ST. PAUL'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
61 Wood St.
Hopkinton, MA 01748
508-435-4536

St. Paul's History

Excerpted from "A Brief History of Hopkinton", by Mrs. Frances A. Safford, 1915.

St. Paul's Episcopal church was established in 1745, by Rev. Roger Price, Rector of King's Chapel, Boston. He built a small edifice and endowed it with a glebe of 180 acres, situated on Cordaville Road, the most extensive gift of its kind to the church in this country.

The land is now of little value, some adjacent land inherited from Rev. Roger Price, has been sold to the State Forestry Department for $5.00 per acre.

This first church of St. Paul's society was blown down in the great gale of 1815.

After officiating here three or four years, Mr. Price returned to England and was succeeded by Rev. John Troutbeck.

Among the twenty members in 1752 appear the names of Sir Harry Frankland (who lived nearby) as a vestryman of St. Paul's and Lady Frankland (Agnes Surriage) who passed seven years in the parish and was constant in her devotion to the church, also Patrick, father of Daniel Shea.

In 1818, Bishop Griswold consecrated a new church, which was used until 1865 when it was burnt to the ground.

These earlier buildings stood near the site of the four room school building, corner of Main and Ash Streets.

Until 1892 there were services at rare intervals at various places, then for about six years in a small hall in Bridges block.

Through the influence and exertions of the Rector, Rev. Waldo Burnett, the present beautiful edifice was erected and dedicated in June, 1898 [ed. note: currently, the Hopkinton Library].

The land for this church, also for the building site for the public library was a gift from Mrs. Sarah E. Whitin, a granddaughter of Col. Joseph Valentine.

Saint Paul's Episcopal Church

( A brief history --- 1735 - 2010)

At this time of its 275th anniversary, we are especially aware that Saint Paul's present vitality and future vision are grounded firmly in the deep roots of its past.

As far back as 1735 the original congregation came together to worship God in the parish's first meeting house. In that year there was no United States nation, nor Commonwealth of Massachusetts, nor Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts. However, there were several families in the area longing to unite into a community of Episcopal worship. A new township had just been incorporated in "the wilderness" about 25 miles from the Boston coastline. It was named "Hopkinstown", and its center was located at the top of the hill alongside the Indian trail known as the Bay Path. It was the location selected by Reverend Roger Price, the leading official of the Church of England in colonial New England, to build of his own money an Anglican Church as a haven from the Puritan oppression of Episcopalians in this wilderness area. He sited the church near the common ground of this developing town, just east of where the Valentine Tombs now stand (or on the right about 1/4 mile down the Boston Marathon route). From the beginning nearly thirty families worshiped there --- refugees from Boston, Englishmen, Scotch Irish, dissenters, farmers, tradesmen, servants, Negro slaves, native Indians, men, women, children, rich, poor, and people of varying educational and cultural backgrounds. Reverend Price shared his time between Hopkinton and King's Chapel in Boston, serving both communities as Rector, while still functioning as Commissary of New England. Through the leadership of Reverend Price our church had been born. It was among the first ten parishes in New England.

In 1748 Roger Price ended his duties in Boston as Commissary and Rector of King's Chapel, and settled in Hopkinton as the parish's full-time Rector. In 1753, after more than two decades of serving Episcopalians in America, Reverend Price and his family returned to his native England. Reverend John Troutbeck replaced him as Rector of the Church in Hopkinton, and resided in the Price Manor (on the southwest corner of Main Street and Hayden Rowe Street) until 1769 when he was assigned as Chaplain aboard an English ship. The church had grown steadily throughout the colonial period. Then, stirrings of revolution against England arose to threaten the very existence of the Church of England in America. All Anglican priests in America had been ordained in England, and at ordination had taken a solemn oath of loyalty to the British King. American patriots, aware of the Anglican priestly requirement to support the King, questioned whether Episcopalian Priests would join the fight for independence, and drove all priests out of the colonies at threat of death. By 1770, our local parish and nearly all other Episcopalian churches found themselves without clerical leadership. The members themselves were also eyed with suspicion as to where their loyalties might lie. In fact, as in all segments of the society, some were loyalists, some were patriots. Nonetheless, hostility against the Episcopalian churches rose --- most church property was seized by local Puritan governments. Our church building had to be abandoned, and meetings held in private homes under the leadership of the wardens and vestry. In essence, the Episcopal Church was disestablished during the years of revolution.

The end of the Revolution brought new freedom of religion. Government control of churches was diminished. This gave new opportunity for Episcopal worship. But, the Hopkinton church building had deteriorated to the degree that it was not suitable for worship, and only a remnant of the congregation remained active. In 1784 the few struggling congregations in Massachusetts, among them the parish in Hopkinton, joined together to form the Diocese of Massachusetts. Also in 1784, adhering to its principle of Apostolic Succession, the Episcopalians in the United States obtained ordination of an American Bishop by Scottish Bishops, thereby allowing the ordination of American priests. In the same year the national Protestant Episcopal Church of America was founded, fortifying the basis for resurgence of the denomination. The Church in Hopkinton, now officially known as "Saint Paul's Protestant Episcopal Church In America", forged ahead in spurts towards the time when it could build a new worship center. Reverend Price's son and daughter returned to America in 1788, reclaimed property that had been taken by governments of Boston and Hopkinton, and resided at the Price Manor in Hopkinton. They were important in the restoration of the local Episcopal Church.

In 1815 the great September gale blew down the original Church that Reverend Price built in 1735. Sad as this was, it sparked the desire of the Episcopalians to built its replacement. Reverend Price's daughter, Elizabeth, provided land and materials, and Samuel Valentine erected the new church in 1818. It faced the common at the intersection of Ash and Main Streets, just up the hill from the original location. The parish then called its first American Rector --- Reverend Montague. Limited by high turnover of priests, the church struggled but progressed over the following half century, with worship styles varying with the "low" or "high" inclinations of whatever priest was in charge.

In 1865, the 1818 Church burned down. After a long struggle for survival, in 1898 a third edifice was finally erected on Main Street next to the Price Manor. The congregation worshiped in that church for nearly seventy years. Then, in 1967, the population expansion in the Hopkinton area promised to exceed the capability of the existing building, causing the congregation to build a larger facility. The new (fourth) church was located at 61 Wood Street, somewhat more than a mile west of the previous church along the historic Bay Path (now Route 135). In addition to meeting the needs of todays congregation the new facility provides space for Grace United Methodist Church, a preschool, various civic meetings, and as a dispersal point for outreach activities.

Over the years Saint Paul's has maintained strong ecumenical ties with other denominations, and has "yoked" itself in partnerships with other Episcopal parishes including Boston, Natick, Westborough, Milford, and Southborough. Rectors have been shared, and programs and activities joined. Currently at this time of its 275th Anniversary Saint Paul's is progressively yoked in a collaborative with Christ Church of Medway. Both parishes share the dynamic leadership of the rectorship of the Reverend Michael Billingsley.

Frank Chase
Saint Paul's Episcopal Church
Hopkinton, MA
Jan 2010