Cotuit churchesCOTUIT’S CHURCHES

Cotuit built six church buildings, all but one of which are still standing. Eight different religious denominations contributed to their construction.

The first two were built in 1846 almost as twins, two miles apart, in the north and south ends of the village.

At Cotuit Port the Baptists, Methodists and Congregationalists joined–unusually–to erect the Union Meeting House in early 1846. This was the first federated church (meaning two or more churches merged) in America. It was built by shareholders, many of whom were whaling captains. Pews were sold or rented until 1884 when free seats were finally provided. A steeple was added in 1872, and now serves as the Mariners Lodge of the Masons.

A few months later, the Congregationalists of Old Cotuit (what we now call Santuit), built a similar Greek Revival church across the street from today’s St. Michael’s Church. The members of this “First Church in Cotuit” were Wampanoags loyal to the ousted missionary minister of Mashpee, Rev. Phineas Fish, as well as the old Yankee families like the Crockers, Sampsons and Baxters. It was probably built by the Baxters, who became the major builders of the area. The last service at the church wa the 1929 funeral of the father of Representative Charles L. Gifford, who served in Congress from 1922-1947. The church was torn down in 1942.

The opening of the 20th century brought two new churches to Cotuit, a new Methodist church in 1901 and a Christian Science church in 1902. Under the Rev. Howard Taylor the Methodists broke from the old Union church to build their own Queen Anne style church across from the Santuit School on School St. Local builder Alonzo Savery used plans of K. H. Allen. In 1941 the exterior was completely transformed into Colonial Revival style by the Boston architect A. A. Dirlam when the Rev. Walter Kraft was pastor. In 1923 the Methodists and Congregationalists came together again to form the Cotuit Federated Church.

In 1902 the Cotuit Christian Science Society built first of two buildings at what is now #700 Main St. The builder was probably Howard Dottridge, husband of the society’s Reader, Elizabeth “Lizzie” (Collins) Dottridge, who lived a few houses up the street. In 1930 a larger church was built next door to the south to accommodate the larger summer attendance, but this was unheated. Both buildings were moved in 1948 by Bob Hayden seven miles east to Hyannis, where they still house Christian Science services.

St. Jude’s Catholic church was built in 1939 at 4447 Route 28 by Lebel & Sons of Osterville on plans of Maginis, Walsh and Kennedy of Boston, who also designed the Church of the Holy Name in Fall River. Previously Catholic services were held in the Matias house next door, and in Baxter Hall.
The first mass was celebrated by Thomas J. McLean, second pastor of Our Lady of Assumption church in Osterville. When the church of Christ the King was built three miles west in Mashpee in 1988, St. Jude’s was moved by Bob Hayden and attached as a chapel.

St. Michael the Archangel Antiochian Orthodox church worships at 62 Main St. Founded as a mission in 1994 with only three families, the parish has grown to over seventy families. From 1994 to 1999, with help off visiting priests, the congregants of St. Michael held services in a variety of store fronts, churches and in the homes of parishioners. A lease was signed in October 1999 for the building that formerly housed the EPAC Grotto of Masons. The Baxter Grange Hall, built in 1900, was transformed in 1999. Father Ephraim Peters celebrated the first service in Nov. 1999.

Today we have three active congregations in Cotuit. On July 30, 2011 by Gateway Christian Center, a non-denominational Pentecostal Christian group led by Rev. Robert E. Condon joined St. Michael’s and the Federated Church as active congregations. They meet in the International-style La Salla Grande, which the former Sons of Italy built on the Mashpee line at #4966 Route 28 in 1988.


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