Unitarian Church

This postcard image shows an early view of the Unitarian Church. The presence of the 1889 addition (everything to the right of the spire), but absence of any development on High Street in the rear suggests that this photograph may have been taken not long after its completion. By 1895, the area behind the church would be dominated by apartment buildings and the Empire Theatre.

Beginnings and Expansion

The Unitarian Church experienced a slow start in Holyoke, with small but short-lived congregations popping up three times between 1849 and 1857. By 1874, momentum had grown and the church incorporated itself once more. It received a grant of land from the Holyoke Water Power Company in 1875 and completed a chapel in the early spring of 1876, just about 6 months later. In 1889, the congregation completed a $9,000 addition to their original $6,500 building, which slightly more than doubled it in size. By the turn of the 20th century, about 85 people were active within the congregation.

The Unitarian Church circa 1895. High Street is beginning to rise in the background. Image source: Holyoke Past and Present (1895)


The fate of the church becomes less clear starting around 1915. In June of that year, the congregation accepted a $50,000 offer for the property from the YMCA. It is unclear what the YMCA did with it, as the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company built its offices on the site in 1931. On June 3, 1918, services stopped altogether when Reverend A.H. Coar left for a humanitarian trip with the YMCA to worn-torn France.

The New England Telephone and Telegraph Company built their offices on the site of the Unitarian Church in 1931. The building still stands today and is occupied by Verizon. Image source: Holyoke History Room