Banner reading "175 Anniversary 1848 - 2023 FUUSN" where the letters of FUUSN are made of photos of many people.

We are celebrating our 175th Anniversary! Join us.

Our Rich and Storied History

The First Unitarian Universalist Society in Newton was founded in 1848 by a small group of Unitarians who had begun meeting in 1844.

In 1860, the first church building, a simple gray clapboard structure, was erected on the site of what is now the West Newton Cinema. Additions to the building were made in 1868 and again in 1879.

In the early 1900’s, the congregation chose to build a new building, which is still in use today, at the corner of Highland and Washington Streets.  Dedicated in 1906, it is thought that the choice of style – English Perpendicular Gothic – was influenced by the tastes of the minister,  Reverend Mr. Julian Clifford Jaynes. The architects of the new church were Messrs. Cram, Goodhue, and Ferguson.  The church and parish house were originally grouped about an open court.

In 1954, the society dedicated a new building addition occupying the space that had one been the center courtyard.  The addition incorporated the Cora E. Richards chapel, church school classrooms, and a new parish kitchen.

FUUSN is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (the UUA), established in 1961 by the uniting of two similar North American faith traditions: The American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America.

From the beginning, members of this society have worked in and beyond the Newton community, reflecting a socially  conscious and vigorously progressive religion.  Early members included transcendentalist reformers such as Caroline Healey Dall, and progressive educators such as Nathaniel T. Allen, Levi Warren, and Horace Mann.  

In the 19th century the site served as the campus for two important educational institutions: Horace Mann’s Normal School, the first state-supported training for teachers in the U.S.; and the Allen School, which served a racially integrated and coeducational student body.

Each year, new members are added to the church family, and the religious education of our children continues – all dedicated to the principles of a free and liberal religion.

The Preservation Committee at FUUSN collects, preserves, and shares information and materials related to the individual and institutional history of the FUUSN. Please contact Gayle Smalley for further information.

Newton Universalist History

A presentation by Jacki Rohan in February 2017 reviews the history of Universalism in the Newton area.

Our Activist History

This presentation by Bob Ellertsen explores the complex and fascinating activist roots of the First Unitarian Universalist Society in Newton, including founding member Horace Mann, Julia Ward Howe, and many, many others. Also describes some of the history behind our unique stained glass windows. You may view the presentation on YouTube.