Artifacts & Documents: Pictures and Paintings

Fourth Meeting House, Deerfield, Massachusetts

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Edward Hitchcock's nephew Nathaniel Hitchcock (1812-1900) made this sketch from memory of the Fourth Meeting House in Deerfield, Massachusetts, when he was eighteen years old. The meetinghouse was built in 1729 to served civic and religious purposes. Religious services were held in meeetinghouses on Sundays and on other days of the week the buildings were used for other purposes such as town meetings and lyceum lectures. 

Edward attended services here as a child and later with Orra. He would have witnessed the controversy over theology and the ensuing division amongst residents, including his own family, that took place here when the Unitarian Reverend Samuel Willard became minister in 1807.

The town remodeled Deerfield's meetinghouse in 1768—it was refined to look more like what we refer to as a "church" today. A steeple, bell tower, and clock were added, but by the time Nathaniel Hitchcock created this sketch, these refinements were already out of date. A new brick Greek revival-style meetinghouse was built on this spot in 1824. Meetinghouses, usually the largest buildings in town, often occupied the highest point of land to insure visibility from a distance and to act as landmarks for travelers.  

Nathaniel Hitchcock
paper, ink
Accession #:
Courtesy of:
Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association/Memorial Hall Museum