Our Meeting House

First Parish building in 1770

Our History

First Parish has a rich history that extends back to the roots of this community. Our congregation dates to 1750 and built its first church on the Kennebunk River. The church was rebuilt on the current site in 1774 and expanded in 1803 including the tower and steeple. A landmark today, it was for many years the center of government and social life in Kennebunk. The building housed not only Kennebunk’s first church but also the original town hall and library. It has served as a hub for activities and community groups throughout its history, a tradition we carry on to this day. The church provides a meeting place for self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, art lessons, tai-chi, yoga, meditation groups, clubs, musical events, and public forums.

You can peruse about our inheritance and how First Parish fit into this shipbuilding town during its founding. This homestead has an evolution in itself and is a must read for structural buffs. We also have history with our ministers, which dates back to 1743. It is available in two segments; 1743 - 1980 and 1981 - 2013.

Side church view of steeple

Paul Revere Bell

Thomas Eaton designed the building with a bell tower and steeple in the front. In 1804, he installed a 1,017-pound bell made in Paul Revere's foundry. The cast inscription on the bell reads: Revere & Son Boston 1803. The bell hangs from a headstock (a large wooden wheel & structure) and is swung by hand via a pull-rope, which extends to the front vestibule. Children love to help ring it before services. The bell is connected to the clock and also strikes the hour of the day.

For those of you who wish to know more detail, please select here.

E. Howard Round-Top Clock

A clock was first installed in the church tower in 1859, and then replaced with the E. Howard Clock in 1883. For many years it had been disabled due to multiple problems. A project team was formed and charged with rebuilding and repairing all the time-keeping mechanisms and bell-ringing apparatus to bring it back to life and regular use.

Now fully restored, the clock has the same level of reliability as it did when first made. It requires regular inspection and cleaning. In addition, the clock's room in the tower has been improved to shelter the mechanism and to keep the floor structure from shaking when the bell strikes the hour. The clock team expects it to last another 100 years.

For those of you who wish to know some more detail, please select here.

Hook & Hastings Organ  

The First Parish organ was installed in 1900. Resisting all suggestions to modernize it, the congregation has cared for this fine tracker instrument, and it has become a pilgrimage site for organ purists visiting Maine. In 1985, a complete restoration was accomplished by David E. Wallace, organ builder. Space was found in the original design for 12 oboe pipes which had never been installed. These new pipes now bring our instrument to its fullest power and balance, much to the excitement of all who play and enjoy its sound.

For those of you who wish to know some more detail, please select here.

First Parish Preservation Foundation

The First Parish Preservation Foundation is a non-profit corporation dedicated to preserving the historic building that now houses First Parish. The building, one of the finest examples of Federal period architecture in Kennebunk, is treasured by the entire community. Foundation Trustees and supporters are from the community, and are not necessarily members of the church.

With the help of the foundation, over $1 million has been invested in the building over the last ten years. Projects have restored the steeple, replaced the rare Trompe l’oeil ceiling in the sanctuary, and restored the antique steeple clock. Important work has been done, but there is much more to do.

The Foundation encourages support from all community members. Donations are tax-exempt.

Visit the FPPF Website

Renting the Space

The church building serves dozens of community groups not related to the religious activities of the church. It is also available for private events and weddings.

If you are interested in renting one of our rooms, please print and fill out the linked contract and submit it to our administrator. You may call her at (207) 985-3700 or email her at uukennebunkoffice@gmail.com to find out about available times and spaces, make special arrangements, and request a reservation.

Download our Rental Form