First Church (Daniel Low Building), 121 Washington St., 231 Essex St. Mall

First Church, established in 1629, was the first Protestant church in America. Rebecca Nurse and Giles Cory, two victims of the witchcraft hysteria in 1692, were members, and most of the Hathorne family also belonged to this church. Nathaniel's grandfather and grandmother were members; Hawthorne's mother, Elizabeth Clarke Manning Hathorne, joined First Church in 1806, and her children were baptized there. In the early 1800s, the church became Unitarian in its theology. In 1824, Charles W. Upham became associate pastor with John Prince, and after Prince's death in 1836, became pastor. He remained in this position until 1844 when he left the post because of illness. Margaret Moore points out in The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne that "Hawthorne wrote in Our Old Home that only fond memories of John Prince of First Church helped him retain 'a devout, though not intact nor unwavering respect for the entire fraternity of ministers'(CE 5:28)." (110). First Church was originally located in Town House Square, but in 1734, after a dispute between the minister, John Fisk, and some members of his congregation, Fisk and his supporters built a new First Church at 256 Essex St., a short distance from their original location. In 1772, the church broke into five different churches and rejoined in later years. This building was constructed in 1826; the second floor was used by First Church and the first floor was rented to shopkeepers. In 1874, the church was enlarged and extensively remodeled in the High Victorian Gothic style. In 1922, the First Church merged with North Church (Unitarian) and moved to the North Church building at 256 Essex St. Daniel Low and Company then acquired the property at 121 Washington St.
(courtesy of the Peabody Essex Museum; special thanks to Bryant F. Tolles, Jr.) close window