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Old Ship Meetinghouse

  • Also Known As: Old Ship Church

  • Address: Main St
  • Travel Genus: Sight
  • Sight Category: Building

Some authorities contend that this church, also known as the Meeting House, erected in 1681, is the oldest English church in continuous use in America. The major rival for this distinction is the Newport Parish Church (St Luke's) in Smithfield, Va. Old Ship Church is certainly the earliest of New England's churches, and it is a striking survivor of the Puritan settlement of Massachusetts in the 17th century.

The earliest settlement within the bounds of the present town of Hingham dates from 1633, and the major period of settlement began in 1635, when a party arrived under the leadership of the Reverend Peter Hobart and soon built the first meetinghouse. The present structure was erected in 1681, according to tradition by ships' carpenters. This tradition, plus the look-out, or captain's walk, surrounding the belfry, and the curved roof timbers which give the interior the appearance of an inverted ship's hull, all probably contributed to the church's name.

For more than a century following its construction, the church was used for town meetings and village gatherings. In 1791, when the congregation voted to raze it and erect a new church, it narrowly escaped destruction. Fortunately, this move was reconsidered, and the church continued to serve its congregation without interruption. - NPS



Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
Y/M/D Person Association Description Composition Food Event
1681/00/00 Puritans Owners Old Ship Meetinghouse is built under the leadership of the Reverend Peter Hobart.
1681/00/00 Samuel Lincoln Contributor Old Ship Meetinghouse is built under the leadership of the Reverend Peter Hobart.
1682/00/00 Rev John Norton Ministry Rev John Norton leads the first service at the Old Ship Meetinghouse.

Data »

Particulars for Old Ship Meetinghouse:
Area of Significance Architecture
Criteria Architecture-Engineering
Sight Category Building
Area of Significance Exploration-settlement
Structural Design Type King Post Truss
Level of Significance National
Owner Private
Historic Use Religious Property

US National Registry of Historic Places Data »

Accurate at time of registration:

Registry Name:
Registry Address:
Registry Number: 66000777
Resource Type:
Owner: Private
Architect: unknown
Architectural Style: Other
Attribute: King post truss
Other Certification: Designated National Landmark, National Landmark boundary approved
Nominator Name: National Historic Landmark
Level of Significance: National
Area of Significance: Exploration-settlement, Architecture
Applicable Criteria: Architecture-Engineering
Criteria Consideration: Religious property
Period of Significance: 1650-1699, 1700-1749, 1750-1799
Significant Year: 1681, 1729, 1775
Historic Function: Religion
Historic Sub-Function: Religious structure
Current Function: Religion
Current Sub-Function: Religious structure

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