Diary of Charles Francis Adams, volume 3



The First Church in Boston, Chauncy Place facing or following page 218[unavailable]

Chauncy Place, just off Summer Street, so-called because it had been the site of an orchard and garden cultivated by the Reverend Charles Chauncy when he was the minister of the First Church, had been the property of the Church since 1680. The decision to build a meetinghouse on the site was taken in 1807 at the same time that it was decided to sell the “Old Brick,” located on Cornhill Square, which had served the First Church for almost a century. The new edifice, actually the fourth since the founding of the Church in 1632, was apparently constructed to the plans of Benjamin Joy by Asher Benjamin, who was appointed inspector and superintendent of the operation. The building, 70" x 75", was constructed of brick and was in use from 1808 to 1868, at which time it was sold, the congregation moving into its new building at Marlborough and Berkeley streets. Perhaps the decision to abandon the old structure, with which Adamses and Brookses had long been identified (see below, p. 14), contributed to Charles Francis Adams’ decision on his return from England to Boston in 1868 to seek a different congregational affiliation. Actually the Chauncy Place building had never met with the congregation’s approval, the principal complaint being the lack of light. During the years of its use it was several times remodeled, principally in 1842, but never satisfactorily. (Arthur B. Ellis, History of the First Church in Boston, 1630–1880, Boston, 1881, p. 235, 270–271, 306–312; Caleb H. Snow, Geography of Boston, Boston, 1830, p. 98.) Bowen’s engraving was used first in his Picture of Boston, 2d edn., Boston, 1833, facing p. 128.

Courtesy of the Massachusetts Historical Society.