United Baptist Church, John Clarke Memorial, Newport, Rhode Island

Exiled from Massachusetts Colony in 1637 due to religious beliefs, Dr. John Clarke, a medical doctor and Baptist minister, relocated to what is now known as the State of Rhode Island, which he helped co-found. In the spring of 1638, he and other exiles from Massachusetts gathered to form what is now known as the United Baptist Church. Its current structure, built in 1846, is constructed in the Greek Revival style and its sanctuary reflects the simple elegance of a New England meetinghouse with its high vaulted ceiling and pews. The United Baptist Church not only serves as a place of worship for the Baptist community, but acts as a memorial for Dr. John Clarke. Clarke, an advocate for religious freedom and author of the 1663 Rhode Island charter wrote in it, “that no person within the said colony, at any time hereafter shall be any wise molested [harassed], punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion in matters of religion, and do not actually disturb the civil peace of our said colony.” Clarke remained a pastor at the church until his death in 1676.

The First Baptist Church in America, Providence, Rhode Island

Gathered by Roger Williams in 1638, The First Baptist Church in America is the first and longest running Baptist church congregation in the United States. The present home of the First Baptist Church is currently housed in its third building. Completed in 1775, the structure’s architectural style combines Georgian with the traditional New England meetinghouse style with its plain walls, clear glass windows, and dominant pulpit. The lack of religious symbols follows iconoclastic Baptist thought, which regard all symbols, even the cross, as icons and idols. It is the first Baptist meetinghouse to have a steeple and bell in an effort by eighteenth century Baptist advocates to bring greater respectability and recognition to their faith. Roger Williams, the founder of this church and a significant campaigner for religious freedom, was in-part responsible for Rhode Island being a unique haven for religious liberty in the seventeenth century.

Thomaston Bapstist Church, Thomaston, Maine

Founded in 1816, the Thomaston Baptist Church met for nearly twenty years at a temporary site until its current home in downtown Thomaston was constructed in 1837. Originally built in the Greek Revival style, the structure assimilated the styles of the time combining Gothic Revival and Victorian influences when it was fully renovated in 1879. Illuminating its bright, spartan interior, the stained glass windows were generously funded by a prominent local family during the renovation when funds fell short. In 1992, lightning tragically damaged the Church’s steeple. The altruism of the community once again emerged when money to replace the steeple was raised by all religious groups within Thomaston—upholding the philanthropic spirit of its community’s past.