The histories of the town of Ludlow and that of the First Church in Ludlow are inseparable. The history of the First Church in Ludlow begins with the charter of the town of Ludlow, and the approval of Ludlow as a town was dependent upon the formation of First Church.
The area which now comprises Ludlow and its surrounding communities was originally explored by the British beginning in around 1729 for the purpose of fur trading. However, by the mid-sixteenth century, most of the people along the Chicopee and Connecticut Rivers had become farmers and artisans looking to form their own towns. Centered at Wallamanumps Falls on the Chicopee River, the settlement of Ludlow, petitioned the Crown and gained a charter on February 28, 1774. Because, one of the demands made of any new town in Massachusetts colony was to have a town assembly as soon as possible, all of the men of Ludlow gathered on March 29th at the home of one Abner Hitchcock. There were two other meetings, and the results were assignments for two committees: (1) find a minister, and (2) determine the dead center of the district so the Meeting House could be built on it. Delayed by the Revolutionary War, the first Meeting House was not built until 1783. The Town of Ludlow continued to use the Meeting House as a Town Hall and Place of Worship until 1833 when new laws separating Church and State put pressure upon the Church fathers to build a “proper church”. In 1841, a church was erected in the same spot on which today’s church stands. At that time, the Meeting House was turned one quarter of the way around and moved to its present location. It housed the Ludlow Town Office until 1893.
The new church building was dedicated on January 20, 1841, and completed in April of that year. That church stood until the early hours of Saturday, January 15, 1859, when disaster struck in the form of a fire. Amazingly, a new church was in place and dedicated by December of that same year. This beautiful building stood for 121 years. On July 14, 1980, fire once again struck First Church. Due to the determination of many church members, many items were salvaged from the church, but the structure itself was lost. The dedication and perseverance of this congregation is reflected in the fact that the very Sunday after the church was destroyed, morning services were held in the Meeting House.
The main building in which we now worship was dedicated in 1982. The parlor, office, library, minister’s office, deacons’ kitchen, and classrooms below are all part of an addition completed in 1996.
This congregation is the oldest in the Town of Ludlow. It still contains descendants of those who helped form that first petition sent to Boston. Its history is an integral part of Ludlow’s history. And it continues to be so.
Although the Meeting House is now owned by the Town of Ludlow, Lynch Meadow beside it is still owned by the Church. The Historical Association, often in partnership with the Church Historical Committee, have used the Meeting House, the Church building, the Meadow, and the Triangle as places for historical reenactments and displays of local memorabilia.