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1. First Unitarian Congregational Church (Church of the Saviour) founded 1833
2. Second Unitarian Society founded 1850
3. Third Unitarian Congregational Society, (Unity Chapel) founded 1867

First Unitarian Congregational Church [1] (Church of the Saviour), northeast corner of Pierrepont street and Monroe Place. Unitarian services were first held in Brooklyn, in 1833, at which time there were residing in the village, a half dozen or more families of avowed liberal religious views, some of whom (there being no church of their own in the place) were accustomed to attend the Presbyterian church in Cranberry street, while others, from sabbath to sabbath, crowed the river to hear the Rev. William Ware, pastor of the First Unitarian Church in New York, then worshiping in Chambers street. This, however, was accompanied by great hardship and inconvenience, and at the suggestion of Capt. John Frost (made to W. H. Cary and John Jewett, Jr., with whom, and members of their families, he was returning, in the ferry boat one sabbath, from Mr. Ware's church), steps were taken to establish Unitarianism in Brooklyn. On the 19th of June, 1833, by invitation, and at the residence (106 Nassau street), of Mr. Josiah Dow, Messrs. Seth Low, John Frost, W. H. Cary, Alexander H. Smith, Wm. H. Hale, Chas. Woodward, Henry Leeds, Thomas Woodward and Geo. Blackburn, assembled for counsel, and, at a second meeting, held at the same place, a week later, they were joined by Gco. S. Cary, P. G. Taylor, Richard W. Dow, James Walters and Joshua Jolford; and at a third meeting, July 31st, the number was increased to eighteen by the presence of George B. Archer and others. Most of these were heads of families, and having organized as a Unitarian society, held their first public services, on sabbath, August 17th, at Classical Hall, in Wasbington street. On the 31st of March, 1834, they extended a call to Rev. David Hatch Barlow, who had supplied their desk from the preceding September; and be was installed as pastor, on the 17th of September, 1834. In 1835, the society secured ampler accommodations by purchasing (for $8,000), the Second Presbyterian Church (now known as Gothic Hall), in Adams street; and, during the same year was incorporated as the First Unitarian Church of Brooklyn. In July, 1837, ill health compelled Mr. Barlow to resign his charge. He was a graduate of Harvard University, and first settled at Lynn, Mass., whence he came to Brooklyn. "He was a preacher and a poet, too, of no ordinary gifts. Able, cultured and graceful, he won sincere respect from his parishioners for his talents, as also their grateful and affectionate esteem for his devotion to their best interests." He was succeeded by the Rev. Frederick West Holland, who was ordained April 11, 1838, and labored energetically and devotedly, until his resignation, December 12th, 1841, although his ministry did not fully terminate until April I st, 1842. He was a graduate of Harvard, and of the Cambridge Divinity School, and by excellent natural gifts, varied intellectual attainments, earnest piety and indomitable energy was well fitted for the work to which be was called in life." Meanwhile, some disaffection which had arisen, ripened, on December 2d, 1840, in the formation, by a number of seceders, of a Second Society. On that date twenty-two persons met in the Brooklyn Lyceum, and as the result of their action public worship was held at the Lyceum lecture room, on the 3d of January, 1841, the sermon being by the Rev. William Ware. On the 18th and 25th of April following, the Rev. F. A. Farley supplied the pulpit, and, at the unanimous request of the new society, began his more permanent work here on the first sabbath of August, in the same year. The society then numbered forty-five families, most of whom bad withdrawn from the First Church, and on the Ist of November, 1841, it organized under the corporate name of the Second Unitarian Church of Brooklyn. Wm. H. Cary, Charles W oodward, Thomas A. Morrison, Geo. Collins, Ben. Blossom, Wm. K. Tucker, L. W. Thomas, Joshua Atkins and Joseph L. Brigham were chosen trustees, and these elected Wm. H. Cary, as president; George E. Cooke, secretary, and Joshua Atkins, treasurer.

