In 1828, 110 local residents gathered in a barn in Morristown Corners to establish the Universalist Church of Morristown. The Universalists were the fourth religious body to formally organize in Morristown. They continued to meet at the Union Church and school house at the Corners and at Mill Village in Cadys Falls. Until 1840 when they built their first church in Morrisville, on the present site. This church burned in 1851. The present church was built in 1865. The land was deeded by Alumin Tinker in 1864 to the Universalist Society. It is also noted that John C. & Elisa Page deeded land in 1864 to the Universalist Society for the new building. The Reverend G.W. Bailey was pastor at that time.
Although the list of the 110 members is not found, John Walker is known to be one of the original members. The following shows the growth of the congregation: 1837: 22 members added, among them Hiram Kelsey and L.P. Poland; 1838: 13 members added including Philo Matthews, F.G. George, Vernon Noyes, Ebenezer Shaw; 1898: 28 names were added. The total was at that time 173. It is noted that names outside the church might have been added to the congregation to raise the funding they received from the State Universalist Society.
In 1853, the membership was rewritten with 149 names.
The above information was provided by the Church of Grace Stafford, their clerk
in the 30s.
An important part of the building is the Town Clock that was donated to the Town
of Morristown by Mr. Pennock in 1883. It is owned and maintained by the Town.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the church bells served as the fire alarm
for the Morrisville Fire Department. The steeple is the highest point in the Village
and immediately visible to all who enter the Village.
In November 1894, three memorial windows were installed. Two were placed on the left and right sides of the pulpit. One was presented by Rev. Dr. Booth in memory of his son, Ernest, and the other by George W. Clark in memory of Mrs. Ellen Cady. The third window of larger size Gothic in style, was placed on the west side of the vestry by Mrs. Nathan McFerland in memory of her husband and sister, Mrs. Thompson.
In August 1896, four more stained glass windows were installed.
The center window on the east side was given by Mrs. F.H. Gates
in memory of A.O. Gates who was long identified with the Sunday School and the Church.
The first organ was installed in March 1885. In October, 1906, a new Estey organ was installed, 'The organ selected is a handsome and expensive one and will just fit into the alcove at the left of the pulpit."
Water, sewer and electric lights were installed in 1895. In 1930, restoration of the steeple was done. A large addition in the vestry for Sunday School and social events was completed in 1924-25.
In reviewing the many journals that have been saved, there are minutes from the Ladies Sewing Circle, formed in 1871, Universalist Mission Circle formed in 1907, and the Louise Slocum Class. In 1867, the Church adopted a preamble and profession of faith. J. P. Booth was _________________________________________
reflect the membership at the time, officers, finances, baptismal records, fund raising efforts, speakers and concrns of the church. It becomes apparent the fund raising efforts of the above three entities of the church gains in importance to the well being of the church. the membership lists throughout the minutes reflect the more prominent and wealthy residents of the community.
There are frequent references to Alexander Copley, the Town's benefactor. His mother, Jane, was the first vice president of the Ladies Sewing Circle, 1871. He donated funds in 1931 to paint the church. In 1933 he donated $2000 to move the Mary Thomas house to a lot he purchased on Park St. for a parsonage. In 1937 extensive repairs were done to the parsonage.
In the 1940's and 50's, the slow decline of the church is apparent in the minutes of the Ladies Sewing Circle and the Louise Slocum Class. There is frequent mention of the lack of a minister and funds. The church is closed at times but the two committees continue to meet. In the summer months, services are provided by returning ministers, on vacation. Many of the influential members are deceased and the financial problems increase. In July '45, there is a discussion as to how many services a year they must have to retain their alliance with the state church society and retain the property and building. It was noted that there is no requirement.
In 1949, the Reverend Evans returns for a service with 100 present. A quartet of Willard Sanders, Richard Adams, Mary Mitchell and Verona Parker sang selected songs. Organists during this period are Robert Fredericks, Verona Parker and Myra Waite.
In 1951, Reverend Frank Stockwell was hired. He had been ordained in this church in 1916. He was the last minister for the church. In 1956, the church was closed for the winter because of cold weather and lack of funds. Salary was owed to Reverend Stockwell. Discussion was held to sell the parsonage. In May, 1956, the parsonage was sold to Porter Greene and the money given to the Ladies Sewing Circle. It was hoped to hold summer services. in 1957, there were services held in the summer months.
In 1962, the church members "met with sadness to discuss the disposal of the church". 13 members attended. It was decided that the Society would continue if there were three members left. The deeding of the church to the state society was discussed. The memgers attending this meeting were as follows: Blanch Adams, Ballou Towne, Erle Morrill, Harold Eaton, Mary Gates, Kate Peck, Isabelle Towne, Nora Hersey, Doris Jenney, Evelyn McKee, Mabel & Frank Stockwell, Willard Sanders.
In May 1968, the members voted to donate the church and property to the Lamoille County Civic Association (Lamoille Senior Center). Attending were Mr. & Mrs. George Hersey, Mr. & Mrs. Ballou Towne, Mr. & Mrs. Foster Andrews, Doris Jenney, Marjorie Emmons, Ann Morrill, Mary Gates for the Society and Lawrence Gregory and Silas Jewett for LCCA. Should the LCCA at any time cease their property, the church and property will revert back to the Universalist Society.