History of Second Parish
For over 275 years, Second Parish in Hingham has been responding to the religious needs of its members and friends. It was founded in 1746 as one of the churches of the “Standing Order” of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. These meetinghouses were built and maintained, and the salaries of the ministers were paid, by taxes levied upon the citizens.
In 1727, the inhabitants of Glad Tidings Plain — due to their distance from First Parish (Old Ship) and poor weather conditions — began to agitate for religious services in South Hingham during the winter. They were undaunted as each of their proposals was refused. By 1738, they requested to be set off into their own parish and precinct, which caused much controversy, as downtown residents who owned farmland in South Hingham would be taxed to support two churches.
In spite of great opposition from downtown residents, the people of South Hingham decided to build their own meetinghouse. Theophilus Cushing gave the land and Solomon Loring and others gave the building materials. The frame was raised June 22, 1742. Now the inhabitants had a meetinghouse, but no preacher and no public money to pay one. They continued to petition the Great and General Court in 1744, 1745, and finally on March 21, 1746, the parish was established and Rev. Daniel Shute was called as minister.
Original 1742 Meetinghouse
In 1956, a neighboring barn was purchased and moved to the back of the church. Much work was needed to convert the barn into a parish hall. In 1959 the hall was dedicated and named Cushing Hall. Cushing Hall now houses religious education classes, and church and community meetings. In the early 1990s, the present Wissinger organ, the first brand new instrument in the history of the church, was installed. The Wissinger organ has 17 stops, 21 ranks and more than 1140 pipes.
In 2017, with the assistance of the Community Preservation Fund, a new entrance was added on the south side of the church, allowing accessible entry to both the sanctuary and Cushing Hall.
The parish in South Hingham would be known as Third Parish since the Cohasset church, then part of Hingham, was Second Parish. In 1770, Cohasset was incorporated as a separate town and Hingham’s Third Parish became Second Parish.
The Second Parish Meetinghouse is a treasured legacy from our spiritual forebears. The meetinghouse was, at first, a simple rectangular structure with an entrance on the south side. The pulpit was on the north side. There were galleries on the west, south and east sides with stairways at the southeast and southwest corners. Square box pews owned by the parishioners were on the first floor.
In 1792, a bell tower was added at the east end. In 1829, the pulpit was transferred to the west end, and the box pews were replaced with bench pews decorated with “graining.” The galleries were reoriented, and the entrance was moved to the Main Street side. The present pulpit was installed in 1969, and the sconces and chandelier were given in the early 1970s.