May 9, 2019

American Congregational Building

Next to the Massachusetts State House is a building with some unusual architecture. This is the home of the American Congregational Library.

American Congregational Building

Six Things I learned about the American Congregational Library.

  • The Congregational Library began in 1853 with 56 books, but they didn't have a physical building until 1898. (The original 56 books are still in the collection!)
  • In 1957, the Congregation headquarters moved from Boston to New York - leaving lots of office space. Over the years Non-profits had occupied the space.
  • On August 3, 2017 the Association sold it 14 Beacon Street to Faros Properties for $25.4 million. The library will stay in the building. The money from the sale will be used to maintain the reading room. The sale may impact business that occupy the above floors.
  • The library is home to New England's largest Clergy Obituary Database - Researchers can search over 30,000 obituary listings for clergy and missionaries spanning more than three centuries. Great way to learn more about clergy and missionaries that might have started your Congregational church.
  • This is a interesting stop for Boston Tourist as you can learn a lot of about how religion shaped this nation.
  • Building is not on the Boston Historic Landmarks - there has never been a petition to preserve the building architecture.

Did you know: A Massachusetts law of 1659 punished offenders with a hefty five shilling fine for celebrating Christmas. It would be interesting to read up on documents from that time period about this - something that can only be done at the American Congregational Library.

Congregational Building Sign
Sign on the Building

Building Plaque

This is the transcript of the sign on the building:

The primary purpose of this building, The Property of the American Congregational Association, is to provide housing for Congregational Societies and other religious and Charitable Organizations. It is the Fifth home of the Congregational Library. The building was dedicated on December 21, 1898 to the last ideals lived by those First Congregationalists to settle on American Shores.

The carvings above represent four of those ideals:

  • Rule under law by consent of the Governed - The signing of the Mayflower Compact, 1620.
  • Worship According to the Conscience - the First Sabbath on Clark's Island, 1620.
  • Education for Leadership - Act of the General Court of Massachusetts Appropriating Funds for a "Schoole or Colledge," Harvard, 1636
  • Community Witness - The Apostle Eliot preaching among the Indians. 1646.

Finding the American Congregational Building

The American Congregational Building is located next to the Massachusetts State House. It's located on the second floor of 14 Beacon Street.

The library collection is open to the public.

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