Candia Congregational Meetinghouse

Candia, originally part of Chester, was considered the wilderness outskirts of that town when, in 1763, thirty eight courageous settlers petitioned Gov. Wentworth to set this area off as a separate parish. It was, they argued, too difficult to get to Chester for worship on the Sabbath, and in bad weather impossible. This petition was granted in Dec. of 1763 and Candia became a parish with surveyed boundaries and 128 lots. Lots #90 and 91 at the "Senter" high on the hill, were designated Parsonage and School Lots. These lots were on either side of South Road from the top of the hill to Adams and Baker Roads.

True to their Puritan ideals of majority decision making, they held their first "town meeting" in March of 1764. Town business and church business were one-in-the-same. The residents chose town officials and voted to raise money to hire preaching. Two years later they voted to construct a proper meetinghouse.

When we consider the hardships and difficulties of basic survival in these early settlement times, we cannot help but be awed at the priority these Christians placed on worship and the teaching of God's Word.

The timber-framed Meetinghouse was built and raised by the labor of the entire village. We can scarcely imagine the raising of the huge walls of this structure. Funding for the siding of the building was provided through the sale of pew ground, a designated space within the church where a family could then build their pew. A year later windows were glazed. At later dates benches were added, a pulpit built with singing pews on either side, then a second-floor gallery with pew boxes, and in 1802, a Revere bell. For sixty years, three generations of Candia residents participated in the building of this beautiful church that was located in the area of today's soldiers' monument. All would end in flames in Jan. 1838.

Amazingly, ten months after the fire, the new and present day church was dedicated. This rapid construction tells us of the priority the congregation had for a meeting place for God's people. The decision to rebuild was made the night of the fire by the church members as they stood at the glowing embers of their loss.

Today's church was originally designed with a central pulpit, pew boxes and gallery in the back. A diagram of this is framed in the rear of the church. The steeple was a later addition that replaced an "acorn" top. The bell was partially funded by the salvage of brass from the bell destroyed in the fire. Although the church has had several improvements, renovations and redecorations, the Puritan beauty and 1766-1838 elegant simplicity remain.

Today's parishioners honor the privilege of being part of God's history in the town of Candia.