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The Waterside Parish Meetinghouse

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In colonial times, there were two common venues for the community to gather: the parish meetinghouse and the "publick house" or tavern. In the Third Parish of Newbury --- later established as the separate town of Newburyport in 1764 --- ye Waterside Parish Meetinghouse stood prominently in Market Square, with the old Wolfe Tavern just steps away.

While there were other settings for secular town meeting --- among these town hall on what is now State Street, Washington Hall on Green Street, and later the Market House (now the Firehouse) --- the Waterside Meetinghouse figures prominently in town records, well before its dedication on June 25, 1725 until its demolition on September 28, 1801.

That prominence is evoked by this well-known print of Market Square at the turn of the 19th Century, depicting the Waterside Meetinghouse with its steeple standing as a landmark to those arriving home to port. Note that the Middle Shipyard is situated directly at the meetinghouse door and the Ship is on the stocks. Once extending from where the Firehouse now stands to the low water mark, that community shipyard is now infilled and called Market Landing Park. As a frame of reference, the old Wolfe Tavern was located but a block away, on the westerly side of what was called Fish Street (now State Street) and the lower corner of Threadneedle Alley.

It takes mere e-Motion --- just a little imagination to hear the Meetinghouse bell or the town crier, "Hear ye! Hear ye!" A little imagination and a little technology. The ringing parish bells are produced courtesy of the Sound of Bells wave file. Can you hear the voice of the town crier? "Something more Coming!"


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