First Baptist Church in Framingham

History of the First Baptist Church

1757 Elders Whitman Jacobs and Noah Adams from Connecticut traveled to Framingham to preach at intervals.
1762 Mr. Jacobs administered the first baptisms in the area to four people.
1762 The Framingham Baptist Society was formed to support part-time preaching.
1772 Continuous preaching began. Joseph Byxbe, Jr. was the first regular preacher to worshipers in the Society who met in the upper story of Ebenezer Marshall’s tavern at Park’s Corner in South Framingham.
1762–92 About 30 people, not affiliated with any church, were baptized in Framingham.
1809 Five Baptist professors (acknowledged) were in Framingham.
1810 Two baptisms took place in the area.
August 4, 1811 A church was organized under the name The Baptist Church of Weston and Framingham. A powerful revival commenced in this church and spread in the area through 1815, leading about 50 people to be added to the church. The full church added 177 by baptism and 32 by letter.
June 22, 1812 The First Baptist Society in Framingham was incorporated.
1825 Thirteen men agreed to take responsibility for the Baptist house of worship: Joseph Ballard, Deacon Enoch Belknap, David Bigelow, John Bullard, Deacon Stephen Buttrick, Carleton Corbett, Isaac Fiske, Moses Fiske, Henry Hyde, Windsor Moulton, Warren Nixon, Elias Temple, and John Wenzell Jr. Solomon Willard, a Worcester architect who designed the beautiful Christopher Wren steeple, drew plans for a church building. Land was purchased from Captain Peter Johnson and William Buckminster for $650, and Col. Daniel Harrington of Shrewsbury was the builder. The bell, including the frame, was purchased from George Holbrook of Medway for $400.
Nov. 17, 1825 The cornerstone for the church building was laid with Masonic rites. Only a rough cellar was finished under the 54’ x 64’ building; the back was open so that horses could be driven in and hitched. Box pews were sold to cover the cost of building. Two heating stoves were installed – an unusual luxury in those days. Total cost of the building, furnishings, and land was about $9,000.
May 3, 1826 The Framingham church became a distinct body with 119 members when a council convened and voted “to constitute the brethren and sisters of Framingham as a distinct body and church of our Lord Jesus Christ in Framingham.” The Reverend Charles Train became the pastor.
January 1827 The first services were held in the new building. The pastor preached from the text of Psalm 90:17: “The Beauty of Holiness.” Many people attended, despite a heavy storm that day.
1825-45 Seven young men from the church entered the ministry.
1836 One room was finished in the basement.
1840s In a prelude to the founding of Park Street Baptist Church, the first religious services in the farming village of South Framingham were conducted by lay people or a minister from a neighboring village and held in homes or the schoolhouse at the corner of Lincoln and Concord streets. Later, meetings were held in a straw bonnet shop on Irving Street.
1843 Several members of First Baptist Church left to start a Baptist Church in Ashland.
1845 The bell in the steeple of First Baptist Church cracked and was replaced by George Holbrook for $50.
1849  "Negro galleries" were closed, further renovations were done, and the building was insured for $5,000.
1851 After a religious service in Waverly Hall at the corner of Waverly and Irving streets, attendees voted to “adopt measures to secure stated religious meetings in the village.” In December, they formed the South Framingham Baptist Society.
1852 A pipe organ was installed at First Baptist for $1,400.
March 17, 1854 The organization of the South Framingham Baptist Church (later renamed Park Street Baptist Church) was completed. Twenty people from the First Baptist Church in Framingham and two from the Ashland Baptist Church presented their letters of dismissal from their respective churches and joined the members of the South Framingham Baptist Church. The pastor of First Baptist acted as moderator, and the group adopted the Articles of Faith and Covenant of the First Baptist Church.
1854 Members of First Baptist Church started a church in Woodville (Hopkinton).
1855 Members of South Framingham Baptist Church purchased property on the corner of Franklin and Park streets from Lowell Eames. Alexander Rice Esty designed the building, and Captain Lamb was the contractor. The completed church was dedicated on March 15.
1857 At First Baptist Church, the sanctuary floor raised and the vestry finished. Circular pews were installed and recess was made behind the pulpit.
1869 As the population of the South Framingham village increased, a group left the South Framingham Baptist Church to form Wesley Methodist Church.
1874 The parlor was set off and a kitchen was added to First Baptist.
1883 A group of people left the South Framingham Baptist Church to unite with some members of Plymouth Church to organize the Grace Congregational Church in downtown Framingham.
1886 Four rooms were added behind the pulpit, and a baptistry was installed at First Baptist.
1888First Baptist Church was incorporated, thus replacing the Baptist Society.
1888 South Framingham Baptist members Mr. and Mrs. Hill gave funds to build Hills Memorial Chapel (used in the 1990s by the Greater Framingham Community Church) in Lokerville at the corner of Hartford and C streets as a branch of the main church. Much of the work was done by the pastor and the young people. In 1891, interest had waned, and the building was deeded to the Massachusetts Sunday School Assembly.
Late 1800s to early 1900s Baptist churches had contributed to missions since the time of Adoniram Judson (1788–1850). One outstanding gift was for the first chapel car, a train car decorated as a full chapel that traveled on wheels. Seven Baptist cars operated from 1890 to 1913. Other gifts were for the Mills Memorial Library at Newton Theological Seminary; Hills Memorial Chapel in Framingham; Goddard Memorial Chapel in Shaohsing, China; White School for Boys in Nashville; Ella W. Fiske School for Girls in Mandalay, Burma (now Myanmar); Elisha M. White Library at Gordon Bible College in Wenham, MA; and a church and Barranquita High School in Puerto Rico.
