History

On November 5, 1740, the early settlers of Hollis, numbering 30 families, voted “that the first meeting house should be erected on Abraham Taylor’s land, about sixty roads southerly from said Taylor’s Dwelling House, on the highest knoll of land thereabouts, and that the burying place for the perish be adjoining the place now known for ye Meeting House.” It was 22 feet by 20 feet with 9 posts. A special meeting to vote was held on October 23, 1741 “to have one Glace Winder in the meeting house and to have it pind as soon as possible.”
At a meeting on January 17, 1743 it was unanimously voted to call a permanent minister to the church. The minister, Mr. Daniel Emerson of Reading, Massachusetts, was called to the pastorate. Emerson, a 27 year old graduate of Harvard, had been waiting for his call by working as a butler and continuing his theological studies as a graduate student. Mr. Emerson answered the call on March 4 and was ordained April 20, 1743.

The first meeting house proved too small and on August 13, 1746 a second larger church was erected. This building was 50 feet by 44 feet with 23 posts. Around the four sides of the interior was space for 20 family pews which were the seats of the town aristocracy. To help finance the building “pew ground” was sold with each pew to be built by the pew holder. Down the center of the building were long benches where the rest of the congregation would sit, men on one side, women on the other. In the two years that followed construction, parishioners were busy building their own pews and completing the rest of the building. In this same year the name of the church was changed from The Second Church of Dunstable to The Church of Christ of Hollis as a result from the church’s inclusion to the financial responsibilities of the newly incorporated town of Hollis.

At the town meeting in April 1767 the town voted, “that those persons that had taken pains to instruct themselves singing may have the fore seats below the men’s side.” This was the earliest known reference the parishioners had made to a choir. At the town meeting in 1784 it was, “voted that 12 feet of the hind body seat below the broad aisle be appropriated to the use of singers on condition that a certain number of them would give glass necessary to repair the windows.” For years later a town meeting followed up in saying, “that the ground now occupied by singers shall not be appropriated to any other use, and that the singers may be allowed to sing once a day without reading.”

The only means for warming the churches in colonial days were portable tin foot stoves. The younger members of the congregation were given the charge of carrying these stoves for the use and comfort of their parents and elders. Apparently the youngsters did not always take the stoves home after the service, ultimately causing a problem. At a town meeting in March of 1776 it was “voted that all stoves that shall be left in the meeting house shall be forfeited to the Saxion, Mr. John Atwell, and he may sell them is the owner shall refuse to pay half a pistereen for the first offense and double that sum for the second offense, and the said Artwell shall return the overplus after he is paid for his trouble for the use of the poor of the parish.”

On January 29, 1849 those attending town the meeting voted “to change the present position of the meeting house by turning the west end to the south.” The vote resulted in 29 yeas and 21 nays. They also voted “to remodel and fit up anew the meeting house for public worship, and for the purpose therewith connected; to retain the belfry part, and fill up corners of the belfry part, so it shall be as wide as the body of the house itself.” During this renovation the second floor gallery was replaced by an auditorium. When these building changes were made the town relinquished ownership of the churches first floor vestry and second floor auditorium.

In 1880 the building was shared by the town offices, the church, and the library. After the town hall was built in 1887, the Grange leased the church’s auditorium for 99 years at a cost of twenty dollars a year. The kitchen and dining room were used by the town, church, and grange for public dinners. Until its own building was erected in 1910 the Hollis Social Library was housed on the west side of the church.

On October 16, 1923 the meeting house was destroyed by fire. Rebuilding began immediately and it was decided not to raise money by selling pews as it was done in the past. At a meeting held on January 19, 1925 a vote was taken to form a corporation under the name “The First Congregational Church of Hollis, NH.”

On March 11, 1943 the constitution of the church was changed along with the title to “The Congregational Church of Hollis, NH.” In a meeting held on April 19, 1961 the church voted to “enter into the fellowship with the United Church of Christ.”
Following successful fund raising projects, including the sale of the Flagg Estate, a new addition was dedicated in 1965. This addition provided a new kitchen and Sunday School rooms, as well as church administrative offices and a study for the pastor. In 1999, the addition of an elevator and interior ramp made the church building accessible to all.