Historic Landmark

This historic meetinghouse at the head of South Bristol Peninsula stands today in its original 1772 form, appearing virtually as it did to our forbears.

The Old Walpole Meetinghouse was built that year on land given by John Thomas; the builder being believed to have been Samuel Woodward, a shipwright from Scituate, Massachusetts who later moved to Bristol.

While at the outset the meetinghouse was Presbyterian in denomination, its distance from Boston, where the Presbytery met, was so great that it became subsequently a Congregational Church. (The Congregational headquarters have always been in Portland, Maine).

The original hand-shaved shingles are still on the walls and when, in 1872, extensive repairs of the structure were undertaken, they were found to be so far superior to modern shingles, it was decided not to disturb them. Nails and hinges throughout the building were all handmade. The windows were easily the most expensive parts of the building, since they were imported from England; each window is said to have cost the price of one cow.

Especially interesting is the paneled balcony, which was prepared for the servants, who also attended worship upstairs. These fine old panels are boards 30 inches in width, surprising because the King’s men had marked all trees over 21″ in diameter to be saved for masts for the Royal Navy.

The Meetinghouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places


Photographs, “Colonial Meetinghouses of New England.” Paul Wainwright 2009