Originally erected in 1857 as the Union Meeting House, which served as a place of worship for
people of all denominations until 1871, when the Universalists bought out the interests of the
others and remodeled it for their own use.
The first regular organization of this congregation was in 1867, and the parish was incorporated
During 1895 and '96 there was considerable discussion among the Universalists about
rebuilding their church, or at least renovating the old building. By 1898 plans for the
rebuilding of the church had finally been accepted and the money raised for the renovation.
Contractor Wellman moved the old church to the new location, making it into the vestry of the
new building, and by October the exterior of the edifice was nearly complete. Plans for
dedication were being made for 1899. Harry Hayman Cochrane of Monmouth, who later became world
famous for his church murals, was doing the murals for the new sanctuary.
It is still one of the most beautiful churches to be found anywhere in the state. Its
sanctuary is unique in its architectural design and beauty, from its inclined floor which
gives an amphitheater effect to its domed ceiling with its muraled figures representing
attributes of God, all softly lighted from three large Tiffany stained glass windows of
triptych design. To further enhance the impressive beauty of this sanctuary, are twelve
life-sized Cochrane mural masterpieces of Old and New Testament personalities.
The First Universalist Church is distinguished by its building, which is one of
Pittsfield's four listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The neighboring parsonage was the original Lancey House and was torn down in 1956
when the lot was sold to Sunoco.
Designed to accommodate a variety of communal activities, the church features a strikingly
beautiful sanctuary adorned with Tiffany windows, hand-painted murals and a 95 year-old organ.
In addition to its tremendous visual appeal, the sanctuary has an outstanding acoustical
design. Attached to the sanctuary is an auditorium with a stage and two small support rooms.
The Ladies Aid Parlor offers comfortable accommodations for small gatherings, while
Kierstead Hall and a commercial- sized kitchen downstairs provide meal and activity space.
The building is fully wheelchair accessible with the use of an entrance ramp outside and a
stair lift inside. In recent years the downstairs area has been rented to Sebasticook Farms for
adult day care activities.
In 2012, PHS member Tom Brown reproduced the Centennial Celebration 1867-1967 booklet [pdf 1.8 Mb] which contains a detailed history of the Universalist Church during that period. The same document formatted for printing a facsimile of the original is available here. Tom has also created an index for the booklet listing all of the important points of interest in it.