The First Baptist Church, 5 Magazine Street.
The First Baptist Church, 5 Magazine Street, 1945.

The First Baptist Church, now in its third building, has dominated this intersection for almost 200 years. The original church, a somber Federal wooden meetinghouse, was erected on the site in 1817, enlarged in 1827 and 1850, and then destroyed by fire in 1866. Its congregation built a new church in an ambitious Gothic Revival style that same year. This asymmetrical brick structure, designed by S. S. Woodcock, was similar to today’s church, with a dramatic corner tower and spire balanced by a significantly smaller spire on the opposite façade. This building, too, was lost to fire in 1881. The current building was designed that year by Hartwell and Richardson and raised on the foundation of the second church. The First Baptist has a long history of community service and involvement in social reform.

Historic image: Cambridge Historical Commission, 1945

Photograph: Phyllis Bretholtz, 2010

“Central Square: Then and Now” portrays the history and vibrancy of Central Square over the past century. The project is a collaboration of the Clear Conscience Café, the Cambridge Historical Society, the Cambridge Historical Commission, and Phyllis Bretholtz.