As months passed, the membership of the First Church gradually diminished while that of the Second increased. And when, on the 27th of January, 1842, the Second Society, by resolution, expressed a willingness to unite with the First Church, and appointed a committee to confer with a like committee from the other church, their action was happily responded to on the part of the First. On the 22d of March, 1842, the two churches became merged in one and a new organization; Mr. Farley preached for the first time to the consolidated society, on the first sabbath in April ; and on the 19th, fifty-nine noble hearted met to cement the union. The title of the First Unitarian Congregational Church of Brooklyn wa's adopted by the society, and a new board of trustees was chosen, viz: Seth Low, [2] president; Wm. H. Cary, [3] Peter G. Taylor, David Felt, Charles M. Olcott, Luke W. Thomas, Joseph L. Lord, John Greenwood and George B. Granniss. Mr. Farley was unanimously chosen pastor; and on the 28th of October. a declaration of faith was adopted and subscribed by the members. Measures were, meanwhile, adopted for the erection of a new edifice ; a plot of land on the north-east corner of Pierrepont street and Monroe place secured and purchased; plans made by Minard Lefever, architect; and on the 24th of April, 1844, the new and elegant structure was consecrated to its appropriate now; its cost, inclusive of land, furniture, etc., being $34,949.61. The Church of the Saviour, as it was now called, continued to flourish, and Unitarianism began to be a power in Brooklyn; and, in 1850, a second Unitarian church was planted in South Brooklyn. In November, 1863, Dr. Farley preached his farewell sermon, after a pastorate of over twenty years; and his successor, Rev. A. P. Putnam, the present incumbent, was called to the pastorate, May 2d, 1864, and installed September 28th, of the same year.

In the fall of 1865, the society established its Furman Street Mission School, which is doing an excellent work among the poor and needy; and, about the same time, aided largely in the formation of the Brooklyn Liberal Christian Union, to whose support it annually contributes largely. In 1865-66, it erected the beautiful chapel which adjoins the church, at an expense of $20,000; besides spending, in 1866, $6,000, for repairs to the church. In 1867, feeling strong enough to colonize a good number of its families for the establishment of a new society of its faith in Central Brooklyn, it manifested its sympathy with the movement by giving, at the proper juncture, $10,000, for the erection of Unity Chapel, which was consecrated in December, 1868.

The Church of the Saviour has about two hundred and fifty communicants, over seventy of whom have united during the present pastorate ; a sabbath school of about twenty-five teachers, and one hundred and thirty pupils, and a Ladies Samaritan Society, organized during Mr. Holland's ministry; is entirely free from debt, and, possesses a property worth to-day, more than twice its original cost.

Second Unitarian Society, Clinton, corner of Congress street. At meetings held at the Brooklyn Institute on the 5th of November, 1850, and 26th of March, 1851, it was determined (seventeen persons uniting), to organize a new Unitarian society, and the first service in pursuance of that determination was held in the Female Academy, in Joralemon street, on sabbath, April 20th, the Rev. J. F. W. Ware, officiating for the day. Services were regularly continued, the desk being supplied by various ministers, until January 1, 1853, when the building was totally destroyed by fire. A sabbath school was opened in September, 1851; and on the 21st of June, 1852, the society was organized; meetings being held, after the destruction of the academy building, in the Brooklyn Institute until April, 1853, when a removal was made to the Athenaeum, then just completed. On the 13th of June, 1853, a call was extended to the Rev. Samuel Longfellow, a brother of the poet, Henry W., and a poet of merit himself, who was duly installed as pastor on the 26th of October following, and served earnestly and faithfully until April 29th, 1860, when he resigned for the purpose of seeking rest and opportunity for study abroad. In June, 1857, the New Chapel, as it has been familiarly named, was commenced, on the corner of Clinton and Congress streets, and was completed and occupied in March, 1858. Of a cruciform shape, in the Anglo-Italian style, with stained glass windows, richly ornamented inside, it is a very attractive building, accommodating about six hundred persons, together with a sabbath school room in the basement. During the same year a musical vesper service was arranged, which for many years appeared to be a valuable adjunct to the other services, but which was finally discontinued in 1868. On the 1st of July, 1861, the Rev. Nahor Augustus Staples, formerly of Mendon, Mass., but then of Milwaukie, Wis., was unanimously chosen to fill the vacant pulpit. He had, however, just joined the 6th Wisconsin Volunteers as chaplain, and it was not until he was compelled in the fall of the same year, by ill health, to resign his commission, that he came to Brooklyn, where he was installed over this congregation, on the 6th of November. Three years of earnest labor, during which the society grew and prospered, and the community was indelibly impressed with the influence of his life and example, closed his earthly career, on the 4th of February, 1864. In the following autumn, the present pastor, Rev. John White Chadwick, of Marblehead, Mau., a graduate of Cambridge Divinity School, a younger man than either of the church's preceding pastors, was called, and on the 21st of December, ordained as pastor.

