Architecture ~ Chepachet Baptist Church

Chepachet Free Will Baptist Church
1213 Putnam Pike
Chepachet, Rhode Island

During the Preservation Conference, I attended a talk about the history of the Chepachet Meeting House (now the Chepachet Free Will Baptist Church).

The building and congregation have a long and storied history, as does the architecture of New England meeting houses in general.

Chepachet Free Will Baptist Church
The congregation gathered in 1822 and occupied the Meeting House, which was built in 1821 by the Proprietors of the Chepachet Meeting House, who still own the building today.

The building is designed in the Federal style, which emphasizes symmetry and balance. The architect was Elias Carter. Carter also designed churches and public buildings up and down the east coast, from New Hampshire to Georgia.

The sanctuary can hold about people. 135 on the main floor, and another 100 in the balconies.

The building was expanded by adding a vestry in 1892. In 1840 the pew pattern was modified, and in the late 1800s, the traditional high pulpit was removed to allow placement of the E.Wl. Lane tracker pipe organ that stands there now.

stairs to the balconies

balcony seats

view from the balcony
The bell in the steeple was cast by George Holbrook in 1822. From what I could find, Hollbrook was the third major bellfounder in America, and an apprentice of Paul Revere. Hollbrook bells are known for their musical quality. The Chepachet Baptist Bell rings at F#.

One of the building's claims to fame was its proximity to major events in the Dorr Rebellion of 1842. The rebellion was in favor of suffrage for men who didn't own property, and it divided the congregation by pro and con. It's perhaps not coincidental that another church in Chepachet was founded at about that time, but many of the church's members were "Dorrites."

Today, the church still holds services and has an active congregation. It's a major source for historical information in Chepachet, and also hosts free music concerts in the summertime.


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