The Old First Church, Bennington

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The First Congregational Church of Bennington, also known as the Old First Church, is a historic church at 1 Monument Circle in Old Bennington, Vermont. The congregation was organized in 1762 and the current meeting house was built in 1805. The building, one of the state's best examples of Federal period religious architecture, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.Description and historyThe Old First Church occupies a prominent position facing the green in the center of Old Bennington, at the junction of Monument Avenue and Church Lane near the southern end of the green. It is a two story rectangular wood frame structure, with a projecting entry vestibule and multi-stage tower. The gabled roof has a modillioned eave, and the exterior is finished in wooden clapboards with quoined corners. The entry vestibule is also gabled, with two round-arch entrances flanking a larger central entrance, which is topped by a rounded transom and gable. The second level of the vestibule has a large Palladian window with broken pediment above, and there is a half-round window in the pediment above. The tower has pilastered corners, with a smaller Palladian window in the first stage, an open second stage octagonal belfry, and an octagonal cupola at the top.The church congregation was organized in 1762, and its first meetinghouse was built in 1766. Due to increased participation, this building, with a seating capacity of six hundred fifty, was built in 1805, funded by the sale of pews and local levies. It was designed by builder Lavius Fillmore, who apparently borrowed heavily from Plate 35 of Asher Benjamin's The Country Builder's Assistant.Old Bennington CemeteryThe adjacent cemetery Old Bennington Cemetery, also known as Old First Church Cemetery or Old First Congregational Church Cemetery, was designated by the Vermont legislature as "Vermont's Sacred Acre".
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  • This is a must see when you are in Bennington. The inside is beautiful. A great place for weddings. When you see the open sign go in and see. Accepts donation. You can also visit Robert Frost's burial...  more »
  • This lovely, beautifully situated and designed church. Good to take a moment and just look around at the lines and colors and shapes as the light changes during the day. My favorite Christmas Eve serv...  more »
  • The church was closed but was such a sight to behold and so much history. The cemetery was open and we had a good look round and even learned a great deal. Since we've been home we've come across Robe...  more »
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  • This was a delightful experience. From visiting a variety of historic graves (including Robert Frost and family) to viewing the beautiful interior of the church it was well worth the stop. Be sure to visit the boys side of the balcony to read what pen knives left over the centuries. Be a great place to share in worship on a Sunday morning if you happen to be in the area.
  • One of the oldest churches in America. The church is still in use today and is still pretty much as it was 200 years ago. It's best to go when its open, as there are tour guides there. It's free of charge to get in and walk around. The surrounding cemetery is the resting place for Robert Frost and many others, which date back to the late 1700's.
  • Nice historic church on the circle.A lot of history here.
  • Wow what an experience to visit a church building that was put into use in 1807. Beautiful.
  • I grew up in Old Bennington Vermont spending my summers with Mrs. Weller while she showed people our beautiful Old First Church. It has huge windows of very old glass that kind of flows and let's the sun in various soft waves. She always showed people the foot warmer in one of the boxed seating boxes where families sat. The center of our sanctuary's ceiling has a huge concave feature depicting the world in the arms of the cross. Up front there is a low pulpit and a high pulpit where the children's choir sometimes got to sing from. In the upstairs are the seats where the young men sat on one side and the young women sat on the other and our magnificent pipe organ in the middle. Outside is the cemetery which has graves of the solders who if memory serves me were paid foreigners who fought for our freedom in the Revolutionary War. Also Robert Frost the poet is buried too. If you park your car near the church you can walk up Monument Avenue to the Bennington Battle Monument. There is an elevator to ride up. From the look out in the monument you can see the steeple of the church and the Green Mountains. After you walk back towards the church about half way take a side road to the left before the Old Bennington Library and the the next right. When you get to the main road you can either go right and return the church or go left and go to the Bennington Museum. The museum has many permeant and changing exhibits. There are wonderful toys from long ago and pictures. Going through I always feel like Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys are just around the corner. A great way to help children really feel our history! After that walk back up through the cemetery. Near the road is my favorite stone in the shape of a lamb. On the other side diagonally across the cemetery heading back to your car is Robert Frost Grave. And when you walk to the front of the church by way of the path in the center of the cemetery (just before the gate to the street and marble side walk) on your left will be those soldiers grave I mentioned before. It's a good health day walk through a very important part of our great history. The Battle of Bennington was a turning point to our country's freedom!
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