Union Meeting House
Photograph courtesy of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation

  Union Meeting House
Photograph by Harvey M. Kaplan

Built about a decade before the East Village Meeting House, the Union Meeting House in the village of East Montpelier is an outstanding example of Federal meeting house architecture. The meeting house, serving both religious and secular functions, had no precedent in England, and was an early American building type. Union Meeting House, or Old Meeting House as it is now known, is typical of New England meeting houses because of its frame construction with white clapboards, rectangular form, gable roof, and steeple symbolizing its importance to the community. It is especially significant because of the architectural integrity of both its exterior and interior. Electricity was installed only as recently as 1970.

Union Meeting House stands on land that was originally designated as the town common of Montpelier, by Parley Davis, the first surveyor of that town. However, by 1822, a group of Methodists leased the site with payment of money, cattle, pork and butter. Pews were sold to members of the congregation for 20 to 50 dollars, usually paid for in services or in kind. The interior of the church is little changed. The front doors lead into a small room containing stairs to the overhead singer's gallery and two doors to the main meeting room. The pine pews face the doors and the elevated pulpit is placed in between. Oral tradition relates that the design and construction of the church were the work of all members of the community, rather than any one individual. Upon completion the meeting house not only served the Methodists but was the site for Montpelier town meetings, and for East Montpelier town meetings after it became a separate town in 1849. In 1954 a mid-19th century bell was salvaged from a demolished church and the open shelter next to the meeting house now houses this bell.

Union Meeting House, now known as the Old Meeting House, is located in East Montpelier Center on Center Rd. (Town Hwy. 3) near its intersection with Brazier Rd. (Town Hwy. 50). The church is open to visitors Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00am to 12 pm and for Sunday morning services at 9:30am.

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