First Baptist Church in America
75 North Main Street
Providence, Rhode Island, 02803
The First Baptist Church in America is the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island, also known as the First Baptist Meetinghouse.
It is the oldest Baptist church congregation in the United States, founded in 1638 by Roger Williams. The present church building was erected in 1774–75 and held its first meetings in May 1775.
When it was built in 1774–75, the current meetinghouse represented a dramatic departure from the traditional Baptist meetinghouse style. It was the first Baptist meetinghouse to have a steeple and bell, making it more like Anglican and Congregational church buildings. The builders were part of a movement among Baptists in the urban centers of Boston, Newport, New York, and Philadelphia to bring respectability and recognition to Baptists.
Construction began on the building in the summer of 1774, and it was the biggest building project in New England at the time. Due to the closure of the Massachusetts ports by the British as punishment for the Boston Tea Party, out-of-work ship builders and carpenters came to Providence to work on the meetinghouse.
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