A History of the Jericho Congregational Church


Our church body is blessed by the use of a fine historic structure, a church built by and for the congregation it continues to serve. The body of believers does not wish to place undue importance in the physical structure, believing strongly that the Church consists of its members, not the structure in which it holds its meetings. However, the Church is pleased that God has blessed us with a structure so richly steeped in history, and is thankful for this fragile thread that binds the present to the past. It is one of the oldest buildings in the area, even though it is a replacement for an earlier structure.

It is commonly held that some materials from the original 1797 building were used in the construction of the present structure. The fact that this record states that the first building was dismantled a year after the second was completed indicates that this is not likely to be true. Originally built in 1836, the current building underwent a major rebuilding in 1877, replacing all but the walls, framing and roof. Since that rebuilding, the church has remained essentially unchanged. The sanctuary still contains much of the trompe l’oiel (3 dimensional in appearance) painted decoration that was added in 1877. The plastered ceiling is beautifully painted in vibrant hues, though years of coal heat had hidden much of the brightness of the colors. The ceiling was restored in 2003 to bring it back to its original appearance.

The members of the church value the historical integrity of the building, and are developing a comprehensive preservation plan to help guide us through future work on the structure. The church’s most recent construction has been a major addition and renovation that was designed to address the need to make the structure handicap accessible and to expand the useful space.

In 1913, the Town of Jericho celebrated its Centennial. To commemorate the event, a substantial (650+) page history of the town was published. This history contains a great deal of information about the Jericho Congregational Church (then known as the First Congregational Church of Jericho). We are in the process of transposing this record, and will be presenting most of the information relevant to the church here. Unless otherwise indicated, the photos are from the 1913 volume. Clicking on the small images will display larger versions.

First Congregational Church of Jericho, Located at Jericho Center

Organized March 31, 1791

The centennial celebration of the founding of this church was held June 17, 1891. A committee to have the general direction of preparations had been elected the preceding November, Deacon Isaac C. Stone being chairman. The other members were Rev. Leonard B. Tenney, Pastor; Deacon M. Hoyt Chapin, Mr. and Mrs. George M. Stiles, Mrs. Frank H. Cilley, Mrs. Eugene B. Jordan. This committee labored assiduously to make the anniversary a success. On the day designated three sessions were held filled to repletion with good things. Dinner was served in the basement of the church to four hundred persons, and supper to about half that number. A valuable pamphlet was afterward published containing the addresses delivered, and to this we must refer readers for a complete record of the proceedings of the day. We transfer to our pages the paper upon “Church Edifices” by Hon. Edgar H. Lane of Burlington, and the “Historical Discourse” by Rev. Austin Hazen of Richmond, both being essential in order to cover the subject.

From: A History of Jericho, Vermont. c.1913