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History on Display

A longstanding connection is celebrated

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A celebration was held to commemorate the long history between Bridgewater State and the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Bridgewater.

The event also marked a new collaborative effort: The staff of the Maxwell Library’s Archives & Special Collections has been working with the church, which is located next to the Art Building on School Street, for the past several months to transfer the church’s entire archive to BSU.

The event marked an unveiling of the collection as part of the church’s 300th anniversary celebration.

The connection between school and church dates to the mid-19th century, shortly after what was known then as the Bridgewater Normal School, was established. The first principal of the school, Nicholas Tillinghast, was a member and deacon of the church. This led to the Bridgewater Alumni Association, which was formed in 1842, holding its annual meeting at the church, a practice that held for the rest of the century.

Under the auspices of Albert G. Boyden, who assumed the principalship of Bridgewater in 1860, the normal school acquired land owned by the church to build a gymnasium, which is now the Art Building.

The connection lives on into recent years: former Bridgewater presidents Dana Mohler-Faria and Adrian Tinsley have spoken at the church. President Frederick W. Clark Jr. attended the recent event, which took place on the third floor of the library, and was also sponsored by the Old Bridgewater Historical Society. A key focus of the gathering were the many display cases filled with material from the church’s recently donated collection, as well as related material from the Old Bridgewater Historical Society — including the original 1649 town deed signed by Myles Standish and Massasoit. 

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