Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stone Church

The Stone Church, also known as the South Church, is located at 292 State Street, on the southwest corner of State and Church Streets.

Moses Woodward once owned the plot of land where the Stone Church stands today. On December 22, 1813, the worst fire in Portsmouth’s history started here. A female servant, angry with Woodward’s wife for confiscating some wine bottles, intentionally set fire to his barn. Conditions on that night were perfect for a firestorm, and by the time townspeople extinguished the blaze six hours later, almost every building on State Street from here to the Piscataqua River were destroyed. Large portions of Court Street and Daniel Street also burned.

The South Parish built the Stone Church between 1824-1826 as a replacement for the Old South Church on Meeting House Hill, where the South Meeting House is located today. It is constructed of Rockport granite.

Nathan Parker House
The first minister was remarkable Reverend Dr. Nathan Parker, who lived in the Nathan Parker House at 46 Livermore Street. After Reverend Parker’s death in 1833, Andrew P. Peabody preached here for 27 years, followed by Reverends James De Normandie in 1862 and Alfred Gooding in 1884.

During the 1850s, the parish made significant improvements and enlarged the building by moving the rear wall seventeen feet towards Court Street. South Church reopened on December 25, 1858.

Today, the South Church has a Unitarian Universalist congregation and two ministers: Reverends Chris Holton Jablonski and Lauren Smith.

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