The first mention of a meeting house in the Ecclesiastical Society is in the record of a meeting held December 21, 1727: “It is further voted that the meeting house that is begun in this sd [archaic] north Society in Groton by way of Contribution is the said Society’s meeting house.”
On March 11, 1728, a sum of forty pounds was voted toward converging and enclosing the meeting house. In July of the same year, Capt. John Morgan was directed to employ a workman “to glaze our meeting house.” Very little can now be learned about the exact size or arrangement of this first church building. Rev. Tuttle described the building in 1859, saying it “was in shape, like many of the meeting houses of former days, with the main door on the front side, with the pulpit opposite to it on the other side of the house, and with a door at each end, and having nothing in the form of either porch or steeple.”
In 1729, a pulpit was built. In December of that same year, it was voted that “the Women Shall Set on the East Side of the Meeting House.”
For many of the early years, there was no inside plastering except to the right and left of the pulpit, and it was open to the ridge. The timbers of the house above the ground floor would all have been seen, and they were of huge dimensions. The ground floor was sold to individuals and they erected pews for their accommodation, to be held as their property. They were later required to “seal” and plaster the walls next to their pews.
That the meeting house had a gallery is evident by a Society vote on June 21, 1739, to levy a tax “to Build a Pew for ye Minister, Build Two Pairs of Stairs up into ye Gallery, Lay ye Gallery floor Round ye East, South & West Sides.”
In 1745, people with windowless pews were given permission to “Cut Windows against their Pews & to Make & Maintain Said Windows on their own cost and charge.”
Sadly, from 1772 – 1810, the church was nearly vacant. No “settled” pastor was hired, and interest waned. Only minimal care was taken of the building by the Ecclesiastical Society. When Rev. Tuttle was finally hired, the meeting house “had truly become a waste place” (his words).
This building must have been a very open and cold place for church services during the 116 years of its existence. There was no reference to any equipment for heating, nor any mention of wood being furnished for fuel, until 1826. A nearby resident during the Revolutionary War once told Rev. Tuttle that the church was “a forsaken place–forsaken, except by cattle, which, feeding on the common in summer, entered it as a place of shade.”
This first building served as a meeting house until 1843, when it was taken down (under cover of darkness!) to build a new meeting house (our current building).