Old Ship Meetinghouse
- Also Known As: Old Ship Church
- Address: Main St
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