Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory - Massachusetts


Townsend United Methodist Church

Townsend United Methodist Church, Mian Street, Townsend, Middlesex County, Mass (42.518706, -70.897459)

Primary Phase Felling Dates: Very early spring 1767, Winter 1768/9, and Winter 1769/70

Braces 1679, 1700, 1766(16C, 16¼C); King posts (2/4) 1768(15C), 1769(11C); Post 1769*34C). Site Master 1577-1769 TMC (t = 7.78 BOSTON01; 5.08 RHM; 4.01 PHD-1)

In 1769, townspeople voted not to repair the old meeting house as approved in 1763, but to build a new one. To settle the debate as to the location of the new house, three "disinterested" men, who happened to be respected physicians in the towns of Hollis, New Hampshire, Lunenburg and Groton, were asked to decide the location. They chose a site sixteen feet from the old meeting house by what is now Meeting House Hill Road off of Highland Street (Sawtelle 1878, 138). The new building was to be sixty feet by forty-five feet in dimensions. During the summer of 1771, the building was clapboarded and the doors and their frames and the window frames were painted (though apparently not the clapboards) (Sawtelle 1878, 143). The structure was completed in time for a child to be baptised in the meeting house on Oct. 27, 1771.

The location of the meeting house proved unsatisfactory to many and in 1798, the town meeting voted "to find the center of the town and say where the meeting house ought to stand (Sawtelle 1878, 145)." In 1804, the structure was moved to its current site and renovated. Although the tower and spire are integrated into the main structural frame of the church, the first bell was installed until the building was moved in 1804.

In 1852 the Methodists purchased the building from the Unitarians. They rotated the building ninety degrees, floored the meeting hall over at the gallery level, and renovated the interior (Sawtelle 1878, 147). The town leased the lower floor for a town hall until 1894. At some point, the building was, like the Groton building, stuck by lightening; one of the king posts being charred and split at the top.

Miles, D H, Worthington, M J, and Grady, A A, 2002 "Development of Standard Tree-Ring Chronologies for Dating Historic Structures in Eastern Massachusetts Phase II", Oxford Dendrochronology Laboratory unpublished report 2002/6




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Oxford Tree-Ring Laboratory

Michael Worthington
Jane Seiter, Ph.D

25 E. Montgomery St.
Baltimore, MD 21230