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the history

of the church

The First Congregational Church was "gathered" on September 17, 1725, and was the first and only tolerated church in Kingston for many years. Following the passage of the TOLERATION ACT OF 1819, other religions quickly formed- Methodists opened their Kingston Academy that year, and a year later, the First Baptist Church was incorporated in South Kingston.



It was not until the Civil War, and after, that the churches worked together and the temperance movement was their common cause. They all prospered in the Victorian Age, and in 1878, the Universalist Society constructed this building. The Levi S. Bartlett family (son of Josiah Bartlett, second signer of the Declaration of Independence) donated the land for the church. 

The Church flourished and attracted by far the greatest congregation of all the churches by the turn of the century. Slowly the churches found it more and more difficult to involve people in their life, as families became more mobile with the coming of the automobile. The Universalist Church lost strength and discontinued a full year program as recently as 1950.

By 1954, the Church closed its doors due to lack of support.


The building stood empty for 20 years before being deconsecrated and donated to the Kingston Improvement &Historical Society. Since then, the Society itself has successfully made the building usable and safe, and has completed many  restorations to  the edifice and has preserved its uniquely beautiful architecture and the interior's rare decor .

Since 2001, the Kingston Improvement and Historical Society has seen a surge of volunteerism and generosity.  The interior of the Church on the Plains has benefited from pew cushions donated by individuals, restored stenciled windows,  a new furnace, and donated period furniture and lighting.  The exterior has received most of the attention, having been painted numerous times, a new roof, new front entry steps with handicapped access,  with plans now underway for a new front lawn peace garden and walkway.


From community concerts, to ecumenical programming, weddings, and funerals, the church has become a favorite spot for many to appreciate and enjoy. 


Volunteers are always needed and welcomed to join the K.I.H.S. committee which meets once monthly to discuss continued upkeep and fundraiser goals.  For further information, contact


The Church on the Plains is a Not-For-Profit 501C3 Organization, and is owned and operated by the Kingston Improvement and Historical Society, P.O. Box 663, Kingston, NH

The church today

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