St. John’s Catholic Church, Worcester, Massachusetts

Established in 1834, St. John’s Catholic Church is the oldest Catholic church in Worcester. Its current structure, designed by architect P.W. Ford in the Greek Revival style, was built in 1845 to house its 2,000 parishioners. Inside, however, the sanctuary is designed in the Romanesque Revival style with its notable simplified arches. The Church’s spiritual mission is “to combine the corporal and spiritual works of mercy and daily acts of charity for all”. Since its earliest days, St. John’s has reached out to serve the poor. With providing such programs as free meals to more than 1,000 people monthly, it is evident that the parishioners’ charge has not waned from its beginnings.

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.

South Church, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Completed in 1826, South Church also known as the “Stone Church” because of its granite exterior has been a Unitarian Universalist church since 1945. The building, which is thought to have been designed by Jonathan Folsom, is built in the Greek Revival style. Nevertheless, it should be noted that its current interior is in the Baroque style after an 1858 remodel. South Church is one of the first monumental granite buildings to be built in northern New England. On a plaque located on the facade of the building, it states that in 1717 Portsmouth’s first identified black family was baptized by South Church. With this in mind, it is fitting that the Unitarian Universalist church is housed in this very important landmark, as its mission in part celebrates “the worth and dignity of all people.”

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.