FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 30, 2018
Peter Michaud, N.H. Division of Historical Resources
Farmington church named to National Register of Historic Places
The New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources is proud to announce that the First Congregational Church in Farmington has been honored by the United States Secretary of the Interior with placement on the National Register of Historic Places, both as an excellent example of Gothic Revival architecture and as an example of the work of architect Frederick N. Footman.
First Congregational was built in 1875 and is the oldest church in continuous use in Farmington. It is also Farmington’s only Gothic Revival building and stands out for its distinctive arched windows and doorways, fourteen buttresses with angled capstones, 9 x 5-foot arched stained glass window above the vestibule entrance and steep gabled roof.
The church’s 120-foot corner belfry houses the town clock and the 1915 Henry Wilson memorial bell. The clock has five-foot clock faces on all four sides, each located above recessed wooden louvered arched openings. It was wound manually each week until it was electrified in 1941. Wilson was a church member in his youth and went on to serve as vice president under Ulysses Grant.
Inside, the church’s hallway walls have stained bead-board wainscot with darker stained molded chair rail and textured plaster above. The sanctuary’s trussed ceiling was originally stenciled but pressed tin was added early in the 20th century. Two sets of 30 curved wooden pews provide seating for the congregation. Two original Gothic Revival chairs and choir pews are located on a platform at the front of the church.
The First Congregational Church’s vivid stained glass windows were painted using the Grisaille technique, which uses black or gray vitreous enamel paint to trace tin stencils on glass; the designs are then overlaid with translucent colors. They are well-preserved examples of early American stained glass artistry, preceding the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany, who later popularized opalescent stained glass.
The church was designed by Somersworth native Frederick N. Footman, one of the first students to enroll in MIT’s architectural program. Footman designed several other New Hampshire buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Almshouse at the Strafford County Farm in Dover and the ca. 1886 Laconia High School, which became the district courthouse in 1977. He is buried in Somersworth’s National Register-listed Forest Grove Cemetery.
Administered by the National Park Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation and is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate and protect our historic and archaeological resources.
Listing to the National Register does not impose any new or additional restrictions or limitations on the use of private or non-federal properties. Listings identify historically significant properties and can serve as educational tools and increase heritage tourism opportunities. The rehabilitation of National Register-listed commercial or industrial buildings may qualify for certain federal tax provisions.
In New Hampshire, listing to the National Register makes applicable property owners eligible for grants such as the Land and Community Heritage Investment Program or LCHIP (lchip.org) and the Conservation License Plate Program (nh.gov/nhdhr/grants/moose).
For more information on the National Register program in New Hampshire, please visit nh.gov/nhdhr or contact Peter Michaud at the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources at 603-271-3583.
New Hampshire’s Division of Historical Resources, the “State Historic Preservation Office,” was established in 1974. The historical, archaeological, architectural and cultural resources of New Hampshire are among its most important environmental assets. Historic preservation promotes the use, understanding and conservation of such resources for the education, inspiration, pleasure and enrichment of New Hampshire’s citizens. For more information, visit nh.gov/nhdhr or call 603-271-3483.