Sometime around 1790, our congregational ancestors decided to build a home for their pastors on a plot of donated land adjacent to the church. About three years later, the spacious four-bedroom parsonage was ready for its first occupant, the Reverend William F. Rowland.
Soon after, the congregation approved another ambitious project—a new church building: the 1798 structure we continue to use. It is the third church building constructed on the site.
We haven’t built a new structure since 1798 but have renovated and revised the use of both buildings multiple times over the last two centuries. According to our in-house architectural expert, Lynne Monroe, the parsonage’s late 18th century bones lie beneath a mid- to late-19th century re-do in the then-popular Italianate style. The façade was updated, window openings changed, and the rear ell added.
Our parsonage was home to 19 settled ministers, beginning with William Rowland and ending with Michael and Jane Henderson in 2003. Interim pastor Robert Curry was the last official resident after the Hendersons left.
No one lived in the parsonage longer than Rev. Rowland – 38 years – and more than a few ministers lasted just a year.
The Twentieth Century
The third-longest resident (20 years, 1936-1956) was the Rev. Paul Martin, whose son John Martin, of Exeter, is often a guest singer at Sunday services. John, who spent his first 13 years in the parsonage with his parents and younger sister, loved to attend the Exeter Brass Band concerts, but had to be home before they ended.
Young John didn’t miss much; he could hear the rest of the concert from his upstairs bedroom. He recalls grabbing his toy boats and heading downstairs when rains flooded the cellar and exploring the nooks and crannies in the attic and basement. The grounds around the parsonage were his play spaces and it was also where his mother hung the family’s laundry. John remembers breaking his arm when he tripped on a tree stump on the lawn close to Bixler House, then a two-family home.
John said a minister’s job in those days was 24/7/365, so living next to the church was convenient.
In the early 2000s, many pastors – including our newly called pastor, Nancy Rockwell—were opting out of parsonage living in favor of home ownership for both financial and privacy reasons.
That’s when our parsonage had a “career change” – from home to office. In recent years, however, housing prices have increased so dramatically that pastors cannot afford to buy or rent within a reasonable commuting distance of the church.
The Transformation Has Begun…
Immediately after the congregation voted in June 2021 to proceed with the project, trustees and volunteers got busy.
- Kitchen: volunteers have gutted the space and prepared it for new windows, insulation, cabinets, countertops, floor and appliances.
- 2nd floor bathroom: new washer/dryer hook up will be installed
- Throughout: volunteers removed carpet; stairs will be repaired; lighting/signage required for office space will be removed
- Energy/safety: attic insulation will be refreshed; windows will be repaired; new sash locks and deadbolt door locks to be installed
- Garage: will be demolished and replaced
- Office spaces: The church office, resource room, and our refugee resettlement space will be returned to spaces in the church building.
We are so grateful for all the pledges and contributions we have already received! We are off to a strong start, and hope that our whole congregation will join in to support this worthy project.
What Comes Next?
The parsonage will be ready in June 2022.
The Bottom Line
We need to raise $150,000.
The church trustees project the following expenses:
Electrical, carpet and floor repair, insulation, window repair: $58,540
How You Can Help
Please join us as we work together to make this parsonage project a reality!
There are two ways to pledge:
1. By pledge form: Simply download the attached pledge form and either send it to the church email at email@example.com or mail it to 21 Front Street, Exeter, NH 03833.
Click here to find the form: https://www.exeterucc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Parsonage-Project-Pledge-Form-2021-1.pdf
2. Or, pledge entirely online by going to our capital campaign link on Tithely. You can even set up automatic payments, if you so choose.
Click here to pledge on Tithely: https://tithe.ly/pledge/#/campaign/4237785