Tours of historic downtown to celebrate UUCM’s Tricentennial

Marblehead Painting
“Marblehead” By Maurice Prendergast [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Celebration of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead’s Three Hundredth Anniversary begins its fall program with a walking tour of the old town. Teaming with Old North Church, who is celebrating the 300th anniversary of Rev. Barnard’s installation, the tour will include comments about how our congregation separated from Old North, and comments on the buildings that were already in place in the early 1700s. Marblehead historian Judy Anderson will conduct the tours.

Over two weekends in October, the tour will illustrate how Marblehead evolved geographically southward, from the tip of the mainland peninsula around the Little Harbor at the foot of the Burial Hill, down along the main harbor, to what would become the center of town by the early and then the mid-1700s. The tour will highlight the importance of the Old Town House as a significant early civic building in America. This venerable historic and architecturally high-style structure will be viewed especially in relation to the two meeting houses that preceded it

The walking tour is offered in honor of 300th anniversaries for the town’s three early churches: Marblehead’s Old North Church Congregational (originally the “First Church,”gathered in 1635 and officially established in 1684), whose most notable and long-serving minister arrived in 1715 and became a catalyst for revival of the overseas fish trade that created Marblehead’s economic prosperity up to the Revolution; the Unitarian Universalist Church (formerly the “Second Church,” established in 1716), which became Unitarian a century later under a progressive young minister who championed essential social services for the community; and a third church, St. Michael’s Anglican (then Episcopal after the Revolution), which marked its Tercentenary last year.

The two 18th-century Congregational churches were one until 1716, when two capable candidates for an associate pastor position prompted a division of the congregation. One would lead a new church in the rapidly growing community. Two decades later, he would be appointed president of Harvard College and would serve there for thirty-two years. The other would serve the founding congregation and the community for more than half a century. They would die within a year of each other, in 1769 and 1700, at age 80 and 89. But each witnessed the full flourishing of the commercial seaport whose well-being both had nurtured and to which each had come exactly three centuries ago.

Tour participants will gain an understanding of the evolution of the town’s built environmentfrom the 1600s to the 1840s. Beyond that, they will learn more about Marblehead’s social and architectural history within the context of civic, spiritual and humanitarian developments during the dynamic town’s first two centuries.

Tour Details

The same 90-minute walking tour will be given four times over two weekends. No reservations are needed.

DATES: Saturday, October 3 at 11:00 a.m.; Sunday, October 4 at 4:00 p.m.; Saturday, October 17 at 9:00 a.m.; Sunday, October 18 at noon.

WHERE: Tours will start at the gazebo on top of Old Burial Hill. End at the UU Church at 28 Mugford Street. (Important note: Sunday, October 18 only, meet at the UU Church, 28 Mugford St., and end at the Burial Hill, where the town’s government and church congregations began.)

COST: Suggested contribution of $5 or $10 to benefit the Unitarian Universalist Church, the Old North Church, or a website about Marblehead architecture. (Participants can choose.)

For more information, call 781-631-1762, email, or visit