1891 The corporation of the South Framingham Baptist Church was organized under the laws of the Commonwealth, and the name was changed to Park Street Baptist Church. Electric lights and a new heating system were installed in the building.
1896 The Dennison Manufacturing Company moved to Framingham from Maine, and many workers and their families chose Park Street for their place of worship, causing membership to increase rapidly.
1902 Electric lights were installed at First Baptist Church.
1910 The roof at First Baptist Church was shingled with slate.
1912 The organ at First Baptist Church was motorized.
1912 Rededication services were held at Park Street Baptist Church in January. The 30-year mortgage on the parsonage was paid off, a balcony was added to accommodate the large congregation, a new lighting system was installed, and modifications were made to the front entrance and vestibule.
1917-20The spire at First Baptist Church was reinforced with a complete steel framework embedded in solid rock.
1920 The Reverend S. Paul Jefferson, a man beloved by the townspeople as well as parishioners, began his long ministry at Park Street. He retired in June 1948.
1926 First Baptist Church observed its Centennial with a week of special events. A historical sermon was preached by the Rev. Arthur Train Belknap DD, a descendant of of Enoch Belknap, one of the founders. The church’s pastor, the Reverend Alfred Wheeler, preached a forward-looking sermon.
1928 Two new hot-ai,r coal-burning furnaces were installed at First Baptist.
1938 The First Baptist Church legally changed from two distinct organizations – corporate and religious – to operate under one.
1938/39The steeple on Park Street Baptist Church was damaged by a hurricane and termite rot. The entire steeple and narthex were replaced, changing the building from an Italian style to a colonial style.
1947 The sanctuary at First Baptist was redecorated and platform was enlarged.
1949 Oil burning furnaces were installed at First Baptist.
1954 Park Street Baptist Church reconstructed the vestry and named it Jefferson Hall after the long-term pastor. 1957 Carillon records and a playe were installed in the belfry at First Baptist to honor Deacon L.L. Workman for his untiring and devoted service to the church.
1958 First Baptist sponsored a Hungarian family of four.
1960 Major renovations, including installation of new pews, flooring, and decorations, were made in the sanctuary at Park Street Baptist. Aluminum siding was applied to the exterior in 1962.
1961 First Baptist Church purchased 11 Cherry Road to use as a parsonage.
1964 Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston gave an address in First Baptist Church, marking the first time a Roman Catholic prelate had spoken in a Protestant Church in Framingham.
1964 Members of both congregations attended the Billy Graham Crusade in Boston. 1964 First Baptist purchased the Banks property adjoining the church property on Pleasant Street.
1970 First Baptist renovated the vestry, installing new electric wiring and an acoustical ceiling and paneling the walls.
April 13, 1975 First Baptist held a rededication service to celebrat 150 years of ministry and the newly painted sanctuary.
1980 At Park Street Baptist, the Reverend James Hegley began many innovative programs. He started a Sunday morning radio program, called Turnings, on the local station, introduced a children’s time to the worship service, consistently led adult education groups, used lay people to take part in every service, and was instrumental in Park Street’s joining of the Framingham Community Interfaith Conference.
1984 All 72 pews at First Baptist were reupholstered at the cost of $8,450.
1985 First Baptist Church was painted, shutters were fixed, and the weathervane restored.
1987 First Baptist replaced the 3 front doors of the church.
1987 First Baptist paid in full the mortgages of the Pleasant St. and Cherry Rd. (parsonage) properties.
1988 First Baptist remortgaged the Pleasant St. property to repair and refurbish the rental building, installing siding, new windows, and new zoned heating.
1988-89 Park Street Baptist did aggressive fundraising and secured a large mortgage for reconstruction. The beautifully renovated building with handicapped access was rededicated in October 1989, and building use was expanded to include many local groups. 1994 The roof at First Baptist was replaced with 30-year architectural shingles. The front and south sides of the church were repainted.
1996 Park Street Baptist voted to become a welcoming and affirming church in solidarity with other American Baptists around the country.
1997 As membership declined, Park Street formed a task force to look at alternatives for the future ministry of the church. Members voted to pursue a merger with a local compatible church, the First Baptist Church in Framingham. A task force at First Baptist joined Park Street’s group to work on a proposal, and in June 1998, the congregations of both churches voted overwhelmingly to pursue a merger. Active members at Park Street numbered 127, with average Sunday attendance of 65 people. The numbers at First Baptist were slightly lower. The Park Street facility was put on the market in preparation for the legal blending of congregations at the Framingham Centre building.
November 1, 1998 The two congregations began worshiping together with First Baptist’s pastor, the Reverend Ellen Parsons Tatreau.
2000 Windows in the sanctuary were reglazed and rehung.
January 25, 2002 The merger of the two congregations under the name The First Baptist Church in Framingham became official following the sale of Park Street’s building.
2002 A group from the church took a mission trip to El Salvador and help to rebuild buildings destroyed by an earthquake. A group also went to El Salvador in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2013.
2003 The church building was made handicapped accessible. The downstairs entry was redesigned to include a ramp, an automatic door, and a lift to provide access to the sanctuary from the ground level. A handicapped restroom was added. The vestibule was redesigned with a new stairway to downstairs.
2004 The Sunday School room was dedicated as Jefferson Hall in honor of Rev. S. Paul Jefferson, former pastor of Park Street Baptist Church
2006 The belfry was cleaned, the steeple was repaired, and pews were modified for wheelchair access
2011 The exterior of the church was washed and painted, and the shutters were repaired and painted.
2016 The sanctuary is repainted.
2020 The lower level of the church was painted, and one front column was replaced after it was found to have rot damage.
2021 The steeple was refurbished.