Christian Union Church
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The Christian Union Church was Established in 1810
The Christian Union Church was established in 1810 in the latter years of the Christian Connection movement. The congregation at first met in private homes. and called themselves the Christian Church of Portsmouth.
Then in 1824, Unitarian Pastor William Ellery Channing led efforts to build the gathering's first meetinghouse at the northwest corner of East Main Road and Union Street in Portsmouth. It was at this time the congregation began calling themselves the Union Society in order to unite rather than divide the Christian community.
To accommodate a growing congregation, a new church was built in 1865 at a cost of $7,000 under the direction of Reverend William Miller. The structure from 1824 was sold to Edward Sisson for $300. It was cut in half and moved to the corner of East Main and Sandy Point Avenue. Upon completion of the new building, the congregation began calling themselves once again the Christian Church of Portsmouth.
The congregation thrived in the latter half of the 19th century. In 1881, one-third of the congregation lived off of Aquidneck Island. Noted suffragist and poet Julia Ward Howe came and supplied the pulpit while visiting her summer home in Portsmouth.
Membership declined after World War I. The last service at the church was held in 1937.
On March 16, 1939, the 14 remaining members voted to donate the property to the Portsmouth Historical Society, which was established the year prior and in need of a permanent home.
The Christian Union Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior in 1974.
The large pipe organ in the corner of the assembly hall was made by the E. & G.G. Hook & Hastings Pipe Organ Company in Boston, Massachusetts. The organ was originally made for the Emmanuel Church in Newport, Rhode Island. The style of the nameplate near the keyboard indicates that the organ was built sometime between 1871 and 1881.
When the Emmanuel Church was undergoing modifications in 1903, the Christian Church purchased the organ for $300.
1810: Christian Church Of Portsmouth Formed & Began To Meet In Private Homes
1824: A small meetinghouse is constructed.
A small meetinghouse is constructed at the northwest corner of East Main Road and Union Street in Portsmouth
1865: Church building built.
A new church building is built at the same site at a cost of $7,000. The former meetinghouse is cut in half and moved to the Sisson farm along Glen Road.
1937: Last religious service held at the building.
1938: Portsmouth Historical Society established.