Historic Churches of Deerfield Open House December 10, 2023
Visit the Churches, Socialize with Neighbors!
Deerfield Churches Then and Now
Deerfield was founded as a Puritan community on the western frontier of the
Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1673. As a requirement for recognition as a
township by the General Court, the residents had to secure an orthodox
Congregational minister and construct a meeting house. The ravages of war or
other factors forced the village of Deerfield to reconstruct its meeting house five
times. The earliest of these buildings was burned during King Philip’s War. The
last was dedicated in 1824. A group of orthodox Congregationalists left the First
Church of Deerfield and established their own church in 1838. A Baptist meeting
house was established in Wisdom (West Deerfield) in 1810. It was the first
meeting house located outside of the Village of Old Deerfield.
Beginning in the late 1700s, areas in town beyond the Village were settled
and the pressures of colonial wars disappeared. A second parish for a
Congregational Church was established by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1818.
The parish incorporated all lands south of the Bars. Named Muddy Brook, then
Bloody Brook, the parish is known today as South Deerfield.
Throughout the nineteenth century, newly formed meeting houses were vital
centers of community and religious activities for local residents. Particularly after
1846, when the village of South Deerfield became a stop on the railroad, the
village became the mercantile and manufacturing center of Deerfield, as well as a
burgeoning area of religious centers.
These churches – the Second Parish Congregational Church of Deerfield,
Methodist Society, the Orthodox Congregational Church of South Deerfield
(Monument Church), St. James Roman Catholic Church, St. Stanislaus Bishop &
Martyr's Church; rededicated as Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, Holy Name
of Jesus Polish National Catholic Church, and Holy Spirit Ukrainian Catholic
Church -- served community leaders, an expanding labor force, and increasingly
diversified ethnic communities during the following century. These structures
provide a significant visual link to this town’s history; each structure has a unique
story to tell. A Quaker Meeting House and Retreat Center at Woolman Hill joined
the faith community in 1954.