United First Parish Church

Architecture & Buildings

United First Parish Church in Quincy, Massachusetts, is a Unitarian Universalist congregation, established as the parish church of Quincy in 1639. The current building was constructed in 1828 to designs by Alexander Parris. The building was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 30, 1970. It is called the Church of the Presidents because two American Presidents, John Adams and John Quincy Adams, attended the church along with their wives, Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams. All four are interred beneath the church in a family crypt. The pew which they sat is marked with a plaque and ribbon on the side. The congregation first gathered in 1636 as a branch of the church in Boston, becoming an independent church in 1639, known simply as "Ye Church of Braintry," because the whole area was then known as Braintree. It was a Puritan congregationalist church when first established, but since the mid-18th century has been Unitarian, in spirit if not in name. The 1828 church is constructed of Quincy granite. President John Adams financed its construction through a land donation, and the bulk of the granite comes from the Adams family quarry. However, the pillars are from another local quarry, as the Adams quarry was not deep enough for a full-height pillar. Its original bell was cast by Paul Revere, but was melted down and recast as it was not loud enough to serve as a fire alarm. The unusual domed ceiling represents a passion flower surrounded by lotuses. The fine mahogany altar is original. Both presidents, together with their first ladies, are buried in a family vault in the church's basement. Only one other church in the United States contains a presidential tomb, namely the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., which contains the remains of President Woodrow Wilson.