Gathered in 1696


First Parish in Waltham dates from 1696 and has one of the oldest religious charters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its first physical structure, erected in 1696, was located in the neighborhood of the present John Brewers Tavern on Main Street near or beyond the present Watertown line.  The location proved unsuitable, and in 1722 a disused building was purchased from Newton, dismantled, moved to a new site near the present Lyman Estate, and re‑assembled. This was the first church in Waltham. The Rev. Warham Williams was its first preacher, and the Rev. Jacob Cushing was its second.

In 1767‑68 the congregation outgrew their building, and built a larger church across the street on the triangle formed by Lyman Street and the two branches of Beaver Street. Hence it became known as “The Church on the Triangle.”

In 1839 two Unitarian Societies decided to merge. They chose a new location, formerly known as “Col. Townsend’s potato field,” and built the first church on this present site. It was a very simple building but in 1867 it was enlarged and improved.

In 1932 a devastating fire destroyed the Sanctuary and Steeple and did some damage to the Parish Hall.  The following year, in 1933, the Church as we know it today, was built on the same foundation.

In 1958, First Parish in Waltham and the First Universalist Society of Waltham consolidated to form our present First Parish Church in Waltham, Universalist-Unitarian.

The history of First Parish was documented at length in the book authored by Betty Castner titled “Tercentennial History of the First Parish in Waltham, 1696-1996”. An updated edition was written for our Tercentenary in 2022.  You can order a copy here.