About First Baptist Church in Newton
The church was designed by the young Boston architect John Lyman Faxon (1851-1918) and was completed in 1888 making it a Late Victorian era structure. In 1982 it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The church has since resisted temptations of succeeding generations to alter the building to more current styles, so it remains an intact and handsome example of a uniquely American building.
The building exhibits many fine examples of late 19th Century American stained-glass work, which are unique in that they were all in place at the completion of the building. The work is assumed to be that of Donald McDonald, a leading Boston studio from the period. They were historically significant for utilizing then-new opalescent glass and were largely influenced by the work of LaFarge and Tiffany.
“America” Bell Tower
The tower was given in memory of Reverend Samuel F. Smith, minister of this church from 1842 to 1854 and author of “America.” In 1932, on the 100th anniversary of the writing of “America,” the tower was rededicated the “America” Tower. The bell tower contains an 11-bell chime cast by Meneely Bell Co. of West Troy, NY, installed in 1899.
The organ was installed new in the Chancel in 1901 and was derived from Hook-Hastings Opus #1906. In 1985, after several earlier alterations, portions of the Opus 483 were added to a newly purchased E. and F.F. Hook Opus 371 which had previously been installed in the Mt. Pleasant Unitarian Church in Roxbury. The present organ has 1,544 pipes in 27 ranks and is direct mechanical action. It is well suited to leading congressional song as well as performing a wide variety of solo repertoire.