|St. Paul's Church Building|
by Frank Spinella
St. Paul's first church building dates from 1839. The following is taken from James O. Lyford's account in History of Concord, N.H., Vol. II (1903): "In the summer of 1836 John West took it upon himself to obtain funds to build a church, but he had hardly more than made a beginning when death brought his labors to a close. Two years later, at a meeting of the wardens and vestry, held October 13th, the subject of erecting a church was again considered, and a committee, consisting of Albe Cady, Leavitt C. Virgin, and Isaac Hill, was appointed to draft a plan for a suitable building, estimate the expense, ascertain the cost of a lot, and, dividing the whole amount into one hundred shares, report at a future meeting. On December 17th the committee re-ported that more than half the shares had been taken, and that donations had been received to assist in erecting the church. Thus, encouraged, the society proceeded at once to purchase a lot of Nathaniel G. Upham for one thousand dollars. The lot and the building erected thereon were situated immediately east of and adjoining the lot now occupied by St. Paul's parish. A plan of a church drawn by John Miller was accepted, and a contract made with Virgin & Miller to erect a building in accordance therewith. The work was completed near the close of 1839, and January 1, 1840, the church was consecrated to worship by the venerable Bishop Griswold of the Eastern diocese, of which New Hampshire was then a part."
A History of Concord, by Nathaniel Bouton (1856), elaborates: "The corner-stone of St. Paul's diocesan church, in Concord, was laid with appropriate ceremonies, on Thursday, the 13th of June . Service by Rev. Mr. Ten Broeck, assisted by Rev. Mr. Chase of St. Andrew's Church, Hopkinton. An interesting address on the condition and prospects of the Society was delivered by the Rector, Mr. Ten Broeck. A deposit of various articles was made beneath the corner-stone."
1858, the year that Rev. James H. Eames became rector, marked the beginning of the "new" church building on the site where the church presently stands. Hurd's History of Merrimack and Belknap Counties (1885) reports:
"Very soon after Dr. Eames began his work here signs of a new and deepening interest in the church's work were visible, and soon it became evident that the little church would not long accommodate the congregation. The following appears on the parish records:
"'At a meeting duly notified, and held in the church, May 24, 1858, a committee was appointed, consisting of Rev. J.H. Eames, David Davis, E. Symmes, A.C. Pearce, John M. Hill, William L. Foster and Charles P. Gage, to take into consideration the expediency of enlarging the old church or building a new one, to report at an adjourned meeting to be held in one week.'
"It was finally decided to build a new church, and the following were appointed a building committee: Ebenezer Symmes, Augustine C. Pearce, George Minot, John M. Hill and Abel Hutchins. Of these gentlemen, John M. Hill survives.
"On Wednesday, the 25th of May, 1859, the corner-stone of the new church was laid. Two excellent addresses were delivered on the occasion one by the Rev. Dr. Burroughs, of Portsmouth, the other by Hon. Josiah Minot. Under the watchful supervision of the building committee the new church went on to completion, and on the 15th day of December, 1859, was consecrated to the worship of Almighty God by the Rt. Rev. Bishop Carleton Chase, of this diocese, the Rt. Rev. Bishop Clark, of the diocese of Rhode Island, preaching the consecration sermon.
"The cost of the church and furnishing was about seventeen thousand dollars."
The following spring, Bishop Chase, in his Annual Address at the Sixtieth Diocesan Convention, was quoted as follows:
"I congratulate the friends of the Church on the completion of this noble and beautiful structure. May our Lord bless the warm hearts and liberal hands of this faithful people. I know not any instance in which a people has more freely and plentifully made an offering of its means. It is an interesting fact, that although the cost of this church is large, there is no incumbrance, and the debts, if not already discharged, will soon be so."