NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 6, 2013

Piece of Seabrook's past needs face-lift

(Continued)

“And it was then that the king set the border of New Hampshire three miles north of the Merrimack River,” Brown said. “And so we became part of New Hampshire.”

When residents later grew disenchanted with the Congregational Church of Hampton Falls where they worshiped, those living in Seabrook petitioned New Hampshire’s General Assembly to incorporate as a town of their own. Permission granted, in 1764, the Old South Meetinghouse was built by the Presbyterian Society, and the town took its name from a place in England.

“Samuel Pearl named the town after his friend the Lord of Seabrook, who was Earl of Seabrook, England,” Brown said. “If you look on a map of England, you can still find Seabrook; it’s along the coast just south of Dover.”

From that point on Seabrook’s Old South Meetinghouse played a role in almost every facet of town life, religious, governmental and social. It was the site of nearly all community functions for more than a century. Religious worship took place upstairs under changing denominations until 1980, and Seabrook’s annual Town Meetings were held on the first floor until 1954.

“I remember going to church upstairs with my mother,” Brown said. “And I remember going to Town Meetings with my father, who was the police chief. The town moderator back then was Earl Moreland, and he had a job keeping order.”

In 1774, residents met there to discuss issues relevant to what would become the American Revolution. And it was at Old South Meetinghouse that local men enlisted to fight in this nation’s War for Independence, as well as the Civil War.

The building still has good bone structure, and it is statuesque and graceful in its architecture, from its spire down. But like most historical icons, it needs a helping hand to survive. Brown’s hoping voters will treasure what the building represents, for it would be very difficult to image the town without Old South Meetinghouse, the sentinel that’s been there since Seabrook first came into being.

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