† 170 Commercial Street

 
Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church (1910)

There are few vigorously original works of architecture in town, so it seems especially grievous that one of the few such structures — the strikingly handsome Shingle-style second Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church — should have been torn down in the late 1940s to allow construction of a banal brick bank box.

After its previous church burned down, Centenary rebuilt in 1909 and 1910, Nancy Paine Smith said, during “the lean years, when fishing was dead and when young men were leaving town for Boston and the West … Many friends of Centenary, together with the presiding elder and the bishop felt that to rebuild was folly. However, there was the land, the insurance, and the parsonage.” The heroes of the rebuilding, Smith says, were Phoebe E. Freeman and Lizzie Foster. The church closed in the early 1940s, after the departure of its last regular pastor. The property was acquired in 1948 by the First National Bank. Next year, the bank offered the church building for sale as “containing a large amount of excellent lumber.”

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