Item #7779 Meeting House at Auction.…The Meeting House of the South Parish Society in Andover.

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Meeting House at Auction.…The Meeting House of the South Parish Society in Andover.

Andover [Mass.], 30 April 1860. Illustrated broadside, 19.75” x 15”. CONDITION: Old folds, separations along folds, and tears, with corresponding repairs with document repair tape on verso.

Printed over a century after the north and south parishes of Andover split in 1708, this broadside announces the auction of the South Parish Society’s meeting house. Church records reveal that, beginning in 1845, “Various attempts” had been made “to remove, reconstruct the old, as also to build a new church” (Mooar). This auction likely raised funds for the new meeting house, which was constructed later the same year (Bailey). The old meeting house, whose “conditions of sale, and time of removal” would be “made known at the sale,” was constructed in 1788, and had a bell and clock tower as well as both a front and a back porch. Its successor was designed by the Boston architect John Stevens, whose popularity and ingenuity is wryly described by one contemporary reviewer in the following terms: “as the ‘outline and general features are after models of the Byzantine period’ we may expect something similar to Mr. Stevens’s previous works, which may be seen in almost every city from Calais to Lynn” (Verax). Stevens’s building still stands.

Population increases were the main force behind Andover’s ever-growing number of churches, although as the Civil War approached, certain parishioners’ opposition to abolitionism also spurred them to form new congregations. Prior to Andover’s parish divisions, during New England’s witch hysteria, an early meeting house became the site of the famous “touch test,” in which sick townspeople touched the suspected witch to see whether their malady flowed back to its evil source.

REFERENCES: Bailey, Sarah Loring. Historical Sketches of Andover, (Comprising the Present Towns of North Andover and Andover), Massachusetts (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co, 1880), p. 484; Mooar, George. Historical Manual of the South Church in Andover, Mass (W. F. Draper, 1859), p. 33; Verax, [review in] The American Architect and Building News, 28 Sept. 1878, p. 111.

Item #7779

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