buddhist meditation group. In addition the meeting house offers its space to many community-related organizations, including Bread & Roses meal preparation, Merrimac Valley People for Peace, addiction recovery support groups, and Community InRoads.

 

Meeting House History

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Early History

The original Meeting House was built on ground where the Pennacook Native Americans once lived. One of the Algonquin-speaking tribes, they farmed maize, corn, and squash along the riverbeds of the Merrimack and hunted the wooded areas. In 1645 residents of Andover (then known as Cochichawicke) formally established The First Church of Christ at Cochichawicke.  The original congregation was the 37th church established by Puritan settlers of Massachusetts Bay colony.   

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The Meeting House

As the population grew over the years, the church's building, or "meetinghouse", was replaced four times until the present building was erected in 1836. By then Andover had been split into North and South parishes.  As this church was located in the North, it became known as North Parish Church.  In 1855 the north and south parishes legally became separate towns, Andover and North Andover.

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The Sanctuary

Boston architect Richard Bond designed the 1836 Meeting House in the Gothic style highlighted by large expanses of glass, clustered columns, and sharply pointed spires. There is a balcony which holds the organ and provides access to the steeple.  One floor above the balcony is the clock level and a floor above that houses the Revere bell.  There are no internal support columns for the three story high ceiling in the sanctuary because the Bond design included robust wooden trusses located between the roof and ceiling. 

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The Paul Revere Bell

In 1807 the “freeholders and other inhabitants of the North Parish voted to accept Colonel Paul Revere’s proposal for a new bell to their meeting house” because the old one was broken. The new bell was listed as of “1200 weight” and was inscribed “Revere and Son- Boston, 1806” and cost 45 cents a pound ($540 total). Paul Revere and his second son, Joseph, were the bellmakers. The Meeting House bell is one of 23 remaining Bells cast by Revere during his tenure with the Foundry. It was hung in the Fourth Meeting House and then moved to the tower of the present Meeting House during its construction in 1836.

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The Organ

The Meeting House has a Hook and Hastings organ (Opus 2559) installed in the sanctuary balcony.  In its day, Hook was the premier organ building company in the United States.  The Hook brothers were sons of a cabinet maker in Salem, Massachusetts where they apprenticed with the organ builder William Goodrich. They moved to Boston in 1832 and began producing larger organs.  The Meeting House organ was donated by the Stevens and Osgood families in 1928 in memory of their parents Moses Tyler Stevens (1825-1907) and Charlotte Emeline Osgood Stevens (1831-1906).

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The Clock

One floor below the Revere Bell in the steeple is the clock which faces the Common for all to see. The clock from the 4th Meeting House had been given by Benjamin Barker to the church in 1762.  This clock was preserved and placed in the steeple of the 5th Meeting House in 1836.  At the time, Mr. Simon Willard, a Boston Clockmaker, performed repairs for the sum of $300.  The clockworks were updated around 1870 by the E. Howard Clock Company of Boston, MA.  Other updates to the clock have been made since then which coordinate the ringing of the Revere bell.