Needham History Center & Museum Needham History Center & Museum, Needham Massachusetts 02492

24. the First Parish Church

The First Parish Church just after its move to Dedham Avenue, circa 1880. The Kimball School on School Street is visible in the background.

The first organized parish in Needham was formed as a result of the proclamation separating Needham from Dedham on November 6, 1711. The legal definition of a Town in Massachusetts was a church, a school, and the means (taxes) to pay the Minister. Therefore, the church was by law an essential part of the town governance.

The church was originally located in the old town center, at the corner of Nehoiden Street and Central Avenue (see Site #10). The current (third) structure, which dates to 1836, was lifted and moved to the corner of Great Plain and Dedham Avenues in 1878 after the advent of the railroad caused the town center to shift to its present location. The bell in its steeple, which still rings today, was cast by Paul Revere in 1811 for the Needham Centennial.

The church’s recent renovations restored the historic sanctuary and expanded its program space. In keeping with its mission of stewardship, the new additions were designed to reduce energy usage by 50% – making this the first house of worship in Massachusetts to earn the EPA’s Energy Star rating.

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