More About Site of the First Meetinghouse

Key sermons given here include: the first from Reverend Samuel Parris on November 19, 1689, in which he instructed his congregation on how he should be treated: “You are to endeavor by all lawful means to make my heavy work, as much as in you lies, light and cheerful . . . And not by unchristian-like behavior to myself, or one another, or other Churches of God . . . ;” Reverend Deodat Lawson’s guest sermon of March 20, abruptly interrupted by Abigail Williams; and the sermon given a week later in which Reverend Parris scolded Mary Sibley publicly for suggesting the use of counter-magic to root out the witches.

 

The first meetinghouse fell into disrepair less than 30 years after it was built. That, combined with the need for a bigger space, not to mention its unhappy past, led the people of Salem Village to abandon it in 1701 and erect a new meetinghouse down the road, on the corner of Hobart and Centre Streets.

 

Charles Upham further noted, “The old [meetinghouse] was dismantled of all its removable parts, and the site reverted to Joseph Hutchinson. It is supposed that he removed the frame to the other side of the road, and converted it into a barn; and that it was used as such until, in the memory of old persons now living, it mouldered, crumbled into powder-dust, and sunk to the ground.”

 

Additional note: Three Sovereigns for Sarah, starring Vanessa Redgrave as Sarah Cloyce, was filmed in 1984 and aired in 1985 as a miniseries for PBS’s American Playhouse. At that time, a replica of the first meetinghouse was constructed on the property of the Rebecca Nurse Homestead for use in the movie. Today, visitors to the Rebecca Nurse Homestead can tour the building.

 

Additional note: The house standing on the corner of Hobart and Forest Streets (next to the site of the first meetinghouse) is known as the Darling-Prince house, which was moved here from Newbury Street in the 1840s. It dates to circa 1681 and is actually two houses put together.