All Souls' Unitarian Church is the legal successor of the Mount Pleasant Congregational Society. This had its beginning in a meeting held at the house of Enoch Bartlett, Feb. 3, 1845.
On the 6th of May the proposed subscription of $15,000 was reported taken in shares of $100 each, and a Building "Committee was appointed, consisting of Messrs. Winslow Lewis, Walter Farnsworth, Lincoln Fearing, J. S. Sleeper, and A. D. Williams. On July 26, 1846, the new church, at the corner of Dudley and Greenville Streets, was announced as completed, at a cost of $16,000 for land and building, and was dedicated in August. The society was incorporated Sept. 10, 1846.
The first minister, Rev. William R. Alger, was ordained Sept. 8, 1847, Rev. S. K. Lothrop giving the sermon. There were then thirty families in the parish. He resigned Dec. 15, 1854, and was succeeded by the Rev. Alfred P. Putnam, who was ordained Dec. 19, 1855, and resigned May 22, 1864; by the Rev. Charles J. Bowen, who was installed Sept. 10, 1865, and died April 10, 1870; by the Rev. Carlos C. Carpenter, who was installed Dec. 1, 1870, and resigned Oct. 19, 1879; and by the Rev. William H. Lyon, who began as acting pastor Sept. 17, 1880, and whose formal installation took place Nov. 20, 1881. The chapel was built in 1858, and occupied September 7, the contract price being $1,661. It was enlarged in 1871, at a cost of $2,900, including the pastor's study. The organ was bought early in 1865 for $4,000. In 1874, the church was extensively repaired and changed, at very heavy expense, the amount of which cannot now be ascertained. The officers of the society, so far as can be ascertained, have been: Chairmen of Standing Committee, J. N. Daniell, T. H. Bell, J. L. Brigham, C. L. Damrell; Treasurers, J. E. Russell, Leonard Ware, J. M. B. Reynolds, C. L. Damrell, H. H. Souther, W. H. Ellison, W. H. Yarney, W. C. Hunneman. Especial mention should be made of the long service of Mr. Charles E. Grant, who was elected secretary of the subscribers May 6, 1845, and was clerk until May 12, 1884, Walter S. Frost succeeding him.
The condition of the society, though rising sometimes into prosperity, cannot be said to have been on the whole free from struggle. It was often in debt, liberating itself only by generous and earnest effort. In 1880, its mortgages amounted to $10,000; but in October, 1883, $5,500 of this was paid. But the rapid change in the character of the neighborhood, following that of the whole South End, leading to the rapid removal of its members and an increasing annual deficit, gave warning that some vigorous remedy must be applied.
On Nov. 11, 1886, at a meeting of the owners and renters of pews held in the chapel, the minister broached for the first time the proposal to build a new church in a new locality, and, upon a map drawn upon a blackboard, pointed out the desirability of the corner of Warren Street and Elm Hill Avenue. The meeting was evidently in favor of a change; but no action was taken. An association of men was formed later, to raise money to buy a lot, Messrs. Damrell, Loring, and M. E. Ware being made trustees. At a meeting of this association, November 28, the present location was fixed upon. On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1888, it was found that about $2,200 was still lacking to complete the purchase of the land, and an offering was made at once which amounted to nearly §3,500, about $10,000 having been previously raised by subscription. This sealed the success of the plan ; and the old church property was sold on July 20 for $18,000. Four days later ground was broken for the new church. The corner-stone was laid October 29, addresses being made by Rev. Messrs. E. E. Hale, D.D., De Normandie, the minister, and Mr. C. K. Nichols, Chairman of the Building Committee.
Service was held during the succeeding church year in Fauntleroy Hall, where congregation and Sunday-school grew rapidly; and, while the former members generously contributed their pew-rents as before, the new added substantial contributions by the envelope system. The new Parish House was occupied for worship Sept. 15, 1S89, and the church was dedicated October 6 by minister and congregation in responsive reading, assisted by the Rev. Messrs. C. G. Ames, H. N. Brown, J. De Normandie, C. R. Eliot, E. E. Hale, D.D., B. Herford, and M. J. Savage, while Mr. C. K. Nichols, Chairman of the Building Committee, delivered the keys to Mr. C. L. Damrell, Chairman of the Standing Committee of All Souls' Unitarian Church. To this corporation, formed Feb. 11, 1889, almost entirely out of the members of the old society, the property of the Mount Pleasant Congregational Society had been transferred October 5, on condition that it "carefully preserve in its archives all records and documents relating to the past history of this Mount Pleasant Congregational Church which shall come into its possession or be placed in its custody, and shall, so far as possible, consider that the history of this Mount Pleasant Congregational Church is continued in the new organization."
The Standing Committee of the Mount Pleasant Society at the time of the transfer were C. L. Damrell, Chairman, H. S. Bean, W. A. Couthouy, C. W. Eaton, W. H. Ellison, Anna S. Foster, W. H. Kilby, H. H. Souther, W. H. Varney, W. C. Hunneman, Treasurer, W. S. Frost, Clerk.
1. "History", All Souls' Unitarian Church, The Parish Book, 1889-90, Roxbury, Mass., pages 3-5.
See AlsoAll Souls' Unitarian Church 1889-90 Parish Book