First Unitarian Church

If we had to choose one person who had the most impact on the look and feel of Benefit Street and its environs, it would have to be John Holden Greene, architect of the First Unitarian Church (1816) and another 49 other public, commercial, religious and residential buildings in Providence, all built between 1806 and 1830 (22 are still standing, many of them on or near Benefit Street).

If the church is open, have a look inside; after taking in the spare and tasteful elegance of its interior, note the tight rectangular pews that are arranged in sequence along the ground floor and mezzanine. Spaces for contemplation and devotion? Yes, but also prime real estate in a city that was leading the Industrial Revolution and, by 1816, was well on its way toward becoming one of the most affluent cities in America (by 1910, Providence was second in the nation in terms of per-capita wealth).


First Congregationalist Church

First Congregationalist Church

Providence's Congregationalists built this church about 1795. It was destroyed by fire on June 14, 1814 and was replaced by the building that now serves as the First Unitarian Church. View File Details Page

Church pew plan

Church pew plan

Pew plat of the church interior marking family ownership of pews in 1816, made in 1904 (RIHS). View File Details Page

Street Address:

1 Benevolent Street [map]

Cite this Page:

Elyssa Tardif, “First Unitarian Church,” Rhode Tour, accessed April 27, 2017,
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