Nantucket boasts several historic churches, but anyone that has travelled to Nantucket will recognize the iconic clock tower of the Second Congregational Meeting House, now known as the Unitarian Universalist Church. Easily one of the most photographed buildings on the island, the church is still welcoming guests to Nantucket as it has been doing for more than 200 years.
Most of Nantucket's historic churches date back to the early 19th
century. The following is not a complete list of the island's churches
and only includes those with buildings of historical and/or
architectural significance. Many of these churches are open for
worship. For more information, click on the church link to be taken
directly to their website.
African Meeting House
Museum of Afro-American History
29 York Street
This small building was erected about 1827 in a segregated community known as New Guinea, where it served as a church, a school, and a meeting house. The restoration of the Meeting House was completed in 1999, and it is open to the public on a seasonal schedule.
First Congregational Church
62 Centre Street
One of Nantucket's most photographed historic churches, the original vestry was built about 1725, but dismantled and moved to its current site in 1865. The first tower was built in 1795 and a bell was hung in the tower in 1800, the first one on the island. The tower was removed and the church moved to the back of the property to make room for the current church in 1834. The current tower was added in 1968.
For a bird’s eye view of the town, harbor and beyond, you MUST visit the church tower. There are 94 steps, but the spectacular views are worth the effort. Bell Tower Tour
Quaker Meeting House
7 Fair Street
Quakerism gradually became the dominant religion during the most prosperous days of Nantucket’s whaling industry. The Quaker (Friends) Meeting House on Fair Street was erected in 1838 and originally served as a Friends school. The building was purchased from the Friends in 1894, and became the Nantucket Historical Association’s first museum. In the 1940s, Quakers formed a worship group, and began to meet once more in the historic meetinghouse.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
20 Fair Street
The original church, Trinity Episcopal Church constructed on Broad Street, was destroyed by the devastating Great Fire of 1846. Trinity Parish was formally dissolved, and a group of parishioners banded together to form a new church. The new church, erected on Fair Street in 1850, was eventually sold, placed on rollers and moved to Beach Street. The current building, which features memorial windows made by Tiffany, was erected in 1901.
'Sconset Union Chapel
18 New Street (Siasconset)
This beautiful Gothic Revival-style chapel was completed in 1883. A recital was held that July and attendees were charged 25 cents each to raise money for a sanctuary organ. Other than having undergone some necessary repairs and renovations over the years, Sconset Union Chapel appears much as it did when it was first constructed.
Summer Street Church / First Baptist Church
1 Summer Street
Originally known as the First Baptist Church, this beautiful church was conceived in 1839 and built in 1840. A new steeple was dedicated on October 22, 2000 and the church name that had been popular a century ago, “Summer Street Church” was adopted.
The Church of St. Mary-Our Lady of the Isle
3 Federal Street
Construction of this historic church began in 1896 and was completed in July 1897. The first Mass was celebrated on August 8, 1897. The church building features lovely stained-glass windows and a beautiful statue of Our Lady of the Isle in front of the church, sculpted in Italian marble by DePrato and donated by parishioners in 1956. The church doors are open to all people, every day of the year.
In 1809 the meeting house was built and the Second Congregational Meeting House Society incorporated. Its bell was brought from Lisbon, Portugal, in 1812. The town clock was placed in the tower in 1823. In 1837 the Second Congregational Meeting House (also known as the South Church) officially became Unitarian.
Contact the church for information their sanctuary tours.
United Methodist Church
Two Centre Street
This beautiful church entertained the New England Conference of 1837 and survived the fire of 1846. It has one of the five known Thomas Appleton pipe organs in existance, and is the only one that has been in continual play since its construction in 1831. The organ was taken to Nantucket by the W.G. Nettleton packet ship in 1859.