Third Unitarian Congregational Society, (Unity Chapel), Classon Avenue, near Lefferts street. In response to an invitation publicly given by Rev. A. P. Putnam, thirteen residents of Central Brooklyn, of liberal convictions, met at the home of James Whiting, 292 Ryerson street, on the evening of September 30, 1867. In accordance with action taken at this meeting, religious services were held on the following sabbath, Oct. 6th, in an upper room over a fish market, on the corner of Classon and Fulton avenues Rev. Dr. F. A. Farley preaching in the morning to an audience of fifty persons, and Rev. A. P. Putnam in the evening to about the same number. On the evening of December 3d, 1867, over thirty persons, interested in the new movement, met at the hall on Classon avenue, and organized as The Third Unitarian Congregational Society of Brooklyn, N. Y.; the following gentlemen being chosen as trustees, viz: H. B. Shute, James Whiting, Robert Foster, G. B. Elkins, E. T. Fisher, David Baker, William Lombard, J. W. Cory and Joseph Slagg. On sabbath, Oct. 29, 1867, a sabbath school was organized at the hall; and, at the request of the society, R. Foster assumed the charge of the same. Seven classes were formed, comprising in all nine scholars; the membership now numbering about seventy-five, including officers. To the labors of Revs. E. J. Galvin and H. C. Badger, as supplies, during the earlier months of its existence and to the preaching of Rev. Robert 'C'ollyer, of Chicago, on Oct. 11, 1868: the society is largely indebted for the impetus and influence which the enterprise rapidly gained. Its expenses, during the three months preceding January 1, 1868, were defrayed by the First Unitarian Society, to the zeal said services of whose pastor, Rev. A. P. Putnam, under the blessing of God, the new organization most largely owes its origin and success. A subscription paper placed in circulation among his parishioners, in February, 1868, by this clergyman, secured a contribution of $10,000, to which the American Unitarian Association subsequently appropriated $5,000 additional, for the purpose of erecting a chapel for the use of the Third Societ . Seven lots were purchased on Classon avenue and Lefferts street, designs and plans for a chapel were contributed by Wm. Field & Son, and, on September 4th, the corner-stone was laid. The dedication services were held Dec. 9th, 1868; the completed building having cost, inclusive of lots, $25,716. The Rev, Stephen H. Camp, of Toledo, Ohio, was installed over this church, as its first pastor, Oct. 6th, 1869.


[1] Rev. Dr. A. P. Putnam's Sermon at the Commemoration Services, April 25,1869, on the 25th anniversary of the Consecration of the Church and the Installation of the first Minister, etc, BACK

[2] Seth Low was born at Gloucester, Mass., March 29th, 1782; prepared for college under Rev. Dr. Abiel Abbott, of Beverly, Mass., and entered Harvard College, with the class which graduated in 1808, but was obliged by a severe affection of the eyes, to leave college in the third year of his course, and to relinquish the hopes he had cherished, of entering the ministry. He followed the drug business for many years in Salem, Mass., where he had married; but finally failed, with no stain upon his reputation in consequence, but, on the contrary, with the heartiest respect, sympathy and confidence of all who knew him, and removed, in 1828, to Brooklyn, with the hope of retrieving his broken fortunes. He established himself in business at New York; and, during his twenty-five years' career there, was distinguished for his purity and dignity of character, his rare wisdom and unsullied honor, his unselfish, affectionate disposition, and his earnest Christian piety. With the educational, benevolent and religious interests of Brooklyn, he was eminently identified; and died here, June 19, 1853, on the twentieth anniversary of the day when he met with nine others, at the house of Josiah Dow, for the first consultation concerning Unitarian worship in this place. BACK

[3] William H. Cary was born in Boston, Mass., December 23, 1798, and died in Brooklyn, February 27, 1861. He entered into business in his native city, but, while yet a young man, came to seek his fortune in New York, and soon afterward took up his residence in Brooklyn. From small beginnings he arose to be one of the foremost merchants of New York; 11 his name unblemished, his disposition kind and humane, his course and conduct elevating the standard of mercantile character, his word ever becoming his bond, his industry almost beyond parallel." He was one of Brooklyn's most useful citizens, and a steadfast and consistent Christian. After his death, his widow, carrying out what she accidentally discovered to be his purpose while living, presented to the Church of the Saviour, the munificent gift of $10,000. See, also, ChrWian Inquirer, of March, 9,1861. BACK