East Church, as we fondly nickname it, is the “pretty” church sitting diagonally at the corner of Adams Street and Granite Place.
The original organizational meeting was held in 1843 above Babcock’s Store in “Railway Village” (E. Milton Square) with 18 people from Milton and Quincy. Services were held in this hall and for a short time in the “Old Stone Church” which was built in 1826 at Adams and Church Streets by Unitarians who had broken away from their Quincy church. The church was later used for the first Roman Catholic services in Milton.
In 1843 a new Congregational parish was formed in East Milton known then as the Second Evangelical Church.
Land was purchased, and, three years later, the meetinghouse was built at 577 Adams Street. For almost 105 years, this was the house of worship.
Even before there was a formal building there was a Sunday School. The women in the church organized the Ladies Aid Society (now the Women’s Society) in 1860 for the purpose of sewing for the soldiers in the Civil War. At one point in 1890 there were only 11 members and the women of the Ladies Aid Society were largely responsible for keeping things going.
In 1898 the church was incorporated and the name was changed to the East Congregational Church of Milton.
As membership and activities in the church grew in the early 20th Century, so too did the need for more space. In 1921, a parsonage was bought, and in 1935 land was bought and a building fund was started. Construction was delayed by World War II, but the new church was finally dedicated on September 23, 1951. By the 1960s, East Congregational had more than 950 members.
(Those interested in the history of the United Church of Christ, from its roots 20 centuries ago, through the 1957 union that established its current name, to the present are invited to read the fascinating “Short Course” found on the ucc.org website.)
Through the 162 years there have been 30 pastors, all of them men until 1981 with the coming of the Rev. Llewellyn Smith.
Because music means so much to the life of our church, it seems pertinent to include a little of the background of our present organ. Plans for the new church included an electric organ, but the majority of members instead preferred a pipe organ. With generous donations a 15-rank pipe organ was installed in 1951. Because the new organ had to be fitted into the space allotted for the smaller electric organ, maintenance was difficult to accomplish. Problems with sound quality prompted a complete overhaul of the organ, including the addition of several ranks, in 1987. Now there are 1,380 speaking pipes, which provide the glorious sounds we enjoy each Sunday morning. If you are a pipe organ enthusiast, John Roper added a detailed technical entry to his online Pipe Organ Database.